For the overworked, overcommitted, and all-around overwhelmed couples, Peter Fraenkel, Ph.D., has one piece of advice: “Don’t try to schedule time together. Schedules are more work. And you don’t need any more work.”
Instead, Fraenkel, the director of the Center for Time, Work, and the Family at the Ackerman Institute for the Family, in New York City, tells couples to come up with a list of things they can enjoy together that can be done in less than a minute: telling a joke, one long kiss, etc.
These 60-second pleasure points, as Fraenkel calls them, don’t all have to be face-to-face. He even suggests using the tools that make many individuals feel overextended — a BlackBerry or cell phone — for private matters.
Couples are encouraged to send a quick text message or e-mail links to a funny Web site or a restaurant review (and a note: “Let’s do takeout from here tonight?”).
He asks clients to each initiate three pleasure points a day. Couples report that this practice not only instills a better sense of connection throughout the week but, as Fraenkel says, “also greatly relieves each partner’s concern that they could never find any time for the other.”
And it lowers the couple’s expectations for a vacation — suddenly, they don’t look at those two weeks in Bermuda as their only chance to connect but rather as a chance to lengthen those pleasure points, stretching that 60-second kiss into something more.