In relationships there are three primary factors that need to be balanced to achieve happiness: income earning, domestic duties, intimacy.
Just like the three constraints of project management, time, cost and quality, it always seems that success requires some compromise across all three factors or the sacrifice of one in pursuit of the other two.
But as I discovered last week, we can have some cake and eat it too when it comes to relationships.
Glass half empty
As I talk to friends who are also parents of young children I hear common tales of relationships becoming stressed, under pressure or dry.
I hear tales of distance between partners because both of them are busy holding down some sort of enterprise (job, business, etc) while also keeping on top of domestic duties (raising children, chores, budgeting, etc).
What can fall off the table is time for intimacy; eye contact, conversation about things other than who’s picking up which child or cooking or cleaning, time together, all the way through to physical contact and sex.
Leonard Cohen once wrote, ‘love’s the only engine of survival’ and I’d add that intimacy is an important fuel for sustaining that love.
Glass half full
It’s so easy to settle into the relentless drudgery of hauling yourself ever forward through the rut of routine without lifting your head to see that there is another person in your relationship quite possibly doing and feeling the same.
But last week, something shook me out of that malaise.
As I was getting up from the lounge, I asked my wife, whether she’d like anything from the kitchen.
She said a glass of water and then added, thanks for asking.
It struck me at that moment that little acts of kindness and courtesy are not just kindling for the fire of intimacy, they are intimacy itself.
Just a split second was all it took to buoy the third prong of the relationship triad and achieve some equilibrium, so it might just be that we can have cake and eat some too on the pathway to relationship resilience.
This means smiles, simple courtesies and meaningful embraces, which are easy to slip into the spaces between moments, form a readily available source of fuel for your relationship’s ‘engine of survival’.