Boring married-people conversations


I have a close friend who pointed out that a lot of couples' communication consists primarily of what he called "operational conversation," the boring, endless task of discussing who will do what when with what child and where...and then throw in laundry and the grocery list. And it becomes routine. At the end of the day, you feel like you accomplished something together as a family, but you don't feel together at all.

OK, so married people with kids and jobs have a lot to do. Deciding how to get it done is unavoidable. But why must that mean that we have to make intimacy, playing with our kids, or church fit around our daily tasks of work, housekeeping, and activities? Why "must" we, and not the opposite? As the renegade (and reliably crude) therapist Robert Ellis said, "Must, must, must! Why must?"

Take as a counterexample another friend of mine, who rather than "balance" life and children, constantly "invited" his 1-year-old son into his daily routine, for instance strapping him to his chest as he shopped for groceries. My friend narrated everything: "OK Jake, should Dad buy the good beans for 50 cents more, or the cheap beans to save money?" or, "Look how they spell 'lite' on this whipped cream? Isn't that weird?" This child was speaking in paragraphs at 18 months, reading advanced material at 3 years old, and he actually knows his dad as someone more than a ride to practice. Jake was never baby-sat by a tablet, but nor did his dad ever stop working two jobs to scrape by while his wife suffered from a crippling health condition. My friend didn't magically make more time, he got creative.

It's not easy or comfortable to prioritize intimacy and cooperative play above keeping up the house, but if you don't, who are you keeping up the house for? The next couple who moves in? So stop complaining about not having the time, and get creative!