We never hang out. Here’s our solution.

Let me start this by saying that I love that Oliver’s in grad school. One of the reasons we originally connected was our desire to see the other succeed. Grad school was always a goal of his, and I want him to succeed. So why would I let anything stand in the way of that?

In my head, it was a good theory: Do whatever I can to help Oliver reach his goal. But I didn’t really think about how that was going to affect our overall relationship. I figured if he was happy, I was happy (can “happy husband, happy life” be a thing instead?), so what else would I need?

Since Oliver wasn’t working a job outside of school last year, this theory worked well for us. He had more free time to get his school work done, so during the weekends, we had time to hang out with each other. But this year he picked up an internship, and as a result, we never see each other. My theory “happy husband, happy life” was going down the tubes, and I could feel it. I missed him, and honestly never had the time to just tell him that. You’d think that living in a one-room apartment that something like that would come out, right? Wrong.

So, in my typical Kiersten fashion, I decided to have a massive freak out about the whole thing. And after hours (okay maybe days) of being an absolute bear, we finally sat down to discuss the problem at hand: When we’re busy, we don’t see each other as a priority. And that had to change—fast.

Can we all be real for a second? I think that’s a huge issue with marriages in general. Oliver and I just got too comfortable and put other things as a priority over each other. I knew I was missing him and wasn’t getting the attention I wanted. But I didn’t want to voice it because I was putting his schoolwork as a priority over myself. I know that’s crazy, but when you love someone that much, you do some pretty strange things.

When couples don’t invest in each other, things will drastically change—and for the worse. Thankfully we saw an issue early on, and fixed it immediately.

Now although Oliver would have loved to have our dates happen naturally, after months of not really going on a date I knew we needed some hard “deadlines.” I am a deadline type person (it’s like I’m a journalist or something) and knew that having a set number or deadline for each month would help us to make dates actually happen.

Our solution is to have one date night a month, and two coffee dates a month.

After a few months of living in Brooklyn, we let coffee dates slip away from us. They were a weekly tradition for us in Chicago and our favorite time of the week. Yet now we are living in the same place and drinking coffee from the same pot every morning anyway, so what’s the point?

But coffee dates are different than just sitting on our couch. On a coffee date, we have no technology distracting us. We sit across from each other at a table and actually connect. Since we are now having two of these a month, having an actual date night will only happen once a month. This gives us the freedom to spend a bit more than usual, which isn’t hard in New York City.

Maybe you think putting a number on it will take the romance out of it, which I guess is kind of true. It does seem a bit forceful. But for us and our current living situation, putting a number on it also gives us some accountability to actually connect with each other. And it helps for those times during the week when we don’t connect. If we have a busy week and don’t have time to connect, that’s okay! I know we have a set time to do so later.

Every relationship is different, and maybe this won’t work for yours. But here’s the big lesson that I think everyone can learn from this: Nothing gets solved unless you communicate about it. So if you’re having some type of issue with your significant other, sit them down and just tell them. Don’t wait for them to just “figure it out.” Be honest, and make a solution for yourselves. It will make the two of you a stronger unit in the end.

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