This is a question many many men seek an answer to, usually when feeling like they’re not spending much time together with their wife, girlfriend, or significant other.
I recently asked the men over at Mentoring.men this question in the form of a poll and got 34 responses:
Do all men really want to spend thus kind of time with their significant others?
These numbers of course don’t represent the population, just a handful of men, many of whom are feeling lack in their lives and struggling with disconnected and challenged relationships.
But even a quick google search indicates answers in the realm of 2.5 hours per day!
I’ll be honest, after being married for 27 years, my wife and I have had a few laughs at these notions. 2.5 hours a day?! Are you kidding me?!
We love each other deeply and have a passionate, connected, intimate, warm, loving, valuing, fun and enjoyable relationship.
And we do NOT spend 2.5 hours together per day! We are around and in proximity to one another all the time and while we do spend some time together per day, many days, there is no intentional time together. Other days, some and still others where there is an hour here and there.
And yet… we’re thriving.
Many years ago, I felt this way too.
It seemed like my entire life was spent going to work, providing for a wife and family all day, then getting home, eating supper, helping get the kitchen cleaned up and the kids ready for bed, and once the kids went to bed… just when I’d be hoping to spend time together.
My wife would read.
Then she’d fall asleep reading.
Then I’d place her book or kindle on the night stand, turn the light out, and then go stew somewhere else in the house for a little while.
I didn’t like how it made me feel
Resentment built, I’d mope around in anger and frustration. Sometimes I’d tell her. I did so enough that my wife thought I was legitimately “anti reading” because I had so much critique for her reading.
I was really frustrated. Angry. Pissed. I was tried of feeling like a g*dammned ATM machine, Uber driver, security guard, and a host other utilitarian roles.
When was she ever gonna want to spend time together?
Surely healthy and normal couples spend more time together than this, right?!
So I’d double down, try to do more stuff so my wife had less to do thinking “this ought to do it! Now she’ll have time to spend with me!”.
Yeah… that didn’t work. She just appreciated the extra time to read… to go for a run… drive… manicure… pedicure…. WTF?!!!!!
My rage, resentment, and anger continued to grow in spades.
“Can’t you see I have needs too?!”
What is it I really wanted?
Had you asked me back then, I would have said I needed more time, duh! But how much time would have been enough? Was it really time together that I was feeling a lack of?
What if someone told you that the average couple spent 20% of their waking hours together. Now… what if you only got 19.8%? At what point of time together does “the stuff” that makes it appealing and necessary happen? What is it we get from spending time together? How do people who are apart get this?
What I ultimately discovered was that my real need wasn’t for time together, it was just neediness and neediness is a stinky cologne. My “need” was to feel ok. To feel loved. To feel appreciated. To feel connected. To feel close. To feel valued. To feel worthy.
And you know what?
That doesn’t happen in units of seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, and months.
And this too would piss me off! Sometimes, even when we spent lots of time together, I’d still feel this way.
Why isn’t she giving me this stuff?! Sheesh…
Maybe a different woman would?
You can’t get enough of what you don’t really need
What I didn’t realize back then was that all those feelings, whenever I did feel them, were happening inside of me, because of my thinking about my experiences. When I felt loved, it was happening in of me, not to me. Whenever I felt connected, that too was me having an experience of my own thinking in which I experienced feeling connected.
It’s not like my wife had a thought “okay, time to make Sven feel more connected… bring up my connection powers…. here honey, have some connection!”.
No! Not at all! In fact, I’m entirely sure she wanted to feel connected and all that other stuff too! If she had been giving me a feeling of connection, where do you suppose she got that to give me? Where would she go to get the love she’d share with me because I needed it?
And herein is the silliness of such things.
Where do these things really come from?
If what we need is from others, where do they get it? Where do they people they get it from get it from?
See… this mindset makes us believe that love, appreciation, connection, closeness, value, and worthiness are in short supply and scarce. The result is that we feel famished for these as if we’re fortunate to find them now and then.
What I know now and wish I’d known then
What I didn’t know back in those days of feeling desperate for love, value, affirmation, acceptance, worthiness, connection, intimacy, and all that other stuff was this…
No one can really give those things to me therefore, it’s no one else’s responsibility or role to do so.
When I feel that way, it’s not because those things are happening to me in reality, but because I’m experiencing thoughts about my life that result in feeling them.
“You mean… if I feel connected, it’s because I am having thoughts about my life where inside of me, I interpret my experience as being connected?”
Yes! That’s it!
“And when I feel loved, worthy, close…. that’s me experiencing my thinking too?!”
Brother… it turns out, everything a man really needs to feel comes from within himself. Feeling loved comes from a deep understanding that I am already loved. Feeling connected comes from knowing I am connected and a connecting man.
When I feel valued, it’s because I’m living in a story in which I see myself as having value.
In each of these cases, the common denominator is this: we’re living in a moment where the story we’re writing feels the way we want it to.
When we’re not living in that story, no one is doing that to us but self! At all times, we hold the pen that writes this story and because we do, we can write whatever we want, whenever want.
What kind of story are you writing?
Are you living in a story where you’re feeling disconnected, distant, short on time with your wife, or angry that she won’t put her phone down?
If so, I can help you live in a different story. Get in touch for a free session where you’ll begin to see the pain is in your hand.