Work, kids, chores, and other commitments take up a lot of time and energy, leaving many people too drained by the end of the day to put much work into their relationship. If your partner has been really busy, leaving you feeling ignored, you might be tempted to complain about the problem. The most likely outcome of complaining, however, is that it makes your partner less inclined to spend time with you. It is possible to resolve the issue, though it isn’t always easy. Here are some strategies that can help you and your partner get through this busy time.
Explain your position
Complaining isn’t going to help, but talking calmly with your partner will at least help the two of you come to an understanding. Explain to your partner that you feel like you are low on the priority list and find out what is going on. It may be that your partner just doesn’t realize that you’re feeling so ignored and may be able to reorganize some priorities. On the other hand, there may be a really good reason why your partner is spending so much time at work and being able to see the whole picture may help you be more patient. One other tip that may help is to say “we” need to work on this, or “our” schedules are busy. Using words that are plural can help in that they do not feel as attacked. This lets them know that you are willing to do work also and want to take this from a team approach.
You don’t need your partner’s undivided attention all day long, just enough to help you feel a little higher on the priority list. Talk with your partner about scheduling a time, whether it’s dinner on Saturday evening, or a weekend getaway to reconnect. I have had some clients who work 15 hour days and a simple text from the bathroom will send the message to their partner that they are thinking of them throughout the day (we all have to take bathroom breaks during the day, so taking that extra 30 seconds might really help). Usually an increased effort makes a huge difference.
No matter how stressful life gets, it’s important to laugh together. Having fun together can help you reconnect and handle pressure better. Put on the radio for one song and ask them for a dance. It’s silly but can let them know you care.
How do you respond when your kids start whining and complaining? If you’re like many parents, you probably tune them out or ask them to change their tone. Is it any surprise that your partner doesn’t want to listen to you whine? Changing your tone can go a long way to improving communication and understanding.
Being tired is not an excuse to be grouchy and rude. Be respectful when talking with your partner and insist on the same in return. You can accomplish great things when you work as a team, but that won’t happen if your relationship is a battleground.
This too shall pass
Busyness tends to go in cycles. Whether it’s work, small children, or something else, it will only last a while. Keep this in mind and make the best of situation as it is now. If your “cycle” of not feeling cared about has gone on for months on end, it might be time to seek out a couple’s counselor to figure out how to engage your partner.
Take care of yourself
The reality is you don’t NEED your partner to enjoy life. It’s nice to have them around and they can certainly help with happiness, but there are other things out there that could also make you happy. Keep yourself occupied and don’t dwell on the situation. Try taking up a new hobby or signing up for a class through parks and rec or through the local community college. This does not mean leaving your partner, simply finding other ways to occupy your time while your partner is busy. When your partner has a little breathing room, it’ll give you something to share (you can tell them about what you learned in your new class for example).
It can be really disappointing to keep reaching out to your partner and not feel like you’re getting anywhere. Keep reaching out anyway, or you’ll never get anywhere.
If you’re still feeling neglected, it may be time to get counseling for your relationship and learn how to communicate your needs with your partner and how to take care of yourself. If you would like to find a good counselor in Long Beach, contact me at 562-310-9741. This is an issue that individuals come in for all the time and this is an area of specialty for me as your potential therapist.