How quality family time is crucial for all couples, celebrities or not

  • Susan Jose, Hindustan Times
  • Updated: Mar 26, 2015 15:48 IST

Recently, supermodel Gisele Bündchen announced that she will quit the catwalk in April to spend time with her family. A few days later, actor Bradley Cooper reportedly split with his girlfriend of two years, model Suki Waterhouse, as his hectic schedule did not allow him to spend much time with her. The latter is the latest of many cases where celebrities’ relationships have ended, owing to the time factor.

Evidently, despite all relationships being different, devoting quality time to one another is crucial for all couples.

Staying apart
Anika Vichare, a 26-year-old ad agency executive, broke up with her boyfriend of two years because spending less time together had led to gradual cracks in their relationship. “When we started seeing each other, we would do almost anything to spend time together. However, things changed with time. If we wanted to watch a movie, we’d end up cancelling plans four times before finding a time slot that worked for both of us. I live in Dombivli and he lives in Khar, so it was getting difficult to meet after travelling from home to work for two hours,” she says.

Left: Gisele Bündchen with husband Tom Brady and their son Benjamin and daughter Vivian; Right: Bradley Cooper with his alleged former girlfriend model Suki Waterhouse

As a result, the couple wouldn’t see each other for almost 20 days sometimes, despite living in the same city. “I was feeling frustrated as he was spending less time with me. Plus, I was going through a bad phase andhe wouldn’t spend time with me, I thought he was deliberately ignoring me,” adds Vichare.

Making it work
On the other hand, Adriel McKenny, a 22-year-old from Mumbai, has successfully managed a long distance relationship for over a year. Her boyfriend, Charles Finney, 27, lives in Chennai, and she ends up meeting him once in three months, on an average. Sometimes, it’s for as short a duration as three days.

“When we meet, we try to make the most of our time together. Sometimes, we plan our day from 10 am to 8 pm so that we don’t miss out on a single minute. And when we are apart, we try to stay as updated about each other’s lives as possible through social media or on the phone. We make a conscious effort to communicate,” says McKenny.

Riddhish K Maru, psychiatrist, sexologist and counsellor based in Mulund and Thane says, “Time is very important in a relationship. These days, I’m getting lots of patients who have misunderstandings. They don’t know what’s going on with their partner as they hardly spend time together.” Maru shares a list of signs that may point towards a troubled relationship due to lack of time, and how such situations can be mended.

However, it’s not all rosy. McKenny says that little things such as one not calling the other back when they said they would, or not reverting to messages can blow up into big issues. She adds, “These things may not have happened if we spent more time together. Our schedules are hectic, and sometimes we end up speaking on the phone for so long that our routine suffers. But that’s how we compensate for not spending time together.”

Making sacrifices
In most cases, it’s the women who end up sacrificing their career to prioritise family. Ajitha Anand, 41, who started working as a research analyst and then worked in public relations for eight years, gave up her fulfilling career after she gave birth to her son. “To be honest, I never gave my career a second thought to. My focus was on enjoying watching my son grow up,” she admits.

According to Anand, culturally, quitting jobs for family is acceptable for women in India. She says, “I feel there are two reasons –– emotional and economical. Emotionally, the mother is more attached to the child. Plus, economically, the percentage of women who are at the top of the pyramid and earn just as much as the men is negligible compared to men.” Women may be more likely to make such sacrifices, but some men are defying stereotypes and conventions. Writer Chetan Bhagat is a stay-at-home dad. Even actor Imran Khan took a break from movies to spend time with his newborn daughter Imara Malik Khan last year.

Jayesh Ved, 36, who works at the suburban branch of a bank, turned down a promotion since it required him to work out of an office that was further away. “My wife had just given birth to our daughter, and I wanted to spend every minute away from work with my child. If I took up that offer, a major portion of my time would be spent in travelling. I knew I’d be too tired to play with my daughter after the tiring commute. After a lot of thinking, my wife and I decided that we would work around a strict financial budget and not take up the promotion,” he reasons.

* Couples should plan date nights or weekends alone.
* Couples should spend a minimum of 20 minutes together daily.
* Talk; make silence unacceptable.
* Hug, kiss and hold hands in public (some PDA is healthy).
* Couples and families should be like friends and chat freely.
* Families should have at least one meal together.
* Make Sunday a family day by going for picnics or playing a sport.
* Speak up and ask for help; don’t hesitate.
* Counselling, therapy and professional guidance.
Warning signs
* Irritability
* Lack of concentration
* Sleep and appetite irregularity
* Lots of arguments, including unsolved ones
* Blame games
* Physical fights
* Alcohol and drug intake
* Reduced sexual intimacy
* Affairs outside committed relationships

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