If I were to mock up a list of household priorities in a pandemic, honestly, it would go something like this: kids, work, food, sleep, marriage. But it goes without saying, pandemic or not, putting your relationship last never (ever) goes well. Still, what do you do when the two of you are time-strapped to a point that you’re lucky if you can spare 30 minutes together to strategize about potty training, let alone carve out mutual availability to catch up on Mare of Easttown? (Guilty.)
But here’s the rub: A lack of communication that persists—or communication that pertains only to managing life’s logistics (cue that potty training chat)—does not a happy marriage make. That said, there’s still laundry (and taxes, ugh) to do, toddler meals to prep and work that, unfortunately, trickles into the evening hours due to unreliable childcare during this time.
So, I asked my therapist: How could my husband and I find a way to fake a leisurely attitude and come together to say, ‘hi! how are you?!’ once a day when we’re both up against a persistent time deficit? He suggested what’s turned out to be a marriage-saving idea. Enter the half glass of wine.
It stemmed from a conversation about the post-workday rush. Under normal circumstances, the time after the kids go to bed is precious—a moment to come together, catch up and decompress. Right now, it feels more like our chance to recalibrate on the backlog of tasks (work, texts, general life organization) that fell through the cracks during the day.
But scheduling a half glass of wine was my therapist’s compromise—a way to prioritize time together a few nights a week without losing sight of the to-do’s that lie ahead. The half-glass is also what’s most important—it’s the idea that you’ll spend the length of time it takes to finish a half glass of wine (10 to 15 minutes if you savor it) focusing on each other, no logistical chatter allowed. It’s short and sweet, but still has the connotation of relaxing together, perfect for nights when you can’t give anything more. (I see you, Mare of Easttown.)
I was skeptical at first, but we managed to make it a ritual on extra busy nights and it’s been so enlightening and fun. For one thing, we actually take a moment to pause together, ask about each other’s days and more. But the addition of wine to our catchups immediately puts us both at ease. It’s led to brief, yet philosophical convos about post-pandemic life or venting about various work-related stressors. We’ve even improvised by adding a cheese plate. When the half-glass of wine runs out, we return to the things we have to get done. (I don’t know about you, but a half glass also makes all the difference when it comes to fatigue—a full glass and the exhaustion of this year hits me like a ton of bricks.)
Of course, the weekends allow for more time to hang out and connect, but all in all, this solution has provided a fun and quick way to focus on our relationship on otherwise harried weeks. Plus, it’s way more romantic than setting a timer.