In 2007, I set out to build my first business as a health coach. I was putting myself through school, working a full-time job and a second part-time job, all while taking the steps to lay the foundation for my business.
I was busy.
I was also married, and all that work-work-work was a major drain on my relationship. The more I worked, the more we struggled, and the more we struggled, the more I worked to distract myself from the turmoil in my marriage. It was a downward spiral.
Even after my business had traction and I was juggling fewer plates, I still found reasons to stay up on my laptop until 2 a.m., worked while we watched movies together and snuck out of bed early in the morning to check my email. Even though I would have said my relationship was my priority, many of my actions said otherwise. Eventually, my workaholism contributed to our divorce.
In my many years as a women’s leadership coach, I’ve seen women in the same destructive pattern: putting the vast majority of their attention on their careers, experiencing growing disconnection in their partnership and using work as a distraction from their deteriorating relationship.
Through working with many of these women as private clients, and making constructive changes in my current relationship, I’ve learned a thing or two about how to prevent (or turn around) relationship ruin while still making ample space for your ambitions.
1. Enjoy a 10-second kiss
Not all great acts of love have to take a great deal of time. Popularized by marriage expert Ellen Kreidman, the 10-second kiss is simple, yet powerful. Each day, when you say hello or goodbye to your partner, take 10 seconds to kiss. This is longer and more passionate and connected than a quick peck and makes a world of difference.
2. Create one admin day per month, rather than talking about them daily
In a recent conversation with my friends Amber and Nathan, they shared that they have a monthly ritual of spending a day together to handle all household and business administrative tasks: bill paying, appointment scheduling, decision-making, etc.
Most couples either split these tasks (often leaving the other in the dark about what’s going on) or end up spending lots of their day-to-day time in these discussions, which can lead to a loss of passion and connection over time. Instead, try organizing these tasks into one day a month and keep your daily conversations more enlivening.
3. Go to bed together
One of the major failures in my marriage is that we neglected this common-yet-critical advice. Remember when you first fell in love and couldn't wait to be snuggled up together? It starts here.
4. Have a weekly meeting on Sundays
Carve out some time each Sunday to look at the week ahead and share what you’re excited about, where and how you can support each other, and what your relationship needs. If you’re worried this might turn into an argument, agree to come into the conversation looking for ways to better love the other and leave past frustrations at the door.
5. Share household chores
Many women have shared that their biggest frustration is that they’re rocking their career and single-handedly running their household. Often, though, I’ve found in my practice that these same women also haven’t asked for the support they need. If this is you, leave the past in the past and simply share what kind of chores you need to get off your plate. Perhaps you’ll decide together to hire a housekeeper or share in the cooking and laundry. Take your needs seriously.
6. Create agreements around work time
Decide as a couple when work hours end and agree to stick to it. Put your phones away and leave your inbox for tomorrow. If you can’t fathom how you could possibly do it all between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., you’re either trying to do too much or you’re not managing your time effectively at work. Either way, all work and no romance is a surefire way to find yourself single. Prioritize time together.
7. Take a tech-free “staycation”
When many couples are facing relationship challenges, or are just trying to spice things up, they plan a big vacation together. But that big vacation can often carry big expectations and can lead to disappointment. Instead of waiting until you can take off to Mexico, enjoy a quiet weekend at home. Turn off your cell phones, ignore household chores for a couple of days and keep the computers at bay. Make fun plans to go a movie and dinner, cuddle and read books on the sofa, or go to a museum together.
8. Get a handle on your calendar
If you’re feeling frazzled and overwhelmed by your calendar, it’s time to sit down and get things in order. Take things off your to-do list and put them into your calendar so you can see exactly when things will get done.
9. Treat your dates like important business meetings
When date night comes around, treat it with the same respect as you would an important business meeting. Honor your plans, keep your phone off the table and out of your hands. Be present.
10. Get dressed for dinner
It’s awesome when you reach that place in your partnership where you feel comfortable enough to let your partner see you at your messiest. But if you’re not feeling particularly sexy in your sweats, it may be time to get dressed. When we feel sexier, we feel more alive and when we feel more alive we bring life to our partnership. Do it for yourself and see how it nourishes your partnership.
Nisha Moodley is a member of the DailyWorth Experts program. Read more about the program here.