As I was lying on the couch with Matt earlier, watching our 3rd episode of Killing Eve, I reflected on how nice it was to waste time with him. The reality is that both of us, me in particular, live very busy lives and we don’t often get to just do nothing together. Typically our time together is spent having a bite to eat and then going to bed. Neither of us watch a lot of TV and by the end of the day, once the responsibilities of life are done, we just crash.
With it being the long weekend, it would be easy to fill it with a lot of running around, socializing, managing our to-do lists, but instead we decided to not really make any plans and just let the days unfold. It was nice to not be on a schedule and to feel the luxury of spending time together that wasn’t about tackling our responsibilities. All of this got me thinking of how rarely, in a lot of ways, we actually do this in our relationship.
It is funny how the thing we typically did the most at the beginning of our relationship, is the thing we do the least of as we are together longer. Sitting down and enjoying a glass of wine together, chatting while cuddling in bed, relaxing and just connecting without any other purpose besides just spending time with each other; these are all things we loved to do when we first got to know each other. Practicing slow down and just hanging out, something most of us did at the beginning of our relationship, is a skillset. In today’s busy world, it is something we can so easily forget to prioritize.
Our world, especially in urban centres, prioritizes being busy. If you are busy it means you are successful. If you are burnt out it, means you’ve worked hard. These types of messages are toxic to our mental health. We too often forget about our needs as a person, yet alone as a couple, and prioritize the things that we have been told or made to believe make us important. This isn’t to say that those things don’t or shouldn’t matter, rather that we need to learn to make the other parts of ourselves take up space as well. When you ask people who have gone through tough times in their relationship, or even been divorced, they often reflect back and say they wish they spent more time connecting in the ways that made them feel closer to their partner, more intimate and connected. They wished they invested and made an effort to connect when there was still a chance to make the relationship work out, instead of allowing life and bad habits to create a chasm so big it was impossible to recover from. I am not here to say what those moments are or what they need or should be, rather I am just trying to provide the reminder that sometimes what we really need isn’t another fancy dinner out, big night on the town, or social event, but rather a night in with no plans besides just intentionally spending time together.
As a relationship therapist, I could write a list of 100 things you could do to make your relationship better, but instead of the focus being on adding in another tool, why not simplify and go back to the tools you know worked for you at the beginning. Spend an evening talking, cuddling, enjoying each others company. I want to stress that these moments are what we make them and more often than not we assume that being in one another’s presence is enough. It isn’t. Instead, you want to spend that time genuinely being present with each other in whatever way resonates with you. So with the rush of summer about to begin, and life already often being too full, try to take a moment to slow down. Ask yourself what that genuine connection would really look like for you, and make sure to prioritize that in these coming months, and all the years that follow.
Happy Canada Day!