In today’s hectic world, it can be extremely difficult to find time to connect with your partner. Between jobs, kids, socializing, housework, exercise, and the few hours you get to rest, it can feel like you and your partner grow increasingly distant by the day. This can be the case even if you still love each other deeply, and even if you schedule semi-regular date nights.
In my new book, 52 Emails to Transform Your Marriage, I help couples who are struggling to rekindle their emotional connection. Instead of conversations, which can have the potential to go awry, feel awkward, or deteriorate into arguments, I prompt couples to write thoughtful emails to one another on a variety of deeper-level topics. However, there are many ways to use your computer to grow closer with your partner, aside from using the email prompts discussed in my book. None of these ideas require anything but a computer or smartphone and an internet connection, so even the most time-strapped person can likely do some of them. Pick a few to try with your partner this week:
- Google Calendar
With a joint Google calendar, or other online calendar, you can plan activities and schedule them without nagging your partner. Both of you get reminders before events, and if either of you schedules something fun, it is a nice surprise for the other one. You can also leave little notes in the calendar for each other to mix it up.
- Secret Pinterest Board
If you can get your husband to download the Pinterest app, it can be very fun for couples to pin images and articles about future vacations, houses they like, pets they want one day, or anything else of interest. Make sure to choose “secret” so that your friends don’t see your future top-secret plans to retire to Argentina when your kids are grown up!
Some sites like someecards.com, have cards for every occasion that are guaranteed to make your partner smile. This is a thoughtful way to give your partner a laugh and show that you’re thinking about them during the day. There are other sites as well that are more sincere and serious, if that is the mood you’re in.
- Amazon Wish Lists
Although most couples can’t afford to buy everything off their Amazon wish lists, it can be very useful to keep a running list of things that you want, need, and just think are cute or funny. That way, if your partner wants to surprise you with a little gift, he can choose something off your list. This is very helpful for people who are terrible gift givers, despite their efforts to be otherwise.
Everyone knows that teenage kids love Snapchat, but even their parents might find something intriguing about this app, if it’s used primarily for connecting with your partner. While not everyone thinks it’s funny to put a filter on your video that makes you look like a talking cat, there are some couples that can bond over connecting in this less-serious way.
- GPS Apps
Some couples like to be alerted when one or the other leaves work, which can minimize the need for a phone call right as a partner is trying to hurry up and leave work on time. If you know when your partner is en route, it can cut down on stress and allow you to plan dinner or other evening activities.
- Read the Same Books
If you and your partner read the same Kindle books, or, even better, download the same audiobooks (which allows both of you to “read” at the same pace), this can yield many interesting discussions. Rather than just small talk, talking about books allows you and your partner to connect on an intellectual level and remember how insightful you find one another.
- Watch the Same Shows
Even if you have different schedules, if you and your partner pick one show or series to really get invested in, then you can talk about the show when you’re next together. There are so many wonderful series on Hulu, Amazon Prime, and Netflix that every couple is likely able to find something that satisfies both of their tastes and interests. TV can be disconnecting if you just sit and watch it without conversation, but if you use it as a springboard for conversations, it can make you feel close and connected.
- Skype Calls from Work
Although many people think about Skype and FaceTime as apps to use with far-flung friends and relatives, this can also make couples feel closer during the workday. Texting is expedient, but connecting face-to-face during the workday, even for a moment, can allow you to feel more connected.
- Video-Chat Couples Counseling
For couples that are feeling more disconnected and even resentful or angry, couples counseling is a great way to address issues and reconnect. Unfortunately, with couples’ often-busy schedules, it can be very hard to make the time to commute to a counselor’s office, have a session, and commute home. Not to mention that childcare is required. If you need a couples’ counselor, be sure to ask if they offer counseling via video-chat. I use this in my practice with many couples who put their kids to sleep and then have a session at night, and it is invaluable in helping them prioritize couples therapy.