I like to call the practical part of myself “Practical Joe.” PJ for short. In many ways, PJ is awesome. He makes sure I don’t impulsively buy that hot pink T-shirt with the banana on it I find so hilarious. He makes sure I save for retirement. He makes sure my T pass is set to autofill.
But PJ also tells me that my husband and I shouldn’t buy gifts for each other, because it’s all the same money anyway. He tells me that date nights are kind of a waste of money, because I don’t need to spend $15 for a cocktail. He tells me it makes more sense for us to walk the dog separately, which is more efficient. PJ is cramping my marriage style.
We all have a tiny PJ in our mind, telling us all the things we shouldn’t be doing, because our goal should be for everything to make sense and to be efficient — especially with kids. But don’t let PJ fool you. PJ, like everything else, is only helpful in moderation. This is particularly true when we think about our significant other.
Often couples get so wrapped up in playing zone defense at home or passing the kids off to get to work, they forget about each other — and themselves. All relationships need continual attention, and without it, we suffer. Humans crave intimate relationships on a biological level, and when we are lacking in these kinds of interactions, we behave in ways that “aren’t like us,” we get anxious, we get sad, and we feel an overall sense of disappointment. We begin to view our spouse as purely a mechanism to complete tasks, and we can forget that they are indeed a person. We begin to resent them, because we feel so distant and detached. We start to wonder about our relationship and if we made a mistake. Our eyes can wander. We get frustrated and upset.
To steer clear of these kinds of issues, we must pay attention to our spouse. Even though it takes work, planning, effort, and money, being mindful of and attentive to your relationship with your partner is paramount. Smaller gestures, like picking up their favorite bagels or making breakfast in bed, are just as meaningful. Being thoughtful about how you can help foster your romantic life, even if just every so often and in small ways, will vastly improve your mood and overall life satisfaction. So go ahead, buy two cocktails. You’ll be glad you did.