If you’re like most parents you devote yourself to your children, work long hours, take care of all of life’s demands and let your relationship with your loved one drop to the bottom of the heap.

You may believe that since your loved one isn’t demanding your attention like the children do that s/he doesn’t really need your time and attention. Or you may feel guilty leaving your child(ren). Or you may feel too tired so your relationship goes on autopilot until you regain enough energy to nurture it again.

Yet, communication and companionship are two of the main ingredients for keeping a couple happy and together. (1) Given the high rate of divorce in America and the incredible pain it causes, why do so many couples persist in neglecting each other?

There are many social trends putting stress on American couples.

• Both parents work outside the home in over 70% of American households.
• The average number of hours worked each week is 47 hours.
• Commute time has increased: American men spend an average of 81 minutes a day in their cars and women spend 64 minutes.
• Working couples have 22 fewer hours of personal time than they had three decades ago.
• Americans generally vacation only 10 days a year and 25% take no vacation at all.
• Americans work 12 weeks more per year in total hours than do Europeans. (2)

The crazy work ethic that Americans have adopted pulls families apart. Couples spend less time together. Families spend less time together. Couples drift apart.

Work isn’t the only culprit, however. Culturally, there’s pressure to put your child on the fast track. Organized activities for children have taken center stage in many American households in an effort to produce "Super Kids." Consider these facts from a University of Michigan study (3):

• Kids have 12 hours per week less free time.
• Play time has been decreased by three hours per week.
• Unstructured outdoor activities fell by 50%.
• Time spent in structured sports has doubled from 2 hours 20 minutes per week to 5 hours 17 minutes per week from 1981-1997. Boys and girls increased equally in structured sports time, but boys still spend twice as much time as girls in sports.
• Passive, spectator leisure (not counting television or other forms of "screen time") has increased five-fold from 30 minutes per week to over three hours per week mostly due to kids watching siblings play structured sports.

What this means is that you’re not just sending your kids outside to play, but you’re driving them to structured activities and using precious hours of free time in the car.

Schools are also adding pressure to a family’s life. Studying increased by almost 50% from 1981-1997. (3)

Family meals, one of the best ways for families and couples to stay connected, have also declined by 33% in the last 30 years. (4)

So, if you’re feeling like there are many factors pulling the two of you apart you’re absolutely right!

And do you know what the most common activity is that couples do? They watch TV. (5)

The most appalling statistic of all, however, is that married American couples spend, on average, just four minutes a day in meaningful conversation. (5)

If any of these facts have inspired you to make changes, I hope that you’ll attend my free teleclass “Parents: Reclaim Your Couple Time” on Sat., Jan. 24, 9 a.m. CT for one hour. We’ll problem-solve to remove some of the barriers getting in the way of couple time and you’ll leave inspired with over 50 fun date ideas to try!

You can register here: http://www.getparentinghelpnow.com/CoupleTime.htm. Without a strong marital foundation the whole family system can fall apart, so register now. If you can’t attend, sign up anyway and I’ll send you an audio recording after the class.


1. “Compatability, Leisure, and Satisfaction in Marital Relationships”, Journal of Marriage and the Family, 64, 433-449, D.W. Crawford, R.M. Houts, T.L. Huston, and L.J. George (2002).

2. “Work Life Balance-An Overview” www.WorkLifeBalanceCentre.org/nickhalpinl.php

3. Findings from national time diary surveys conducted in 1981 and 1997 by the Survey Research Center at the University of Michigan.

4. www.puttingfamilyfirst.org

5. American Demographics.

Author's Bio: 

Visit www.getparentinghelpnow.com to receive the free mini-course “The 7 Worst Mistakes Parents Make (and How to Avoid Them!) and find instant answers to 17 common parenting problems. Toni Schutta is a Parent Coach and Licensed Psychologist with 15 years experience helping families find solutions that work.