When two successful, driven, powerful people get into a romantic relationship, it can be a challenge for both partners to devote time, energy and attention to the relationship. As a result, it's career that often excels at the expense of the relationship. For a divorced woman -- especially if she was at one time financially dependent on her husband or if she grew up with messages from her parents or culture such as "never depend on a man" -- it can be hard to figure out how to truly "have it all."
So, how does a power couple make a relationship work?
Look, for example, at Hollywood superstars Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner.
In Affleck's Oscar acceptance speech, he said of Garner, "'I want to thank you for working on our marriage for 10 Christmases. It's good. It is work, but the best kind of work, and there's no one I'd rather work with."
Work is the key word here. It's an integral part of any relationship to "work" on it with intention. The trick is you just can't think of it as work, as it's a choice both partners make to create a stronger bond, connection, and life together.
So how can you make it work like Ben and Jennifer?
Well, if you're still here reading, you're most likely successful, driven and the B word: busy. So perhaps your first marriage or previous relationships ended because you couldn't manage to balance a successful career AND have a successful relationship. If you have a second go-around, how do you do it?
1. Plan time together. Create what we call "sacred space."
Sacred space is just that: sacred. Don't find yourselves on the couch every night after work both glued to your respective computer screens with the TV on in the background. There's nothing sacred about couch time that does not involve communication, attention and interaction.
Plan a regular date night, even during a busy week, for both of you to truly connect with each other while free of digital distractions. Maybe you can meet up for a speed lunch, or plan something for a weekend afternoon in between exercise, seeing friends, and catching up on email. Whatever you do, take a breath, transition into your feminine self, and intentionally make it a special time in which you truly play with your partner full-out.
2. Find out what makes your spouse "feel loved."
It could be sitting next to him watching sports without complaining. It may be having lunch together without checking your Facebook notifications or taking that quick, innocent glance at your inbox. Maybe it's when he runs the dishwasher without your having to ask while you're still at work. Have the conversation with your partner to find out what makes him feel loved, and then do it consistently over time.
As an added bonus, check out this site to find out his "love language" to understand if he feels loved by receiving gifts or simply having your undivided attention. Once you understand it, have at it. Do the things that you know make your partner feel special, and make sure he knows what makes you feel loved as well.
Last, let your partner know how great it is when he makes extra coffee for you to take in your car in the morning without having to ask. Expressing appreciation is critical, especially when both of you are busy, often distracted, and operating at max speed most of the time. When the person you love knows how the "extras" makes you feel, it allows both of you to have the pleasure of both giving and receiving.
3. Don't bring work home if you can possibly avoid it, and try NEVER to work in bed.
Keeping your bedroom as a zen place helps keep your relationship healthy. Don't start every morning by rolling over to check your email. Instead, take two minutes to cuddle, connect, and enjoy the warmth of his arms wrapped around you.
Also recommended: don't bring your iPad to bed with you. Checking stats right before you turn the lights off is not a great way to reconnect to your sacred space. Keep your bed an electronics-free zone whenever possible, and you'll be on the way to keeping your relationship in the problem-free zone. By making sure you go to bed without your computer, you'll be be going to bed with a little extra energy to keep the romance and passion alive.
4. Make your relationship a priority.
Although you're both busy, don't just accept that your schedule and his will never match up. If neither of you have time for for a long vacation in the months ahead, plan a staycation! Order in food, watch an old movie or plan a DIY spa day. "Couples massages," anyone? A weekend away is a great way to bond as well; go somewhere on your bucket list, even if it's just for a night. Make the hard choice and know when to say no to work and when to say yes to your relationship!
Dating with Dignity is willing to bet that if you take the steps above and make your relationship a priority, you too can make it as a power couple...just like Ben and Jen.