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Investing in Your Relationship: Making Time

David Plude, Psy D, CEO is a licensed mental health professional at Arrowhead Psychological Clinic, P.A.

As a psychologist in the Northland and a married father of two, I have had the fortunate opportunity to assist the relationships of my clientele as well as grow within my own marriage and family. Trust me; working with my clients' challenges is much easier! Looking within and finding the patience and understanding to address whatever changes need to be made to keep us moving closer involves a level of humility, compromise, and constructive energy that challenges and overwhelms many of today's busy families.

When it comes to one's own experience of intimacy, belonging, fulfillment and happiness all come into play. This is often such a sensitive issue to couples that discussions can be quite challenging, contentious and therefore things are often left unresolved. When such issues go unresolved, the resulting resentment leads to distancing behavior and even resistance. People can begin pulling away, and/or purposely not trying to meet each other's needs. This pattern will lead couples away from a fulfilling and close relationship at the speed of light, and therefore represents a wonderfulopportunity for growth and change in a positive direction. Making the time to discuss family and relationship issues can help prevent resentment and is a great way for couples to ensure that they are continuing to build the type of relationship they desire.

For most of the couples I work with, this is easier said than done. However, it is a great first step. For multiple reasons we are all strapped for time. Long work hours, raising children, taking care of the home or other extended family members, often consumes the quality time our relationship needs to maintain a feeling of connectedness. Another reason these conversations are avoided is that they can be quite emotional. Someone is asking for change and that may mean some type of sacrifice or adjustment may need to be made. While change is never easy, it is even harder to deal with an unhappy spouse. While many of us are extremely busy and it may seem easier and less painful to "not go there," this is necessary if remaining happily married is a priority.

If you are questioning the closeness between yourself and your partner or sense resentment is building, it is definitely time to dig deep and go there. It is important to remember that intimacy and closeness is often times experienced differently by each partner. As a result, couples need weekly opportunities to "check in" and talk about life, dreams, work, family and their relationships. While there are dozens of different therapeutic and communication based approaches to do this, one approach that I have found most successful is scheduling a weekly activity. Yes, this may mean getting a babysitter and sometimes spending money that may be hard to find. But, couples must ask themselves if they can they afford to grow apart? Activities are abundant and can vary from simple dinner dates to numerous extracurricular activities. Walking around the neighborhood, community education classes, or numerous outdoor activities are both feasible and fun! One of the most wonderful things about the Northland is the variety of seasons and seasonal activities that couples can get involved in.

Building new passions into your lifestyle and sharing them with each other helps couples build new memories and shows children the importance of playing together, helping each other, and sharing life with each other. Crank up the fun for a while and follow it up with a walk, a coffee break, lunch, or somewhere to sit and chat about life. Both of you will be in a better place to discuss the challenges and/or resentments that build within a relationship before they get too out of control. Within these activities, you will have plenty of time to talk, as well as distance yourself from the interruptions of phones, chores and children. You will have more time to reflect upon where you have come from and where you want to go. As you and your partner carve out time for your relationship to enjoy each other and work through challenges, you will often times meet other couples doing the same thing. On occasion, invite your friends and build a healthy social circle of couple friends that are also motivated to invest in their relationships. My father, a retired psychologist from Duluth, once shared with me some words of wisdom that have stayed with me to this day. He stated, "If you don't play together you don't stay together." So simple, yet so true.

We have a lot of places to play around here. So, make some time for your loved one and start having some fun!

This Article was brought to you by the licensed mental health professionals at Arrowhead Psychological Clinic, P.A. You can reach them at (218) 723-8153 or email