Busted Halo

Most dating and relationships books, columns and shows won’t go near issues of faith. Author, professor and speaker Dr. Christine B. Whelan assumes faith has some role, and tackles even the toughest questions.

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June 1st, 2009

Balancing Act

Nurturing our relationships when we're 'too busy'



For the last six months, I’ve been busier than usual with work. In January and February, I was promoting my new book Marry Smart and some new findings in mate-preferences research just in time for Valentine’s Day. All the while, I was teaching more than 200 students in two classes at the University of Iowa, grading papers, writing lectures and trying to get started on the book manuscript that’s due on July 1.

So I’ll admit it: I’ve been tired and grumpy and not a whole lot of fun for my husband, Peter, to be around. All of the best of me goes into my workday, and Peter gets the exhausted scraps. As we discussed our second wedding anniversary, which is coming up in a few weeks, Peter said he simply wanted a picture of me smiling and looking happy. That was my wake-up call.

The need to keep in touch

A few years back, I wrote a column titled “Too busy for God?” where I confessed that my prayers, meditations and conversations with God were falling by the wayside as I was go-go-going in my career. I spoke with several other young adults who felt the same way.

In that piece, I quoted Fr. Richard Sparks, of the Paulists, who reminded us that faith is a relationship, and relationships are about love and two-way communication: “It’s hard to keep and to deepen a relationship if conversation is sporadic or even non-existent. In one’s faith-hope-love relationship with God, we need to keep in touch regularly — quiet time, prayer time, praise or song time, quality time. If our relationship with God matters, we need to find the time or make the time even when busy to say ‘howdy,’ ‘thanks,’ ‘thinking of you.’ God is doing it in our direction all the time.”

Well, the same thing goes for your relationships with those you love here on earth. Reread Fr. Sparks’ advice through the lens of your marriage, or your relationship with your parents. It’s hard to keep up a healthy bond if you’re not investing time, love and effort into it. Of course there are going to be times when you’re too busy for long, candlelight dinners or lazy mornings of snuggling, but there are many other little ways to show you care.

Of course there are going to be times when you’re too busy for long, candlelight dinners or lazy mornings of snuggling, but there are many other little ways to show you care.

Smiling is a good start. Finding that extra ounce of energy to really listen when you ask how his day was. Telling her that you’re proud of what she’s doing. And saying thank you — a lot — when those you love step up to help you in a busy time of need.

Counting my blessings

“It’s my time to shine,” Peter said, after I came home to find a clean house and folded laundry. And I was so grateful.

So this week, I started writing little notes in Peter’s lunch. That I loved him. That I appreciated all his help around the house. And that I promised to try to be a bit less grumpy and a more loving spouse, even when I’m busy.

I’m very blessed to have a loving husband (and a great extended family — my mother-in-law offered to bring over some dinners that we could freeze and reheat, to allow me to work a bit later and not have to cook each night.) And it’s important to take time to appreciate those relationships even — and especially — when the merry-go-round of life speeds up.

Sound familiar? Struggling with work-life balance yourself? Share some tips for prioritizing your relationships when you’re busy at work or school by posting in the comments section below or email me at puresex@bustedhalo.com.

The Author : Christine B. Whelan
Dr. Christine B. Whelan is an author, professor and speaker. She and her husband, Peter, and their dictator cats, Chairman Meow and Evita Purron, live in Pittsburgh. Her book "Why Smart Men Marry Smart Women" is available in stores or at the Halo Store.
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  • VK

    Thank you! I have been busy the last 2 weeks preparing a big talk/presentation and have forgotten the people surrounding me; One day can make a lot of difference for them, my 81 y/o Mom especially. I have learned to be more gentle with my relationships esp. with those whom I play an significant role in. God Bless you!

  • Rebecca

    Thank you Christine! This is such a wonderful article that touched me personally. It feels like it spoke directly to me!

  • DLH

    I really can sympathize with this article! I had the busiest semester ever and rarely saw my roommates (who are my best friends) let alone have meaningful conversations with them. We were all feeling a bit lonely and unloved by our closest friends. So we made time to call each other on our lunch breaks, and at least say “hi”, smile and pause for a minute when we do pass each other in our comings and goings. We leave each other little notes around the apartment and leave candies and things we know the others will enjoy. And whenever we find the rare occasion to sit and talk – we take full advantage of it!

  • Mary K

    This sounds a lot like the 5 Love Languages book by Gary Chapman. Great book. I accidentally bought the abridged version first, and so then I bought the regular version. The good thing was that I was able to get my hubby to agree to read the abridged version. It basically tells you that some people need to hear “I love you” in different ways. For me, it means a lot when my hubby does stuff for me (like cleaning the house). For him, he needs affirming words “thanks” “good job” “I appreciate you” etc.

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