If you think of your average day, there is a rhythm to it. How you navigate the world, who you see, the actions you take, these all tend to fall in to a bit of a routine. But, what about your partners own rhythm? Do you sync? Are their points in time when your own rhythms intersect?
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. It’s important that you and your partner go to bed at the same time (at least a few nights each week). But, although I felt strongly that this is important for couples, I wanted to seek research to support this belief (or possibly dispute it). What I came to discover is that couples whose wake and sleep patterns are mismatched “report significantly less marital adjustment, more marital conflict, less time spent in serious conversation, less time spent in shared activities, and less frequent sexual intercourse than matched couples” (Larson, Crane, & Smith, 2007). Wow, that was more than even I expected.
So, what is the research really saying? I’m not going to sit here and lecture you on your bedtime routine with your partner. However, if you look beyond the specifics, what this really appears to be addressing is time spent connecting. Do you feel as though you and your partner connect on an emotional level each day? If the answer is no, it’s time to sync your rhythms. This doesn’t necessarily mean that your avoiding one another, although this might be the case if living with your partner during this COVID-19 pandemic! However, it does mean that there is a lack of time together, connecting in a meaningful way. Many often describe this dynamic as feeling like they have a roommate instead of a partner living with them. If you are finding it hard to get on the same page as your partner, consider some of these ideas for syncing your rhythms:
- Connect during transitions. Transitions where you are both coming and going throughout the day create opportunities for physical connection. Before you head out the door, make a point to tell your partner you love them and engage in some form of physical touch, whether it be a kiss goodbye or a nice, long hug. A hug can go a long way in leading you and your partner to feel connected and in tune with one another.
- Share a meal together. Although life is hectic, meal time can be one of the best and easiest opportunities to slow down and connect. You both do have to eat after all. Take time to share thoughts, events, updates, and feelings with one another. This is an opportunity to put the phone down and really be present with your partner. My partner and I work right next to one another and at times will take the opportunity to meet for lunch. We like to call them our little “mini dates” and they are a great way for us to connect without trying to talk over our toddler.
- Use your weekends to your benefit. After a long work week, it can be easy for us to get caught up in running errands and getting all the endless things done off our to-do list on the weekends. However, use this time as a chance for fun. Sit back and watch a movie together, play a game. Whatever it is, take time away from hobbies, tasks, and work to spend with one another. Time together has to be made a priority for your relationship to thrive and continue to grow.
- Go to bed at the same time. I don’t think I have to explain this one again but try it! Bed time is a great opportunity for emotional connection and intimacy. Often, it’s one of the rare chances during your day to connect while having minimal distractions or interruptions.
From looking at these examples, I hope that you can see that it does not have to be big, grand plans for spending time together. However, you should be able to say that you engaged in some form of contact, whether it be physical or emotional, each day. We often hear others say the common phrase “you can’t pour from an empty cup.” This also rings true for relationships. You have to invest time in them and create opportunities for your daily rhythms to align as a means of maintaining connection.
Choose one idea listed and try it out! Where do you find an opportunity to sync more with your partner? Can you alter your schedule to align more closely with them?