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Health Information No Time for Couple Time?

Your boss keeps tabs on your progress on work projects. Your children cry when they are hungry or tired. Since your partner isn't sending you a meeting request or pulling on your shirt with a tear-stained face, you might not be giving your relationship as much attention as you're giving other aspects of your life.

Though it may be difficult to balance all the demands on your time, your relationship with your partner can't wait until you retire or the kids go off to college. Here are some tips from Ann Hartlage, PhD, a clinical psychologist and director of the Marital and Sex Therapy Program at Rush University Medical Center, that might help you fit intimacy into your busy life.

  • Schedule some time. Just as you put your work meetings and the kids' lessons on the calendar, schedule some personal time for you and your partner.
  • Escape the norm. It's good to get out of your normal surroundings, even if it's only for a walk in the park with your partner or a trip to the museum. This way, you are exposed to new stimuli and separated from all the projects around the house that seem to call to you whenever you have a moment free.
  • Manage your stress. If you are under stress, it can put a strain on your relationship with your partner. You cannot eliminate stress, but you can manage how you respond to it. Find an outlet that helps relieve your stress, such as exercise or recreational activities.
  • Share your thoughts. You may find that conversations with your partner tend to focus on practical aspects of your life, such as what to have for dinner or the family budget. If that's the case, try to spend some time talking to each other about your deeper thoughts, goals, hopes and other feelings.
  • Figure out sustainable child care alternatives. Babysitting can get expensive. Explore cheaper methods to free up your time such as trading off child care responsibilities with another couple or setting up a regular visit for the children to spend time with a family member.
  • Turn off the technology. Often your cell phone or Blackberry can interrupt conversations and divert your attention from your partner. Instead of always being on alert, try turning off these distracting devices and giving your partner your full attention.
  • Let the kids in on your relationship. It's healthy for children to see physical displays of affection between their parents. You should also feel comfortable telling your children when you and your partner need some time to yourselves.

Using these tips, you and your partner can figure out together how best to make room for intimacy in your busy lives. You, your partner, as well as your children, will benefit as a result.

More Information at Your Fingertips:

  • The Marital and Sex Therapy Program at Rush University Medical Center offers marriage counseling, couple therapy and premarital counseling to improve communication, resolve conflicts and increase intimacy. Visit the Marital and Sex Therapy Program home page for more information.
  • Looking for other ways to lower stress in your life? Read "Ideas for Relieving Stress."
  • Looking for a doctor? Call toll free: 888 352-RUSH (888 352-7874).

Please note: All physicians featured in Discover Rush Online are on the medical faculty of Rush University Medical Center. Some of the physicians featured are in private practice and, as independent practitioners, are not agents or employees of Rush University Medical Center.

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