My husband works all the time. It really feels as if we spend no time together. I understand that in order for me not to work he has to work harder and longer hours. This was a decision we both made, but I feel so lonely. Is there anything that we can do?


Dear Lonely,

There are two points that I would like to share with you. Firstly, it is imperative that you show your husband how much you appreciate how hard he is working for the family. He needs to feel that his efforts are appreciated. When we are engrossed in our own negative thinking, we tend not to see any of the positive that is actually happening. The changes in the relationship will only happen when you are both working towards a positive outcome and not just running away from a negative one. This sincere praise will allow your husband to "hear" point number two without feeling criticized and he will be open to making changes.

Secondly, it does not necessarily take a long time to feel connected to each other. Before you begin changing your schedules, evaluate how much time you really do have together now. Are you using this time to bond and connect? Do you share intimate connections on a daily basis? Do you feel close to each other everyday?

Your marriage has to be your number one priority. Everything else has to flow outward from this inner relationship chamber. We forget that if your marriage is suffering, then you tend to carry that into every other facet of you life: parenting, work, community service and fun. Our busy lives and the urgent appeals on our time push our marriage maintenance further and further down our priority list. We can ignore our spouse's emotional needs for days or sometimes even weeks.

A practical tool for combating this mistake is to schedule your marriage first. On your weekly schedule, make sure that your time together is penciled in at the beginning of the week and then you build the rest of your schedule around these times. These must be the most important appointments of your week. Nothing short of a crisis should interfere with these entries.

Once you have had a few weeks of connecting with the time you already have, begin adding a few more calendar entries. Always praise your husband for his efforts and you will begin to feel much more connected to him in a short period of time. This strategy has been very successful for many, many couples in your situation.