Your Relationship Needs a “Spring Break”

It’s no secret most of us are working more and playing less.  Ugghh… (hand raised) I have been guilty of that for years.  I have finally resigned to no longer working weekends, only took like 20+ years, and have been incorporating more play into my life.  I can’t tell you how essential it has been for me.  It’s almost like my oxygen mask.

Psychology Today published an article, “The Decline of Play and the Rise in Children’s Mental Health Disorders” in which it outlined how the lack of play in children’s lives lead to a decrease in feelings of control for children, with dire consequences.  Wowzers, right!

Adults are no different. Sort of.

Everyone remembers the scene from The Shining, where the words “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” were typed over, and over, and over. Well, Jack Nicholson’s character wasn’t entirely wrong.

The Case for Vacation: Why Science Says Breaks Are Good for Productivity” highlights a similar sentiment as Psychology Today’s article: everyone needs a break to feel and perform their best.

And you all know I’m a big proponent of the Pareto Principle, which is that 20% of our input causes 80% of our results. And you all know that getting balanced was a first order of business this year for me, still is and an on going process.   

Why all the fuss over Spring Break?

In it’s truest sense, Spring Break is a time for students to take a break from returning to school for the Spring Semester. Florida is one of the more notorious Spring Break destinations here in the U.S., historically Daytona Beach on the East Coast and Panama City Beach on the Gulf Coast.

Before you start planning your own Spring Break, stop for a moment and consider all of the leisure activities you enjoy doing, especially those with your spouse and family. How many of these leisure activities are you participating in regularly? How often do you find yourself making excuses for why you can’t take vacation, you can’t take a break, or you can’t stop working?

This month, I’m giving you a homework assignment. Counterintuitive, right? Work so you can stop working. It’s helpful though, I promise.

Take a minute to think about the things you and your partner really enjoy doing and things you enjoy doing solo. Try to come up with at least 10 activities, whether it’s 5 with your spouse, 5 alone, 10 with your spouse, 10 alone, etc.

These are the things you should prioritize when developing your weekly or monthly schedule. The beginning of every month should find you scheduling these leisure moments for yourself, your spouse, and your family.

Easier said than done, right? One of the biggest challenges the individuals and couples I work with face is getting started on implementing a new activity, task, routine, etc. It can feel like there’s a lot of effort put into making change, very little pay off. Who knows if you’ll even commit to doing those leisure activities you’ve scheduled. Need a little help deciding what to do? Or a little extra push to commit to leisure? Check out my blog on 25 Ways to Have Fun and Be Playful in Your Relationship or my others on 15 Ways to Make Your Relationship Sizzle this Summer. (Tried those? Here’s 15 more!)

My colleague Susan Block, LMFT and I created a video on “3 Things to Do Now In Your Relationship” for those individuals who were motivated and willing to begin making changes. This month, begin making the changes you want to see in your relationship, your work, your life and identify the need for a Spring Break. If you’re having a hard time hitting “Pause” on your habits, I’m just a phone call or click away at 954.401.9011 or Katie@FamilyAndCouplesCounseling.com, talk with you soon!

The Business of Relationships

March 3rd was Employee Appreciation Day and many of you reading this may have a received a small token (or large, for that matter) of appreciation from your employer. No matter the size of the gesture, I hope it brightened up your day.

Lately, it seems like appreciation is in short supply and it’s a sentiment I hear echoed in both my private practice coaching as well as my marital counseling sessions. Many individuals are willing to only work so hard at something, with little to no appreciation, especially in a relationship.

My colleague Susan Block, LMFT, and I created a video on How to Increase Appreciation for Your Partner or Your Spouse in which we discuss the importance of building a culture of appreciation within any relationship or marriage. And although this can feel like a big task to take on, it’s actually rather simple with anything if we create a clear goal, plan and system.

The number one way to incorporate appreciation into the culture of your relationship is to express gratitude in the relationship by saying, “Thank you”.  Even if it is things that you don’t “feel like” you need to acknowledge.  I hear many couples say, “well s/he should just know that… “

“Thank you for doing the dishes.”

“Thank you for giving the kids a bath tonight.”

“Thank you for being you.”

Easy right? Well, in theory, yes. Many couples, especially couples in long term relationships, struggle to incorporate gratitude and appreciation back into the relationship because they’ve lost touch with many of the things which once initially attracted them to their partner. What might have once made you laugh, you now only find irritating.

If you’re struggling to find appreciation in your relationship, it might be time to examine your role and your partner’s role in the relationship. A professor of mine once said, “You wouldn’t accept a job without having a job description, with clear roles and responsibilities, why would you enter to a relationship without something similar?”  Good one, right!   I love this one.

It might seem a little cold and calculated, to draft up some sort of contract regarding roles and responsibilities in a marriage, yet just as “good fences make good neighbors”, boundaries within a relationship can improve the health and well being of the couple.

It’s important for couples to determine who will be the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of the family and come to an agreement about how money will be spent in the family. Regular budget meetings, while boring and reminiscent of work, are crucial to the financial success of any family. Similarly, one partner will need to assume the role of of Chief Operating Officer (COO) and be responsible for coordinating the operations of the household.

Applying these types of business practices to your household allows you to honor one another’s strengths. Perhaps you can’t stand handling a budget yet your spouse or partner enjoys making sense of numbers; you’d prefer to plan a vacation. In this way, you and your partner can work together to create a budget and a plan for that dream vacation you’ve only talked about taking.

Overall it is important to acknowledge and appreciate one another for your various roles in your relationship as well as the awesome stuff about you each individually and together.  Look I never heard anyone get annoyed by too much appreciation or celebration whether it be at work or in their relationship just assure your appreciations are genuine and heartfelt.

If you’re relationship is lacking defined roles and responsibilities and you want to build a culture of appreciation, I’m just a phone call or click away at 954.401.9011 or Katie@FamilyAndCouplesCounseling.com, talk with you soon!