Q: I work 60 hours a week and have three active kids. My wife and I go from 6 AM until nearly midnight 7 days a week. What can I do to maintain a romantic relationship with my wife and passion in our relationship?
A: Good question and the answer is simple. Yet simple is not to be confused with easy. First I think we need to arrive at an understanding of what constitutes romance and passion in a relationship. To be sure, men and women will likely have anywhere from somewhat to drastically different views about what speaks of romance and passion to them, but the bottom line is, both matter and need to be tended to. And the bottom line is that you need to prioritize. You need to believe and make sure that your wife knows she, and your shared relationship is the number one priority in your life. Not work, not golf and not your fraternity buddies. She gets the number one spot at all times. I think people often fall into the trap of feeling as though that which they most value must therefore be the recipient of the majority of their time and attention. Not so. Letting someone know they are at the center of your life and joy does not take candlelight, bubble bath and rose petals. In fact, the thought of something this cliché makes my skin crawl. I have always told Greg that I would rather have him bring me flowers on a random Wednesday in May than on Valentine’s Day along with every other soul out there who succumbs to this annual obligation. It really is the little things. A tender touch, a text that just says, “I love you,” offering to pick up dinner on the way home, or actually mailing her a card that thanks her for being such a great mom and telling her how much you appreciate her irreplaceable role in your life and family. These small things are the lifeblood that continues to feed and nourish a relationship. Also for most women, nothing is more alluring to them than seeing their husband be a great dad. For men, I think at a very basic level, all men desire Appreciation, Respect and Sex. Notice I didn’t say that’s all they need, but I did say that all men need it. A tricky but true difference. Greg deserves to know how deeply I appreciate how hard he works and how seriously he takes providing for his family. Nobody wants to believe they burned up 60 hours for nothing of consequence or value. He deserves to know that I respect his incredible abilities, talents and work ethic. And when we go out on Friday night, even if what sounds most appealing to me is sweats and take-out after a long week, I’m going to get dressed up and go out to dinner and enjoy my husband. No matter how busy things get you MUST set aside time for the two of you to be together not as business partners or parents, but as a couple. Set it aside every week and DON’T TOUCH IT! Make this commitment to each other utterly sacred.
At the end of the day, at the end of it all, our relationships are all we have. They are not just something that matters, they are everything that matters. So neglecting this garden along the way will leave you with a hunger for love and connection that cannot be fed. We all fall short but therein lies the beauty of a committed relationship. It is willing wait for you to water it, but it is never to be taken for granted. We are each and every one of us only as good as what we give, so make a list of small things that you can do for one another and make a habit of prioritizing those small acts of kindness. I can promise there is nothing in your sixty hours during the week that is more rewarding than the 60 seconds it takes to say, “I love you.”