Adventures in Dating

Meet Jack and Sarah, a real-life couple with a real-life dating dilemma.
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You know it and we know it: There's no such thing as a perfect relationship. Every couple has a few issues they need to work through. Meet Jack and Sarah, a real-life couple with a real-life dating dilemma. We'll offer some advice to help them build a better relationship.

Jack Says:
She's Always Busy!
Sarah is involved in a million things: choir, church, leadership councils, and, of course, school. Sometimes it seems like she doesn't have any time left for me.

Even when Sarah and I are together, other things are always coming up. One day when we were eating dinner, she suddenly remembered she had to call someone and jumped up from the table. I didn't see her again for 15 minutes. Other times, when she doesn't physically leave, I can tell her mind is somewhere else. I'll ask, "How was your day?" and she'll say, "Fine," but I can tell from the tone of her voice that she's not really paying attention to me.

It's not like I want Sarah to drop everything else in her life. But when I see how much time other couples spend together, it kind of makes me feel left out. I want to ask Sarah, "Why can't you just stop for a while and hang out with me?"

Sarah Says:
He's Never Available!
I admit that I'm busy. But it's not like I have no free time at all. And when I'm free, I totally want to spend time with Jack—which would be a lot easier if he was ever available when I called.

Jack's not involved in as many activities as I am, but he studies a lot more than I do. It's not unusual for him to study five hours for an exam, on top of the rest of his homework. Grades are really important to him, and I'm fine with that. What frustrates me is that his study time is always the same as my free time.

I don't have much control over when I'm busy. When the choir's practicing, I have to be there. I don't get to choose when stuff like that happens. Jack does get to choose when he studies, and he usually chooses to do it after he's spent a few hours relaxing with his buds. So he's got time for them—where's the time for me?

Elesha's Advice:
This doesn't sound like a busyness problem so much as a scheduling problem. Jack and Sarah both have free time to spend together. They just have to work it out so they'll have free time at the same time. And they need to make some minor adjustments in how they relate to each other.

Since Sarah's days are full of scheduled events like meetings and practices, she knows ahead of time when she'll be available to hang out. But she can't expect Jack to memorize her Day-Timer; she needs to let him know where she's going to be and when. She could make it a point to touch base with him every few days to let him know what's coming up. Or she could even give him a copy of her standard weekly schedule so he'd be able to plan as far ahead as she does.

Sarah's mind-wandering habit might be tougher to change. Busy people like Sarah can get so intense that "little" things like conversation get shoved aside. But when Sarah's with Jack, she needs to focus on Jack, not on the five items she still hasn't checked off her to-do list. If she absolutely has to interrupt their time together, she needs to consider his feelings and make sure he knows he's important, too.

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