The Saturday Night Marriage:

How to balance love and life in a 
time starved world.

By Julienne B. Derichs LCPC

Many couples in America spend less than an hour a day together on shared activities, with a large slice of that time spent on watching TV. During an average week you have only moments, not hours, to spend feeling like a couple—getting connected, having fun together, feeling intimate. Most couples are like ships that pass in the night...and if you have children, time together becomes even scarcer. This is how the Saturday Night Marriage gets started.

In many relationships whomever is busiest or most worn out guides how much time the two of you have together. If your partner only has a few minutes a day for the relationship, that’s all the time the relationship gets. Often the thinking is “We’ll have time for each other on the weekend.” The weekend comes and you are still tired and the thinking is “We’ll go out tonight and catch up on the week.”  Saturday night comes you go out for a quick diner then spend the next two hours or so in the dark watching a movie. In the Saturday Night marriage you and your partner sleep under the same roof nearly every night but you hardly ever have enough time for each other except on Saturday night. This is how love and life become out of balance.

7 Signs of Saturday Night Marriage

1. You have stopped talking and sharing your daily events and happenings. You wait until Saturday night to talk...but the opportunity never arises

2. You say, “no...I can’t do it...I just don’t have the time...maybe later,” to your partner much more often than “yes.” “Yes” is something you save for others.

3. You are not interested in listening to your partner and feel mostly frustration, depression and resentment about your relationship. 

4. You make little time for your partner and rarely think about how you can improve the relationship. 

5. You meet separately to attend the same functions instead of taking an extra few minutes to ride together as a couple.

6. You grab dinner on the run or eat in front of the television where staying connected is nearly impossible.

7. You don’t put your partner on your schedule during the week or on the weekend during the day.

Creating a Love and Life Balance

Balance is a process not a destination. You can learn to protect your relationship from the effects of the time crunch by creating a better balance between love and life. If you want to create balance in your life, it is important to know how you define personal success. 

The following list is a place to start. Cross off those that don’t seem important to you and add your own. Next, identify which of the items on your list are the most essential to your success definition and which items present the greatest challenge to you.

  • Being able to move on when a situation is no longer productive or positive
  • Being satisfied with your work situation
  • Enjoying the present, not putting off the good things until some time in the future
  • Expressing your creativity
  • Fulfilling your potential
  • Holding yourself with esteem separately from your work
  • Being genuine
  • Identifying your values and basing your choices on them
  • Being satisfied with your love relationship
  • Managing your money well
  • Keeping envy in check
  • Paying attention to your spiritual life
  • Spending time in fun ways away from your workplace
  • Spending time with people you cherish and enjoy
  • Taking good care of yourself
  • Understanding when to fight for something and when to give in

What would you add? Which items present the greatest challenge to you?

In a time starved will 
have to say “no” to someone or 
something order to make
 time for your relationship and 
say “yes” to your partner.

Seven Ways to Say “Yes” to Your Spouse

#1 – Give each other pleasure: Ask yourself,  “Is what I'm about to do or say going to cause my partner pain or pleasure?”

#2 – Create love and friendship practices: Put your relationship back in the spotlight by making time, just for the two of you, everyday.

#3 – Create a safe place for open and sincere sharing: Build a sense of safety and acceptance that allows each of you to express your feelings, problems, expectations and disappointments. 

#4 – Work together to unravel conflict and crisis: Before you engage in talk of solutions, check in with your partner to ensure that they have been fully heard. 

#5 – Turn toward each other, rather than away: Make sure to find ways to be physically and emotionally close to each other, everyday.

#6 – Schedule time for lovemaking: Doesn't sound very romantic, but it works. 

#7 – Create purpose in your relationship: You will enrich your relationship by sharing meaningful experiences with each other.
Besides having fun, what else would you like to do together in the next 20 years? 

Work and Life Imbalance

Times are tough right now and most people are willing to do more at work just to maintain the status quo. Yet, what if a person needs more than just self-help in dealing with a lack of balance in work and family life? How do you know if you are a draining all of your energy into work? Here are some important questions to ask yourself: 

1. Are you more comfortable talking about work than anything else?

2. Do you become impatient with people who do things besides work?

3. Do you get irritated when people ask you to stop working and do something else?

4. Do you get more energized about your work than about anything else, including your personal relationships?

5. Do you often worry about the future, even when work is going well?

6. Do you take on extra work because you are concerned that it will not otherwise get done?

7. Do you take work home with you? Do you work on days off? Do you work while you are on vacation?

8. Do you think about your work while driving, falling asleep, or when others are talking?

9. Do you think that if you don’t work hard you will lose your job or be considered a failure?

10. Have your long hours hurt your family or other relationships?

If you answered “Yes” to more than three questions, your work life is running the risk of taking over your entire life and damaging your love relationship beyond repair.

How Much Time Do You Really Spend With Your Spouse?

Try this simple exercise:

Draw a large circle on a blank piece of paper. Imagine the circle is a pie and the size of slices of the pie represent how much time you spend in an average week attending to the different areas of your life. Would work take ¾ of the pie? Would your relationship get just a sliver? Ask your spouse to do the same exercise and share your results. Then create your ideal pie.

The Antidote to the Time Starved Marriage: The Magic Five Hours a Week

The real marriage experts, that is, couples who have been together for 10, 20, or 30 years or more, say the key to a healthy relationship is in the maintenance. John Gottman, a marriage researcher suggests that couples who live by the magic five hours per week have more successful relationships. Here is a good guideline:

Partings: Don’t part in the morning without knowing one interesting thing that will happen in your spouse’s day. 2 minutes a day x 5 working days. Total: 10 minutes.

Reunions:  Each takes 10 minutes to talk about your day. Partner does active listening. This is the proper place for it. Give support. Rule: understanding must precede advice. 20 minutes a day x 5 days. Total: 1hr 40 minutes.

Admiration and Appreciation: Find some way everyday to genuinely communicate affection and appreciation toward your spouse. 5 minutes a day x 7 days. Total: 35 minutes.

Affection: Kiss, hold grab, touch each other. Play is good. Make sure to kiss each other before going to sleep and “Do not let the sun set on your wrath.” 5 minutes x 7 days. Total: 35 minutes.

Love Maps: Update your love maps. Turn toward one another. Have a marital date. Think of great questions to ask your spouse. These dates can sometimes be about resolving marital issues.
2 hours once a week. Total: 2 Hours

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Couples Counseling Today
Contact Julienne Derichs 
Call 773-562-3074 or 
email me at
Contact Julienne Derichs 
Call 773-562-3074 or 
email me at