On the Clock: Time as an Overlooked Source of Couple Stress

On the Clock: Time as an Missed Supply of Couple Stress


Most companions have mentioned or heard some model of those time clashes.

  • “Why cannot you ever be on time?”
  • “Are you aware how a lot time you spend watching soccer?
  • “Tonight’s not an excellent time.”

What’s often missed within the backwards and forwards arguments about being late, the opposite’s use of time, or the dearth of intimate time is a pair’s appreciation of the complication of time as a stress issue of their lives and relationships.

In his e-book, A Geography of Time, social psychologist, Robert Levine reminds us that the that means of time could be very subjective. Touring internationally, Levine studies that to essentially know folks is to know the time values they stay by. At first amazed, confused, enraged, and judgmental of what he perceived as lateness, inaccurate clocks, tempo of labor, and wasted time, Levine got here to know that there are huge cultural, historic, and particular person variations within the tempo of individuals’s lives. He means that there could also be “no beliefs as ingrained or hidden” as these about time.

Understanding Your Personal and Your Accomplice’s Sense of Time

If we apply this to {our relationships}, we’re prone to discover that every of us has our personal private “sense of time” and is a operate of household, tradition, gender, and the actual context we discover ourselves in.

This broader understanding of your personal and your companion’s sense of time might make you extra conscious of similarities, extra accepting of the variations, and higher in a position to make use of each as a supply of energy reasonably than stress.

“Being on Time” vs. “ Being Late”

In case you are the companion who prides your self on being on time however married to a companion who’s chronically late (or the reverse) have both of you thought of discussing your variations when it comes to household of origin patterns, work overload, lack of free time, or nervousness? For instance:

  • Do you come from a household that insisted on being unfashionably early for each vacation, college occasion, or occasion?
  • Is there a lot to do with the children, the job, and the home that it’s inconceivable to be on time?
  • Are you so overloaded at work that being late truly displays an try to carve out some free time?
  • Do you face social gatherings, appointments, or college occasions with hidden nervousness that sabotages the potential for being on time?

Younger couple arguing – man’s gesture exhibits they’re late.

Supply: srdjanns74/iStock

Letting Time Be on Your Facet

Mutual curiosity, dialogue, and understanding of one another’s punctuality or lateness opens the choices for mutual methods and suppleness. It places time in your aspect.

  • “I understand how a lot it’s a must to do to prepare—I’ll take care of the children.”
  • “How about I come later with dessert? It should give me a while to unwind.”
  • “What can we do collectively to make going to this occasion much less traumatic?”

Being Possessive of Your Accomplice’s Time

One thing that I’ve discovered working with {couples} (which will play a job within the surprising discovering that the longer {couples} stay collectively earlier than marriage the upper their divorce price) is that when married, companions really feel entitled to evaluate or develop into possessive of one another’s time.

  • “You had been out educating all day. Why do you want a girls’ evening out?”
  • “How are you going to waste a gorgeous afternoon watching baseball after we may exit?”
  • “Do you understand how lengthy you might have been misplaced in that backyard?”

Recognizing the Completely different Makes use of of Time

In his research of time throughout cultures, Robert Levine discovered that folks don’t waste time, they simply use time in another way. That is may very well be a robust perception for {couples}.

  • What if a companion may acknowledge the “Women Evening Out” as wanted recreation?
  • What if a companion may perceive the soccer watcher’s depth as getting his dose of vicarious play and pleasure?
  • What if the companion acknowledged the companion’s ” being misplaced within the backyard” as being in “move state,” a state of “time-free considering” recognized by Mihaly Cszentmihalyi as reparative and restful.

If companions may acknowledge the worth of the completely different makes use of of time by themselves and their companions, there can be much less judgement and resentment of one another. Companions could also be extra open to sharing their ardour or completely different experiences and extra amenable to spending time collectively.

The Influence of Children on Time

Most would agree that from the time youngsters arrive, the time calls for on {couples} enhance as their time alone or collectively decreases. Be it the problem of the 2-month-old up at 2 a.m., the 5-year-old who can’t sleep in his personal mattress, or the 15-year-old who has forgotten when to return residence to his personal mattress, the time challenges for companions are excessive.

From “Me to We”

An essential coping mechanism for {couples} who develop into mother and father that has endurance comes from the analysis of Gottman and Gottman ( 2007) described of their e-book, When Child Makes Three. They report that these {couples} who modified their perspective from “Me to We” from being pregnant on did higher dealing with the calls for of parenthood.

Use of ” Me to We” with Time

The perfect translation of a “We” perspective when it comes to time that I’ve seen with {couples} is with these {couples} who take some time to observe and create time alternatives for his or her companion.

  • “I’ll take the twins to their soccer follow. Take a break, you look exhausted.”
  • “Go for the run. I’m watching the sport, the infant’s monitor is on.”
  • “I’ll keep as much as anticipate the children to return residence. You may have work tomorrow.”

There’s something about being attuned to your companion’s want for time and understanding your companion has your again that finally ends up opening extra time for each. It’s the good thing about approaching your life along with kids as a ” We.” Caring and being cared for is a robust use of {couples}’ time.

What About Intimate Time?

A typical grievance of companions who need to enhance their intimacy is that there’s not sufficient time for intercourse. Given the chaos of this tradition and the calls for on folks’s lives, it’s true that most individuals don’t have the time—they must one way or the other make the time.

That being mentioned, it’s worthwhile for {couples} to take the time to think about intimacy:

  • {Couples} typically fall right into a routine that has stopped working for them.
  • Overloaded, they not often take a while to think about and even focus on the time of day or evening they like for lovemaking.
  • Every kind of assumptions are made about their companion which they discover to not be true as soon as they begin speaking.

When {couples} begin with mutual compassion and care, agreeing with out blame how troublesome it has been to get collectively, how exhausted, how a lot they miss one another, they typically discover that even the trouble to speak about it, joke about it, and attempt to plan some sort of intimate time is intimate time.


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