I don’t like playing the busy game—you know the one. You’ll never hear me at brunch or happy hour competing to be the one who seems busiest. But the truth is: I’m crazy busy and so is my husband. Running my own business comes with some really big rewards and an equally big workload. I’m pretty sure my husband who is about to wrap up a Ph.D. program would say the same thing. We’re no strangers to late nights and weekend work sessions, so figuring out how to make time for your partner was something we had to learn early.
My husband and I met as undergraduate students who balanced long commutes to school while living at home, working part-time jobs, interning, and completing research projects. I think the fact that we’ve always been equally busy really works well for us as partners and allows us to understand each other’s needs and value the time we spend together. All of that being said, we actually manage to make a lot of time for each other in our busy schedules (thanks to at-home dates!). Here are a few of our top tips for making it work:
1. Pencil each other in
Is scheduling time with your partner romantic? Some would say no, but I say yes. When we wake up in the morning, my husband and I like to look at our schedules and plan out when we’ll go on walks together. We both work from home and control our own schedules, so this is pretty easy to do.
We usually plan an early morning, lunch, and late afternoon walk. Planning to take our breaks together gives me something to look forward to all day and stops me from wasting them by scrolling through social media.
We also plan out what we’re going to do every weekend and when, even if it’s not something exciting. Setting time aside to work on our patio garden or to try a new recipe helps us make it a priority and not let opportunities to spend time together slip through the cracks.
2. Sweat it out together
I’m not the biggest fan of working out, but my husband loves it. He works out 5-6 days a week for an hour or so, whereas until recently, my workouts were a bit sporadic. I used to go to the gym, but I now join my husband in his at-home workouts most days. Other days, he’ll go with me to the gym so we can mix it up. When at home, we’ll turn on the news or a documentary to watch while we work out and chat between sets. Recently, I really needed to talk through something with him, and in between squats, I was able to pick his brain, work on solving my problem, and strengthen my core. If that doesn’t scream romance, I don’t know what does.
3. Don’t divide and conquer
A few years back, my husband was surprised to hear that one of his family members never went grocery shopping with her husband. She was equally surprised to find out we always go together. Would it be more productive for us to divide and conquer our chores? Absolutely, and if we’re really crunched for time, we’ll do so, but generally, we run all errands together and clean our apartment in a “power hour” side by side. Doing these chores together makes us not dread them, passes the time faster, and helps us manage our life together instead of separately.
4. Prioritize time with each other
I’ll be the first to admit that, pre-pandemic, I ran from social obligation to social obligation whenever I wasn’t working. Often, my weekends were packed full of outings with friends and visits to see both of our families who live nearby. There was nothing wrong with this, but oftentimes we spent more time with other people than each other. The forced pause that 2020 threw our way changed my perspective. Just because you have free time doesn’t mean you owe it to anyone.
Now, I make a point to leave one major chunk of weekend time open for just us to spend time together whether that be a date on Friday night or simply lounging around the house all day on Sunday. Once you’ve been together for long enough, it can feel like you don’t need to set time aside for your significant other—especially if you live together—and it’s important to remember that time together can be a non-negotiable part of your schedule.
5. Limit TV time
A few years back, we threw out our aging television and didn’t replace it when we realized our TV habits were getting a bit unhealthy. I’m happy to say three years later, we’re still TV free! We still watch television programs and movies on our laptops, but we found that limiting our screen time really helped us enjoy more quality time together.
Last night when we realized there was nothing substantial to watch, we simply sat on the couch and talked through the events of the day for the last hour before going to bed—nice and early, I might add. Instead of frittering away an hour watching something we weren’t invested in (which we were admittedly tempted to do), we squeezed in some valuable quality time. Sometimes being aware of how you and your partner are spending time together is the best way to take back control of it.