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By Chandrama Anderson

Marriage Interview 7: He Works 24 Hours a Day

Uploaded: May 4, 2015

Lui and Leon met at work in 2004 and began dating a month later. They married three months after that, and have been married for 10 years.

Lui says that Leon works 24 hours a day and she is lonely. I'm not sure how many hours he actually works, but I am sure she is lonely.

Lui tries to put herself into his shoes, and understand all the reasons for this, and they resolve it by forgiving each other (I realize this is an incomplete answer: What are they forgiving? How? Who is forgiving whom for what? Does Lui get some of what she needs from Leon, and some from her community of friends and family, work, kids?).

Working "all the time" is a hot topic in couple's therapy these days; long days, followed by work at home at night, international teams, plus travel. This often leads to couples feeling (and I would venture to agree) disconnected and resentful. This may be the start of a small trajectory in differing directions that over time can grow to problematic proportions (think of steering a huge ship and when a turn needs to be initiated).

Part of what we explore in couple's counseling is whether this much work is actually needed (fear of job loss, loss of productivity after 10 hours of work has been shown in a great deal of research, etc.) and if there are other reasons such as fear of intimacy (closeness, not sex), addiction to the speed of life and devices (which are incredible tools and also addictive), problems at home, underlying resentments, sleeping arrangements (whether the couple goes to bed at the same time a few nights a week, sex, kids in the couple's bed, etc.) and more.

One idea a couple shared with me is to take a sick or vacation day once a quarter and go spend the day together doing something that you love; maybe something you used to do when you were dating. Leave the kids at school, go off together, and enjoy one another.

As I've mentioned on Couple's Net before, Dr. John Gottman's prescription for busy couples is The 5 Magic Hours: Two minutes in the morning to hug and kiss and make eye contact, 20 minutes in the evening to talk and listen (10 minutes each person), and a two hour date every week.

Lui's Tips for other couples:

1. Respect each other in the first place.
2. Forgive each other.
3. When arguing, don't bring up everything, especially old topics.
4. Never cross the line, no matter how angry you are. [The line: Screaming. Raging. Physical blows or throwing things.

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