There are many conflicting and dualistic messages coming through our society these days. We’re shown by the media that we must acquire all the latest in material possessions in order to be happy, yet we’re told money can’t buy happiness. We’re shown that we’ll never get ahead unless we’re thin and beautiful, and then we’re told it’s what’s on the inside that truly counts. We grow up believing in fairy tales, only to be told in adulthood that relationships are actually hard work. As we get older, if we’re paying attention to the lessons offered to us through our experiences, we eventually do learn where the truth lies; that the “quick fix” and the surface solution are not realistic or effective for such complex beings as we humans. In the romantic realm, which can be one of the most challenging areas in our lives, lifestyle differences can be a source of added stress in an already dynamic situation.
1. Don’t sweat the small stuff. When time is limited with your partner due to your differing schedules, it’s important to make the time you do have together quality time. Don’t waste it with small talk or by complaining about your day – save that for your mother ;-). Enjoy each other’s company by doing something fun together, and stay connected by really listening to each other. It’s easy to feel disconnected when not spending much time together, so go that extra mile by really trying staying in tune with your partner.
2. Schedule regular time together. This should be a non-negotiable, regularly scheduled block of time where it’s just the two of you. Try to make this a regular time each week – it helps to have something consistent to look forward to and count on. This goes for physical contact too if that’s an issue.
3. Remember you’re equal. Don’t expect your partner to completely alter their life to fit around yours – you will both need to compromise here. Find a middle ground that you both verbally agree on – this will stop resentment from festering, which is what inevitably happens when only one partner gets their needs met.
4. It’s the little things that count. A little note inside your partner’s pocket or briefcase or a sweet text is a quick way to let your partner know you’re thinking of them. These little things really do go a long way in staying connected with each other.
5. Don’t be tied to your lifestyle. If your scheduling conflicts are becoming too stressful for your relationship, you might want to consider keeping your options open for a different job, or moving closer to your place of work to cut down on your commute time. Every problem has a solution, we just have to be open to hearing it.