Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 20th 2015 Contents B26
body & soul
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Friday, March 20, 2015
True story: Two years ago, Aaron
and Jila (last names omitted to honour
the couple s privacy) overcame the
odds by starting---and maintaining---
a relationship from Salt Lake City to
Fort Lauderdale. Then they both
moved to New York City where, with-
out 2,500 miles separating them,
things were supposed to be easy.
That s when reality settled in for the
24-year-olds: Aaron works 80 hours a
week in investment management. Jila
is a full-time grad student and holds
a retail gig on the side. Their apartments
are a 45-minute train ride apart. They
love each other, but they re swamped.
And stressed. And tired. Really, really
Here s how super-busy couples can
strengthen their sex life and relation-
ship---without drugs or therapy.
Schedule time for each other
Many marriage and family therapists
recommend scheduling one-on-one
intimate times on a regular basis. It
doesn t have to be extravagant, just
different from the routine. Whether
it s weekly or monthly, lasting just an
hour or for an entire evening, the time
should be consistent and uninterrupted,
a designated opportunity to reconnect
and focus on each other.
Go for a stroll in the park. Cook a
meal at home. Have sex. Go for the
trifecta! As long as you re together out
of deliberate choice, not just mere con-
venience of sharing a space. Bonus
points for intimate conversation, phys-
ical touch, and eye contact---with your
partner, not a screen.
Separate hard stuff from the easy
"We have so little free time together
that I think we can get frustrated more
easily when things aren t going well,
because we do want that time to be
perfect," Aaron says. "If we start fighting
quickly, I will lose patience faster than
I might normally because I m commit-
ting my free time to this and I want
it to be perfect."
The solution: compartmentalise. If
you re having a regular date night, just
appreciate the enjoyable company. Set
aside a different time to broach an
important conversation. If you allow
fun times and difficult discussions to
encroach on one another, you won t
find value in either.
Find ways to communicate
when you're apart
Use technology to your advantage.
It s easy to send a text, chat, photo,
Facebook message, or even Snapchat
to your partner throughout the day,
just to check in.
"It s hard for me at work, and I m
honestly not thinking about (sexting),"
Aaron explains. "And it s not like I don t
want to think about (Jila) or about it.
It s just, when I finish something, I
need to jump on the next thing. I don t
really have time to just sit and think."
Where s the common ground? Maybe
Aaron can acknowledge he appreci-
ates---and is excited by---the sexts, as
long as Jila can understand he s focused
on work and doesn t expect him to fully
engage every time.
Keep your workday conversations
light (photos, jokes, whatever), loving
(a few sweet nothings), or logistical
(regarding plans for after work, for
example). As for sexts, best to finish
that conversation in person.
Work hard at sex
"She thinks we have a really bad sex
life," Aaron blurts out, half-joking.
"I wouldn t say we have a really bad
sex life," Jila jumps in, partially defend-
ing herself and partially reeling him
back in. "I think it s something every
couple needs to put work into. You
have to be proactive and you have to
seek out what your partner wants at
all times. And I think that s something
we could work on."
While we d all like organic, spur-of-
the-moment sex on the kitchen table,
sometimes couples have to schedule it
in. It sounds oxymoronic, but you can
(at least partially) plan spontaneity.
Doing something out-of-the-ordinary
beforehand, even if it s a regularly
planned event, can make sex feel more
novel and exciting. Candlelit yoga or a
swing dance class after work can trans-
form the experience in the bedroom.
Consider it fore-foreplay. And be
opportunistic: Even after a mundane
dinner at home, the kitchen table is
Fight exhaustion with
compromise (and sleep)
"There are nights where working
retail kills me because I m on my feet
all day," laments, Jila, noticeably pained
by the thought of ten hours in heels.
"Sometimes Aaron doesn t even want
to talk, he just wants to come home
and pass out. It affects everything."
Exhaustion is no excuse for avoid-
ance. Yet, sleep is vital to your well-
being and your relationship, too. Find
a time both of you will have the energy
to engage. If it s something urgent that
can t wait, address it. But if you can
get some rest now and block out 20
minutes tomorrow for a conversation
or even sex, maybe that s the best. It s
really about compromise and, some-
times, a little coercion.
Use being busy to your advantage
A lot of people might say they do a
better job with time management when
they re busy. What s more, if two busy
people feel productive and empowered
by their hectic lifestyle, that s an advan-
tage, because feeling good about your-
self always helps a relationship.
In the end, it s about priorities. You
can t give 100 per cent of your time to
everything. Do the pros of the rela-
tionship outweigh the cons? Is it worth
fighting for? For these two, the answer
"No matter how exhausted or cranky
I am," Jila says, "at the end of the night,
all I want to do is fall asleep with him."
YOUR DAILY HEALTH
News and advice
How busy people make time for intimacy
If two busy people feel productive and empowered by their hectic lifestyle, that's an advantage, because
feeling good about yourself always helps a relationship. PHOTO: ISTOCK
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