Relationship Connection: Reclaiming a drifting marriage

Question: 
 
I've been married for ten years to a wonderful man but at the end of the day we're too tired to spend much time together.  On the weekends, he leaves me home with the kids while he goes out with his friends, sometimes until one or two in the morning.  I want that feeling back that we used to have when we first fell in love.
 
Answer:

 
I’m glad to hear that you’re not okay with this arrangement!   Sounds like a bummer way to spend a weekend, if you ask me.  Let’s talk about what you can do in this situation.
 
First, I’m curious to know why you’re too tired to spend time with each other on the weeknights.  Are you just sitting in different rooms watching TV?  Or, do you actually have energy to do your own things, but just not together?   I’m certainly not against couples having their own individual time at home, however, there is a bigger pattern of disconnection going on here with your marriage.
 
The other question, of course, is how you became the designated babysitter on weekends while he’s out hanging out with his kids.  There is nothing wrong with you staying with your kids on a weekend, but it doesn’t sound like you’re enjoying the experience.  That frustration toward your husband isn’t going to be good for the kids or your marriage. 
 
I encourage you to start by pulling your husband aside in a quiet moment and make sure you have his full attention (no TV, computer, etc).  Let him know that you’re burning out from the disconnection and want to have more connection.  Make sure to own your part in the disconnection as well.  He needs to know that you are taking responsibility for also allowing the drift to occur.
 
Many couples experience marital drift.  Ten years of marriage is plenty of time to let all kinds of things get in the way of your marriage if you’re not careful.  Bill Doherty wrote a great book called “Take Back Your Marriage” which addresses this very subject.  It’s a short read and gives you immediate solutions to a very fixable problem. 
 
I wouldn’t recommend spending a lot of time trying to blame or figure out how you got to this point.  Instead, I would simply cut everyone else out of your plans for a few weekends and start dating again. 
 
You can talk in between dates about how to become more consistently connected in the evenings and weekends.  Sometimes couples simply need to become proactive and begin resisting the pull of disconnection that naturally happens to marriages.

If he resists and doesn’t want to spend time with you in the evenings or weekends, then there are bigger problems going on that need to be addressed.
 
These problems will more than likely require more conversations and probably some marriage counseling.  If you’re used to spending your time apart, it might take the help of a professional to help get you guys back on track. 

Don’t give up easily on trying to get that connection back.  This may be a major effort for both of you to get back in sync with one another.  It’s work worth doing!
 
Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in St. George, UT.  Please send questions for future columns to:  geoff@lovingmarriage.com. Geoff maintains a blog, article archive, Twitter feed, and Facebook page which are available at www.geoffsteurer.com.

Twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/geoffsteurer
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