In the debut edition of Mother Knows Best, June-August, Ron Heilmann, local marriage and family counselor, outlined five ways couples can invest in their relationships. For the next several issues of Syracuse Parent, we will feature an article on the five ways he suggested: Be Intentional; Spend Time Together; Resolve Conflict in a Mutually Acceptable Manor; Use Reflective Listening Skills; Forgive the Other Person for Going Back to their Default Behavior. Last month we tackled being intentional. This is the second part of the series.

There is a lot of ground to cover on a weekly basis in a household with children. It includes getting the kids to school or to daycare, completing projects for work, making sure there is food on the table, running the kids to various activities and so forth. As a result, Ron Heilmann has noticed that couple time is a last priority for many married people who come to his counseling practice.

“Priorities are such that couples put their relationship last,” says Heilmann. The modern-day lifestyle of running a home can be all consuming. Relationships suffer because, in many cases, quality time for partners comes behind the family and work and then, if there’s time, people get together as a couple, says Heilmann.

“In contemporary households, there are often two-career families,” said Heilmann. “What happens is the quality of time we make for one another is very limited. Mostly by default, couples just don’t spend

enough time together.”

In order to span this bridge, Heilmann recommends planning time together as a couple at least once a week. Whereas our forefathers and mothers may not have had to plan for as much time together, it is essential to the health of the modern-day relationship.

“Men experience things through activities,” says Heilmann. “So you have to come up with an activity that appeals to both. My wife and I hit on the activity of riding bikes together.” Every Sunday the couple bike rides up the Erie Canal. He knows bike riding is not for everyone but he’s noticed that since they started this activity that  they both enjoy, they are more in tune to one another. That helps  them deal with conflict or problems that arise within their relationship with more understanding and concern for one another’s feelings.

“People absolutely have to be intentional about setting time aside,” said Heilmann. Without it, passion and intimacy start to wane and eventually, one or both partners will start to lose interest sexually in the other person.

“The key is to pick something that is mutually enjoyable so both people get to experience the enrichment,” said Heilmann. “If you don’t set aside time, it won’t happen and the quality of the relationship suffers.”