Unfortunately, in many marriages there is a ‘third’ whether it be an affair (emotional affairs count, too), work, kids, in-laws, alcohol, drugs, electronic devices, hobbies, volunteering, Burning Man, even religion if it takes the majority of your focus. Any of these things, in moderation, are healthy (not including illegal drugs).
In relationship, you need to be each other’s top priority. There is a ‘line’ (vs. a triangle) between you, connecting you emotionally, mentally, physically, and sexually.
Please take time to consider whether there is a ‘third’ in your relationship.
- Maybe you or your partner go to someone else first to share the best and worst of daily life. That’s triangulation.
- Maybe you or your partner spend so much time at work (or work when home), that you focus on the kids since s/he’s not available (or maybe you focused on kids so much that your partner worked longer since s/he doesn’t feel valued and appreciated). Those are ‘thirds’.
- Maybe your in-laws live with you or nearby, and your life revolves around them. That’s a ‘third’ even if your culture has taught you that your elders come first. Find ways to honor that without letting it become a ‘third’.
- If alcohol or drugs are your priority, please seek help with your addiction. It’s a ‘third’. If you can give up what you’re using/drinking for a year, you might not need treatment. Consider why/when you use it; keep a log when you want it. What’s going on in the moment that has you wanting it? Address the underlying issue(s). A drink or two (not four or five), a bit of cannabis (not stoned as often as possible) isn’t a problem. Maybe you use cannabis for pain, anxiety, sleep or migraines. Monitor yourself.
- If you’ve been reading Couple’sNet for long, you already know that I’ve seen devices be divisive. That’s a ‘third’. Try putting them away by 8pm and hang out together (walk, talk, watch a movie, go on a date, etc.)
- If you spend much of your ‘free’ time on your hobby, you’re not spending time together. That’s a ‘third’. I’m not advocating spending all of your time together. Prioritize your time together, then do your own thing.
- As stated above, if your volunteer activities are eating into opportunities for emotionally intimate connection, that’s a ‘third’. (If you don’t have emotionally intimate time together, take action now.)
- If you’re into Burning Man in a way that excludes your partner, it’s a ‘third’.
- I believe in the value of religion and spirituality. However, if it’s your main focus, then your partner isn’t your priority. That’s a third.
- What else goes on this list, knowing your own life?
Remember good times with each other. What were you doing? Relaxing together over a good meal? Listening to music? Hiking or being in nature? Watching movies, going to the theater? Being silly together? Hatching an ‘evil’ plan to make the world better? Do more of whatever made you feel joy together.
If you’re not interested in not having thirds, I suggest couples counseling, pronto!