Love, Love In Lines, Relationships

[Love In Lines] When You Don’t Have Time For Love – Tan Lili

We’ve all heard of couples complaining about neglect, the lack of spending quality time together, etc. But founder Lili reckons it’s important to take a step back in order to move forward.

One of my friends, who’s dating a flight attendant, is unapologetically possessive of her boyfriend’s free time. She gets offended whenever he chooses to spend a Saturday night with his friends; to her, it’s akin to him saying she isn’t worthy of his time.

As warped as her logic may sound, I get her. Because, as the longtime girlfriend of someone who does shift work, I can tell you this: it SUCKS. Weekends of cuddling at my place are now a thing of the past. Dinner dates on weekdays are also few and far between (his shift usually starts in the late afternoon and ends late at night – or very early in the morning). One weekend rolls into another, as does the bitter taste of resentment. Surely if he loves me enough, he’d make an effort to spend as much time with me as possible, no?

I know it’s irrational of me to blame him; it’s his way of making a living, after all. But when you are constantly bombarded with pictures of loved-up friends as well as relationship articles that preach the importance of quality time, reason flies out of the window pretty easily.

Then I think of all the times he’s had to put up with my horrible work schedule. Once, he booked a 9pm movie for us near my former workplace but ended up watching it by himself because I was still trying to close a magazine – and he was so sweet and understanding about it when we met up after the movie. There have also been so many times when I wasn’t able to meet him on his rest/off days because of work-related events. Not to mention the occasional press trips, which means I wouldn’t be able to meet him for however long I’d be away. And sometimes, I’d feel so mentally and physically drained after a particularly stressful week, I just wish to be alone for a while to regroup and recharge.

I hate double standards; the realisation that I’m practicing them myself leaves me at once ashamed and grateful – ashamed for my petty misgivings, and grateful for my boyfriend’s unflagging understanding. Retrospection can be a very powerful tool to yank your feet back to the ground.

I’m still trying to get used to his irregular working hours, but I consider myself very lucky; as a boss, I have the flexibility of time and can meet him as long as nothing urgent crops up. If you are also dating someone who does shift work, I hope you will be able to take away something from my tips below!

Home Sweet Home

My boyfriend and I may not be able to hang out every weekend, but I find myself looking forward to it in spite of that because, one word: Family. My sister, brother-in-law and my two nephews come over every Sunday. For a solid few hours, I’ll park myself in my parents’ room (that’s where everyone congregates before and after dinner) and simply chill out with my family. I’ve also developed a pretty tight bond with my sister’s elder son because I’m rarely absent from home on Sundays. To be in the company of the people I love – what else can compare?

Catch Up With Friends

Now that my weekends are freed up, I’m able to catch up with my friends in the early part of the day before spending time with my family. Just a couple of Sundays ago, I met up with one of my best friends at a heartland mall at noon to watch The Fault In Our Stars, followed by a waffle pig-out session at Gelare after. The last time I did something like that was when I was still studying so, in a strange sense, that outing made me feel young all over again! Well, I’m not going to contest that, for sure.

Practice Self-Love

No, I’m not talking about that kind of self-love (which is a perfectly healthy expression of female sexuality, by the way). It’s so important to carve out time for yourself and use that little pocket of solitude to cultivate personal growth. I recently started to learn the piano, and I love every minute of playing it – it’s my very own creative outlet and I always feel a sense of accomplishment for being able to learn it all by myself. Likewise, my boyfriend enjoys running, and I completely respect his need to do that during his free time.

At the end of the day, it’s about learning to compromise. It will always be a challenge, but I guess that’s what relationships are about – they are a constant work-in-progress. If it was all sunshine and rainbows with frequent glitter showers, how are we ever going to grow up and truly, fully, experience real love?

Love In Lines is a special under the Relationship section of Material World. The four founders each takes a week in a month to talk about dealing with love from different perspectives. Founder Tan Lili talks about building long-term relationships and the highs and lows of being in one. Stay tuned for more!

About The Author: A founder of Material World, Tan Lili has previously worked in magazines The Singapore Women’s Weekly and Cosmopolitan Singapore, as well as herworld.com (now herworldplus.com, the online counterpart of Her World). She is now a freelance writer who works on this website full-time. Lili hopes to travel the world, work with wild animals, and discover more awesome Twilight fan-fiction. Follow her on Twitter @TanLiliTweets.

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