SGR 014 | How to Make Time for Each Other (When There is No Time)
The kids are back in school and work is getting crazy.
You can’t even think about next week, let alone the holidays coming up.
There seems to always be too much to do and not enough time to do it.
You and your partner are running around, trying to get through each day, and doing your best to juggle all the responsibilities.
Unfortunately, when things get this hectic, two things tend to get pushed to the back-burner:
Self care and partner care.
Without these, we start to feel like the things that should be bringing us joy aren’t. Feelings of disconnect and frustration can make the overwhelm of our busy lives even more impactful.
Luckily, carving out even small chunks of time and preserving rituals of connection can help buffer against stress.
This week we are talking all about the impact our hectic schedules can have on couples and how we can connect in meaningful, yet quick, realistic, and efficient ways. We are covering:
- How we feel and what we need when things get hectic
- How your relationship suffers when things get too busy
- How your relationship can serve as a cushion for external stress
- Quick ways to stay connected
We’ve got a super handy bonus for you - The Lightning Fast Connection Activities List. It’s our go-to resource for quick ways to deeply connect when things get so busy it feels like there is no time to nurture your relationship.
Short on time? Here’s a list of today’s topics and when to listen:
How we feel and what we need when things get hectic - 2:59
How our relationship suffers when things get too busy - 6:41
Rituals of connection - 7:27
Turning towards each other - 8:20
How our relationship could serve as a cushion for the external stressors - 11:11
Quick and easy ways to stay connected - 14:42
Five mindful minutes - 16:01
Six-second kiss - 19:20
Bedtime routines - 24:17
Coupling a reward with work - 25:10
Meredith + Marina’s takeaways - 28:11
Marina: Hey there and welcome to episode fourteen of the Simply Great Relationships podcast. We’re so glad that you could join us today. Today, we have a really good episode that I think a lot of people will be able to relate to. I’m Marina Voron, this is Meredith Silversmith. And today, we’re gonna be talking about how to stay connected when life gets super hectic and you have no time. We’ll be covering how we feel and what we need when things get hectic, how your relationship suffers when things get too busy, how your relationship could serve as a cushion for the external stressors that kinda hi-jack our time, and quick and easy ways to stay connected even when things are super hectic.
Meredith: Love that.
Marina: So, make sure that you stay until the very end because we’ve got a really, really great bonus for you today and we’ll tell you how to get it at the end.
Meredith: I really like this episode as someone with a very hectic life and crazy schedule. I know you are as well. So I like this. I think that this is gonna be really beneficial. And I think a lot of what we’re sharing today are like life hacks that we use ourselves.
Meredith: So it’s definitely coming from a tried and true recommendation.
Meredith: So how we feel when things get really hectic and what we need. It’s individuals because to start off, we are one person even though we’re part of a relationship. How do we feel when things are totally crazy? I feel overwhelmed and stressed, ran down, tired, I definitely get irritable when there’s too much going on, impatient. It’s like everything feels like a problem. Everything feels like it’s challenging and I’m like tapped out.
Marina: Yeah. Short, snappy, dismissive. That would be me. When I get overwhelmed, I just know like I’m running on empty. My tolerance for anything becomes so low and it sucks. I don’t like being that person.
Meredith: I don’t either and I’m laughing because I’m just thinking of an experience that we share quite often. When Marina and I work a lot, and we work a lot collaboratively, luckily and happily, but we work from home often so we do a lot of facetiming, a lot of Skype meetings, we do a tremendous amount and our husbands work from home often also so Marina and I would be mid-meeting and maybe a bit stressed and overwhelmed like on our three and I could only imagine if there was a fly on the wall because all you hear is “George!, “Tom!”, “George!”, “Tom!” and we’re just like snapping like that like “Stop! Stop! Why are you doing that?” because we’re overwhelmed and we’re stressed and our resources are being taxed.
Meredith: It happens the best to us.
Marina: Yeah and we maybe aren’t using our nicest indoor voices and best ways to express our needs but again, we’re human and that’s what happens when you’re just really tired, overwhelmed when things are hectic. What about needs? What do you need when you feel really, when things are chaotic?
Meredith: I need to feel like I have help. Like I have someone on my side that I’m not alone with it, that I have someone, at the very least, listen to me, let me vent and let me just get it all out what’s going on for me and to feel like that person cares.
Meredith: That’s really what I need. What about for you?
Marina: I feel like I definitely need that. I need to know that I have someone on my time like it’s almost, I think about it, I feel so deflated and depleted. Having George there is really having a backbone, having that strength but I also need calm and I need an opportunity to decompress and that doesn’t need a spa day. I just need that opportunity to tap out and shut down and recharge my battery.
Meredith: Yeah. That’s true. I think what’s beneficial is the needs that we’re talking about what can be met jointly.
Meredith: There’s something that you can do as a “We”, not just as an “I” and that’s a bit of what we’re gonna be talking about today. The reality is that your relationship suffers when things get too busy. And where that line is different for everyone and different for every couple but just as you as an individual suffer when things are too busy so does your relationship. One of the first things that happens, and this is actually a marker that I use with my couples to tell when things are getting a bit off track, is their rituals of connection break down. The habits that they had get pushed out by other things and other things start to take precedence and priority and that morning walk or the evening conversation or the once a week television show, they start to fall off because of other things.
Marina: Yeah. I think that really, rituals of connection, if they keep us in positive sentiment override when they break down, it’s really easy to slide into that negative sentiment override and all of a sudden, it feels like “Things are hectic and there’s a rain cloud over my relationship”. Also, when you a have less energy and less patience, you have less energy and less patience towards each other.
Marina: And you communicate and create an environment that’s not really what you wanna feel like in your relationship. And that’s a really bad feeling to feel like you’re stuck in a pattern when you know that’s not the way you want to feel.
Meredith: Yeah. We talked a lot about turning towards each other. Gosh, I think it was eleven or twelve. We’ll put it in the show notes. Episode eleven or twelve, we talked a lot about why that’s so important and the benefits so you could definitely go back and take a listen there if you feel like this is something that’s happening for you because not having the energy and patience to do that is detrimental. Another reality is just having less time together. If you’re super busy, you have less time together which means you have smaller windows to create positive moments. This is something I’ve started talking about more and more with couples especially, I feel like the couples we see, at least for me, the vast majority have incredibly busy schedules. So that is a piece of things. I kind of explain it like this. If you spend five hours together every week and one of those hours goes poorly, it’s conflictual, it’s stressed, it’s tensed, there’s an argument, one out of five hours is negative. That’s 20% of time together. It’s a big chunk. That’s a really big number whereas if you have 20 hours a week that you spent together and one hour went badly, that’s only 5%. So the impact it has on your relationship and how you feel is gonna be lower than if you have less time together. I think that’s really significant. It’s almost like, basically, what we’re saying is if you have less time together, that makes that time all the more important to create positive moments and for things to go well.
Marina: Yeah and also, if you only have so much time together and you have kids and you have this and you have that and you have commitments, it’s also less time and probably have less energy to communicate in a healthy and effective way. Like we talked about in episode one, just because there is less time and more frustration and when you shift away from communicating in a healthy way, again, that creates a certain negative feeling and certain detriment in your relationship.
Meredith: Mhmm. And I think one of the biggest things that I see is the more likely you get flooded sooner. So if you’re stressed and your patience is being pulled by work and pulled by lack of sleep and pulled by all of these different things, that’s gonna set you up to get flooded during an argument way sooner than you would have otherwise which is challenging. It’s sort of like everything gets harder when your schedule gets super hectic.
Marina: Yeah and that sucks but also, that’s the reality but guess what, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Your relationship can serve as a cushion to these stressors. So let’s talk a little bit about how your relationship can serve as a cushion to these external stressors and maybe even internal stressors.
Meredith: Yeah. I think the main message is to look at your relationship as like a safe haven from the outside world. You know, that mentality that “It’s you and me against the world”, “It’s us and them”. That creates a supportive environment, a resilient environment and really turning towards your relationship and your partner at times of stress for positive things rather than bringing the stress from the outside world into your relationship.
Marina: Mhmm, for sure! Also, being able to vent to each other and to take your partner’s side, it fosters a connection. It’s like letting your partner into your world. It’s being lovingly curious. It’s all those good things and saying “You know what, I got you. I’m your support person”. It’s very powerful.
Meredith: Yeah. And when you’re both going through this, when you both have super hectic and busy schedule, that can be hard to do and it’s even more important that you both get on board. So when you’re in the same boat and nobody’s got an absence of stress, you sort of have to both take that step and give your effort. Destress and decompress together. It doesn’t have to be a one man show. You can go take a walk around the block together, you could listen to music together, you can do a mindfulness meditation together, you can use that as a new ritual, as a new time or way to connect.
Marina: Yeah and I think having your relationship during a really hectic time is a really good “well at least”. And I generally hate “well at leasts” but I think in this context, it’s fair game because it allows you to have a positive focus. It’s like “I have all this stuff going on but at least even with that going on, maybe I still have my relationship. And my relationship is still a really positive place where I have a supportive partner that helps lift me up, that helps be there for me that we decompress together, we destress together and with all this stress, at least I know that is something I have to look forward to”.
Meredith: Yeah. Definitely. And having that is safe guard. Having that and knowing that that’s there is a way to protect yourself from of these stresses. So it’s a good thing guys. I love these. So quick ways to stay connected. This is one of my favorites because you know what, we did, gosh, it was probably a couple of months ago now, I think it was in the winter. Marina and I did a talk for couples who are parents of twins.
Meredith: And that was such a funny experience because, you know, a couple as a couple as a couple but when you have two babies, that’s a lot more.
Meredith: So, we had to really sit down and think, “Okay, what can we recommend to them? What quick tips can we give them” because they only have thirty seconds of uninterrupted time or ten minutes once a day.
Marina: There was no date night out of the city.
Meredith: Yeah, no. It was interesting to hear from them about their reality and to have to work within that context and we feel like the reality is everyone’s busy in a different way so being the parent of twin infants may not be all that different from what you’re going through and what stressors you have and working 7 days/wk or working 18 hrs/day and everyone’s got their stuff so we’re gonna share with you some of the tips we shared with them.
Marina: Yeah. The first one that we talked about, and this is what I’ve talked about with lots of couples but right away, when we started strategizing about that, I’m like “We have to teach them about the five mindful minutes”. Self-care has to come first. Self-care is partner care. There’s like a million cheesy instagram posts and sayings signifying that “You can’t drink from an empty cup of water from an empty pail”.
Marina & Meredith: “You have to put your mask on before you…” whatever.
Marina: Whatever cliche works for you. It’s true though. You can’t be present in your relationship if you’re not present. So you have to prioritize self-care. And again, self-care doesn’t have to be a spa day. There are very small, very real ways to take care of yourself and like the five mindful minutes, that’s what I really love. So five mindful minutes is taking literally a timer. Five minutes to take a time out. And even if you have multiples, you can ask for five minutes from your partner and I doubt they’ll refuse you if you ask really nicely but it’s about spending that time with yourself, not like when we talked about micro-rejection like on your phone, scanning through your Facebook feeds, creeping on what people you haven’t talked to since high school are doing. That’s not mindful time. Then remember, you only have five minutes so you really wanna make it worth it. So five mindful minutes, there are five mindful minute guided meditations. There are five minute guided breathings. There are five minute progressive muscle relaxations. There are five minute self massages and different pressure point stimulations. Five minutes to really to now disconnect and be with yourself and make the goal rejuvenation.
Meredith: Yeah. Five minutes. Literally five minutes. You can find five minutes to do it before you get out of bed in the morning. You could do it when you’re in the bathroom accomplishing other things, you can ask your partner for five minutes to watch the kids so it is doable. Another way, we always talk about rituals of connection. If you don’t know what they are, go back to episode two and listen. It’s really, really important and foundational but choose rituals that can be done quickly so in under five minutes or pair them with something you’re already doing. I love this recommendation because there’s no excuses. You’re already doing it. So go in episode two, download the rituals of connection master list. That’s the bonus for that episode and you can literally go through it and circle the things that take less than five minutes or you already do and integrate it with your partner. So things you’re already doing, greetings, how you greet each other, six seconds.
Marina: Six second kiss!
Meredith: Six second kiss. It is what it sounds like. Kiss for six seconds.
Marina: Why six seconds?
Meredith: Why six seconds, Marina?
Marina: Because it’s long enough to feel romantic and sexy and not like you’re kissing your grandma.
Meredith: Important. But only six seconds! You can find that. So, greetings, saying goodbye, taking a shower. I know we talked about that a lot in episode one or two.
Meredith: Episode two.
Marina: One of my favorite easy peasiest most effective rituals of connection, and I wanna give this the spotlight it deserves because this is such, such, such a great ritual of connection. You know why? Because we all shower. Hopefully we all shower. We all shower. It doesn’t take much to say “Hey babe, come into the shower with me and we can hang out naked and have a good time together”. It doesn’t mean it has to lead to anything more than taking a shower but at least it’s that time that you’re spending as a couple in a shower together. You’re remembering that you’re a couple and you’re the people that see each other naked and you’re the people that get to have this kind of experience. It’s such a super easy, simply great little life hack.
Meredith: Mhmm! Yeah. So think that way. “What are the things that I already do everyday and how can I invite my partner into them?”.
Meredith: It’s a great tip for saving time.
Marina: I know you guys are really good at having your morning coffee together. You’re gonna have morning coffee anyway.
Meredith: You betcha!
Marina: Have it with your partner!
Meredith: Yeah! I’m trying to think what else we do.
Marina: What? Oh, I’m sorry…
Meredith: No, I was gonna say we definitely in the past couple of months started food shopping together.
Meredith: Not something we always did to doing that together. If I’m running a quick errand or Tom’s running a quick errand, we’ll go together just to take a ride and have the ability to talk to each other or we’ll talk sometimes on the phone when one of us is getting home from work, commuting home from work.
Meredith: What about you guys?
Marina: So George and I have two that we find super effective. One, when I leave in the morning, George will walk Beefy with me to the car.
Meredith: That’s their dog.
Marina: That’s our dog. His name is Beefy. It’s a quick walk but it’s still a little walk that we do together in the morning which is really nice and the other one is, you know, George and I love to have a little FaceTime dinner date.
Meredith: Yeah, I love that.
Marina: Again, we’re both eating dinner and just because we’re not at the same place at the same time, doesn’t mean you can’t still have dinner together so we’ll FaceTime and have our dinner together. Sometimes, my dinner is early like a 15-minute break so we’ll set it up via text and we’ll just make sure to have that and super easy, doesn’t require much effort but still really nice and making us feel connected when things are super hectic.
Meredith: Yeah, definitely! This one I really like. I recommend this to all my busy couples because I just feel like there’s no excuse and it’s so simple. So, those times in the day when you think of your partner, you know, they just pop in your head. Visualize them or you remember something or you think of something or you feel something and you’re like “Oh! That’s nice!”, shoot them a text! 2 second text. “Hey, babe. Just thought about dinner last weekend. That was really fun!”. Poop! Done. Done!
Marina: It can also be an eggplant emoji.
Meredith: It can! It can just be an eggplant emoji, it could be, you know, whatever!
Marina: Whatever it is.
Meredith: Whatever it is for you guys.
Marina: But it’s just about saying “Hey, I’m thinking about you”.
Meredith: Yeah! Exactly! That’s all it is but that’s really powerful! And the marker, instead of having to remember “Oh my gosh, I have to text her/I have to text him. Blah blah blah…”, just make it a rule. If I think of my partner, I will text them and let them know.
Meredith: Very simple.
Marina: And again, you’re not writing a novella.
Meredith: No. No!
Marina: Just a little “Hey, thinking about you”.
Marina: Really, really nice. Really super quick way to stay connected.
Meredith: Yup! And I think the final thing that I typically recommend, I always ask about bedtime routines. What are your routines when you’re going to bed and often, especially for busy couples, it’s like one person like to decompress on the couch watching T.V., one person likes to decompress in bed. Everyone’s got their own way and it’s like “Okay, how can we compromise and bring these together into one ritual?” because you’re gonna go to bed. You’re gonna get in bed at some point. You’re gonna go to sleep so how can you set it up to do together? So I make plans with couples like “Okay, at this time, we’re gonna go upstairs, we’re gonna get in bed, maybe we’ll watch a show, maybe we’ll give each other a massage, maybe we’ll just cuddle but we’ll be together and that’ll be our time.” because you know it’s gonna happen everyday.
Meredith: So I like that one.
Marina: Yeah! That’s a really good one. I have one last one.
Marina: Yeah. This is one that… I know you guys have done this and I know George and I do this but I think it’s really worthwhile mentioning, sometimes, when we have to do work on the weekends or even weekdays when we work from home to couple doing work with a little reward with each other is a huge thing for us. So we’ll go and park at a coffee shop and both have our laptops out, be doing this and then we’ll set a time and then we’ll say “At this time, we can have a glass of wine together and put our laptops away and have half an hour or 45 minutes kind of uninterrupted, not doing work”. So coupling a reward with doing work together and I think there’s something really nice if you have the opportunity to park somewhere at a nice coffee shop or somewhere where you really like to be and do work in the same vicinity.
Meredith: Yeah! Pair it! I know you and I, we had to really adapt because there’s this problem that there’s not enough hours in a day so you have to sometimes pair the fun with the, I like how you said it. Like go somewhere makes you feel good and the work. So totally, we do the same thing. We go to a coffee shop that we really like. We sit outside there. That’s what I really like about that place, we sit outside or lately, I’ve been pushing envelopes a little more and working out of my in-law’s pool. So, thank God for them and their pool and I set up a very interesting contraption on the side of the pool to keep my laptop cool, but hey, it doesn’t get much better than that in terms of work and play being merged.
Marina: Makes me feel a little jealous.
Marina: When I’m sitting in my Brooklyn apartment and Meredith’s like “I’m just at the pool”.
Meredith: You’re welcome to join me.
Marina: Yes, I think that’s what’s gonna need to happen one of these days.
Meredith: So, that’s a really good one! Thanks for sharing that. I like that. So, listen. We don’t want you to just listen to this and not do anything with it. We want you to integrate it into your relationship. So, to make it even easier for you, we’ve created our lightning fast connection activities list. This is a list of rituals of connection that you could do in five minutes or less so you don’t even have to go download the one from episode two because you don’t have any time anyway. So we’ve sorted out the ones that are brief and we’re gonna make it available to you. You can get that on our website at www.simplygreatrelationships.com/014. That’s a good one. Definitely grab it. It’ll take you no time at all. Let’s talk about takeaways.
Marina: What’s your big takeaway?
Meredith: Oh my gosh. I think just a refresher of keeping present in your mind, “How can I invite my partner into stuff I’m already doing? How can I create more moments of connection without having to find necessarily the time for it?”.
Meredith: What about for you?
Marina: For me, what you talked about in terms of “If you have only five hours together and one of those hours is negative, that’s 20% of the time that’s negative”. You can’t buffer against that versus if you have twenty hours together and one hour’s negative, that’s only 5%. You can buffer out 5%, no problem but 20%, that’s already impactful. So it’s extra important to remember that in a hectic time when you’re kind of running on empty, that free time, the little free time you have is such a gift that you need to invest wisely.
Meredith: Yeah, absolutely!
Marina: That you don’t wanna invest it in negativity. You really wanna invest it at really nice rituals of connection, really nice ways to decompress together, really nice ways to reward yourselves to feel connected, to feel intimate, to feel great as a couple.
Meredith: Mhmm! Definitely. So that’s all for today. We hope that you take these tips and start using them right away. Be sure to get the download. We’d love to continue the conversation with you in our Facebook group. You can join us there where we’re gonna be sharing tips, tricks, live streams exclusively for our members. You can get to that at www.facebook.com/groups/simplygreatrelationships or you can go over to our website www.simplygreatrelationships.com and just click the link. So, until next week!
Marina and Meredith: Bye!