When you have three kids, two full-time jobs, a household, and a marriage, sometimes one of those has to fall by the wayside. We have only 24 hours in the day, and kids have immediate needs, jobs have deadlines, bills need to be paid, groceries need to be bought, dinners need to be made.
But marriages seem to lack everyday demands. If my bills aren’t paid, I could lose my house. My job isn’t done well, I could lose my job. No food means starvation. Child neglect is not an option.
But my marriage is crucial to my well-being. I want to live in a harmonious home, where love is palpable, affection is given freely, and we talk to each other and not yell at each other. That requires communication.
Sometimes, my husband and I have NO time to talk at home. Our children are high-maintenance, in the best of ways — they love to talk and play games. But then they are high-maintenance in the worst of ways — they get sick, they need homework help, they fight each other. And, oh yeah — they require food and clothes. Every day. Bills don’t pay themselves. My job requires an incredible amount of brain power.
So what do we do to make sure WE are okay? To make sure WE are meeting each other’s needs instead of always only meeting other people’s needs, including our children? We use technology to our benefit.
My husband and I talk every day on Google chat. Every day. Multiple times a day. We talk about our kids, we talk about our bills, we talk about our jobs.
But mostly, we talk about each other.
We express gratitude when we didn’t get a chance to do it properly. If the morning was really rushed and tempers flared, our 2pm G-chat is an opportunity, with calmed down emotions, to discuss what went wrong and how we can change it tomorrow. The medium allows for some dispassion and requires us to actually listen before we speak. We can strategize about a child without letting them know we are talking about them. We can say sorry and give each other the grace we deserve, knowing that we are both doing our best.*
We can work on us and what we want and need and then save our face-to-face together time to put those things into action. We can give each other gentle reminders about who we want to be, as parents and friends and lovers. Today, we talked about how to get out the house better and faster without yelling or getting upset with each other or the kids. We talked about how we don’t want the morning to be so tense. I don’t want him to be passive aggressive and sarcastic with me or the kids. He wants me to light more of a fire under the kids. We talked about how to make that happen.
And we either of us feels a little talked out, we can bow out of the conversation gracefully by saying “I have to get back to work. Love you!” Unlike in face-to-face, no hurt feelings. Because jobs.
And tonight, when we are together, our bedtime can be used for more important things. Because sex lives. Because laughter and fun.
So if you are feeling like you are missing serious talking time with your partner, if you feel like the metaphorical ships in the night, try using technology. Get gmail accounts. Open gmail on your work computer. And talk to your homie lover friend.
Dr. Mama Esq.
* We can even get a little naughty. But I’m not going to talk about that part.
P.S. — It’s also a great way to leave your kids at home alone and have a way to talk and see them without them having their own phone or a house phone.