My husband and I are happy together, but we're at a kinda unhappy point in our lives. He's dealing with a chronic health condition that understandably takes up a lot of his time and energy — and mine, too, in supporting him and secretly worrying about him. It's like having a full-time job on top of our full-time jobs. We don't have enough free time to hang out and enjoy things right now. How can we carve out some fun time together? Beyond Netflix, I mean!
— Happier Together (female, 31)
Dear Happier Together,
Obviously, you love your husband and want to help him in every way you can, but coping with an illness can put a strain on any relationship. It's easy to forget that you need to take care of yourself in order to be any good at helping somebody else. Kinda like how they tell you to put your oxygen mask on first in airplane safety instructions.
My husband was very ill for a while last year. I thought I could handle everything myself, but it was incredibly draining, both physically and emotionally, and I started to have a little caregiver burnout. (Caringbridge.org is a great resource.) Once I gave myself permission to take a break here and there — as simple as having my sister hang out with my husband while I went out for an hour or two — I felt a million times better. So please remember to be good to yourself.
As far as finding time to hang out with your hubby: This might sound a little lame, but you just need to make it happen. People find time to do all kinds of things that aren't particularly enjoyable: mowing the lawn, paying bills, going to the dentist. Spending time with the person you love most in the world is way more important than any of those things, don't you think?
You don't have to shoot for the moon. Start by just shaking up your daily routine a little. Have breakfast outside, find a recipe for dinner that you can make together, sit outside and look at the stars for 20 minutes before you go to bed. Easy-peasy. Life is too damn short not to enjoy yourself.
Good luck and God bless,