Sometimes our lives seem to run faster than we’re able to keep up, and when this is the case for a significant period of time, the phrase “I can’t see the forest for the trees” will very likely ring true. When the external demands for our time, attention, and energy outweigh our own internal capacity to give, we won’t see much in front of us. In fact, life will usually be a blur. So, what forest are they talking about? All we see when life is moving so fast are the trees, and thousands of them – all simultaneously demanding something from us. This is “modern life”, as many of us know it. And, despite this seemingly intolerable condition, many of us don’t stop long enough to even question the sanity of living our lives this way; it’s just the way life is. But over time, for many, living like this will eventually result in serious consequences for the person themselves, as well as for their relationships. As ‘they’ say, something’s got to give, and it usually does. And, consequently, this is often the scenario that brings many couples into my office for therapy.
One of the most common issues that couples face is a lack of quality time spent together. And, if they’re fortunate, they may be able to find a few extra minutes for themselves in-between demanding jobs, raising children, and just the basic personal maintenance that’s required (i.e., finding time to eat properly, exercise regularly, and if all goes well, a few minutes of ‘down’ time to catch their breath). However, for most people, at the end of the day, they’re lucky if they can remember their anniversary, let alone recall why they chose to spend the rest of their lives together! And, often the time they do spend together is devoted to dealing with logistical issues, as if they’re merely business partners rather than lovers. So it’s not at all surprising that many relationships begin to ‘sag’ in the absence of the sort of time that’s needed to nurture their partnership. And, if this continues for a significant amount of time, the couple will likely begin to experience a whole roster of problems ranging from direct, or in-direct, resentment to a growing feeling of disconnection from, or even indifference toward, each other . In short, they often stop ‘seeing’ one another.
Turning this ‘staleness’ around requires a number of changes; some perhaps more challenging than others. But one of them can be as simple as booking a date with one another. This date can take place once a week, or it can mean taking a couple of days away from home every few months. The former is likely the easier to arrange, and is also more cost-effective. However, the latter is also very important in its own way, mainly because it permits the couple to spend a much longer period of time together without the ‘baggage’ that typically weighs them down when at home. And, if they set some basic rules before they embark on their ‘getaway’, like not bringing logistical, or business, conversations along with them, or agreeing to not talk incessantly about their children, then they stand at least a chance of ‘seeing’ one another again, and actually remembering what brought them together in the first place.
So, book a date. Set it in stone, and give your relationship the time it deserves. And, while you’re at it, you just might find a glimmer of the fun that somehow went missing in the everyday chaos of life. And, if on your date, or your getaway, you suddenly realize you’ve forgotten how to talk to one another outside of logistic-speak, then simply grab hold of each other’s hand, walk forward in blissful (or perhaps awkward) silence, and together enjoy the view of the forest.