Jason and Carolyn are a power couple. He’s an investment banker and she’s an attorney. They have two daughters ages 7 and 5. In between jobs and parenting, they squeeze in gym workouts. They serve on community committees and volunteer at their daughters’ school.
There isn’t much time left over for their love life, which is their real neglected child. To say that the romantic element of their relationship is compromised is a gross understatement. By the time they collapse at night they have barely enough energy left to turn out the lights. And sex? What’s that? If they make love once a month these days, it’s a minor miracle.
Things were not always this way. “Before we had kids, it was all very different, Jason told us. We both knew that there would be changes, but neither of us ever imagined this amount of overwhelm.”
Carolyn added, “I’ve always been blessed with a strong constitution. I can accomplish as much in one day as three people. I thought I’d be able to over-achieve forever. Boy was I wrong! Jason and I find ourselves with much more weight than we can carry and it’s hard to see what we can put down.”
Jason: “I was brought up to believe that you eat your vegetables first and clean your plate before you can have dessert. In my mind that translates into fulfilling your commitments, then you get to play. Nowadays, playtime never happens. And all work and no play makes Jason an unhappy boy.”
Carolyn: “And makes Carolyn an unhappy girl. Neither one of us have been a lot of fun to be around lately. I don’t even like being around myself these days. I used to have a great disposition, but now I find myself grumbling about how burnt out I am. I know that we need to do something, but I just don’t see how or where the changes can come from.”
The couples’ relationship is the hub of the wheel of the family, from which all other parts of our lives radiate like spokes. When the wheel is out of balance, things don’t run smoothly. Our capacity to manage stress diminishes and even small difficulties can seem insurmountable. When the hub is strong, the wheel is balanced, then even the biggest challenges become manageable.
Jason and Carolyn are not lacking in intelligence, intentionality, or motivation. But they aren’t putting their attention in the area that will bring about the greatest return, their relationship. By feeding their relationship with time, energy, attention, and pleasure, it will thrive. And how, one might ask, can it be possible to add another plate to the twelve that are already spinning up there? The answer to this question is simply what we refer to as “The Bic Cure”.
The Bic Cure is writing in ink (uneraseable) on your calendar a weekly date, and a monthly romantic getaway. Nowadays, many people have stopped using paper calendars and use their technological devices to schedule appointments. Since time spent on the maintenance of their relationship is as essential as any other aspect of their lives. This time must be held as sacred. The dates are just as important as any work commitments dentist visits or pediatric check ups.
Jason and Carolyn both accepted the “Bic challenge”, and while Jason was optimistic about trying out this idea, Carolyn was somewhat hesitant and protested that scheduling took some of the fun out of it. But Jason suggested that scheduled intimacy time didn’t preclude the possibility of spontaneous interludes and might even make them more likely.
Trying Something New
Carolyn agreed to give the Bic cure a try. They hired reliable childcare for time to nurture the other child in their family, their marriage. Her fear that scheduled intimacy time would be mechanical proved to be unfounded. “Once we got into it, I was amazed at how much I enjoyed being close again. I hadn’t realized how long it had been since we’d shared time together that didn’t involve work, kids, or money.” I loved the feeling of being free from worries that prevent us from really being with each other. I felt like someone who had been dying of thirst who was finally getting a long drink of cool, refreshing water.”
We will have to draw boundaries around some professional opportunities and social engagements, but it is for a good cause. Our family and friends will just have to understand the importance of our prioritizing our romantic partnership. The partnership is a living, breathing, growing entity that needs nurturance and care just as our literal children do. And when we take care of our primary relationship, it grows healthy, strong and beautiful just as our literal children do.
Linda Bloom L.C.S.W. has served as psychotherapist and seminar leader practicing relationship counseling almost forty years. Check out her OMTimes Bio. If you like what you read, click here to sign up Bloomwork’s monthly inspirational newsletter and receive our free e-book: Going For the Gold: Tools, practice, and wisdom for creating exemplary relationships. Follow Bloomwork on Facebook!