Imagine you’re in this situation: you have to stay an hour late at work to get an important project done, and when you get home your partner has (very considerately) made dinner for the family. You eat a quick meal with your partner and kids, keeping your phone next to you in case you get an email from work, help with the clean-up, help put the kids to bed, and then fall into bed yourself. During all this evening rushing, you never had a chance to spend any quality time with your partner.
If this type of scenario sounds familiar, you and your partner may need to establish some time boundaries. This means that, while your routine may vary from day-to-day, you have certain set periods of time for certain parts of your life. For example, maybe 9 to 6 is your work time, but when you get home it becomes Family Time, meaning you put your phone away and spend an hour or two of guilt-free time with your family, not thinking about work.
If you have kids, you may want to set a strict bed time so that you and your partner can have your own meaningful time together after the kids go to sleep and before both of you go to bed. If you or your partner has a hobby or side business, perhaps you can work out an arrangement to work on that project in the morning before the rest of the house is awake. And don’t forget to schedule a Date Time—and stick to it—at least a couple times a month.
How to Start Setting Boundaries
These time boundaries are going to be most effective if you talk to your partner about what you’d both like to spend more time on, what you’d like to cut back on, and what sometimes frustrates you about the other person’s use of their time. Then, write down your boundary goals together. These might include things like making your bedroom an electronics-free zone after 9 pm, going to bed together at the same time every night, or getting a sitter and going on a date once a week.
If you’ve done Imago Therapy before, have a very dialogic conversation about your separate ideas (it may help to have a copy of “Our Relationship (Marriage) Vision” out on the table). Then decide how you can compromise and carry out y0ur goals with intentionality and in the service of your shared vision.
You don’t have to start trying to meet all your goals at once, but you should focus on meeting at least one goal a week. You and your partner can help hold each other accountable for sticking to those goals. Once you’ve gotten used to these time boundaries, you should feel less stressed and more satisfied about your time management.
Remember, if you want even more advice about how to get more out of your relationship, you and your partner should schedule an appointment with the Houston relationship therapist.