This is an aspect of relationship that Dr. Emerson Eggerichs discusses in the book, Love and Respect. Here is some insight on the shouldering concept from the book:
"A. A husband wanting shoulder to shoulder friendship: "I respect your desire for a shoulder to shoulder friendship. I hope you trust me when I say this. So when I cannot break away from the kids to be with you while you (work in the shop, fish, watch football, etc), I hope you know I want to be with you. For example, I cannot watch the Sweet Sixteen Basketball Tournament tomorrow but what about the Final Four next week?” (Note: A wife needs to clarify with her husband that she is not neglecting his need for her to be with him as a companion. Further, she needs to make a good faith effort to do things with him shoulder to shoulder because it energizes him. Though some of this feels like a waste of time to her,
she needs to trust this touches the spirit of her husband.)
B. A husband who doesn't want a wife's shoulder to shoulder companionship: "I respect your desire for a best friend. I say this because I believe I have hurt you in the past by not being friendly and not accompanying you in activities important to you. I hope you can forgive me and give me another chance to simply be with you when you do some of these activities." (Note: A husband does not always want his wife to be with him. However, if he no longer expresses that desire, he is probably wounded and has given up on her being his friend. He sees her as a
mother to the children and caregiver to him but no longer a friend. He has concluded she does not like him, and he has lost energy in the marriage. Doing shoulder to shoulder activities can revive the marriage.)"
How do you make “shouldering” a reality in your relationship?
1. Being aware that it is a desire is the first step. Talk about this aspect of relationship that probably never has been considered. Use this article as a platform for discussing. Is this really a desire of yours? Does this happen at home? What would this look like in our relationship?
2. Intentionally create opportunities to “shoulder” your mate. Make sure the kids are in bed so you can have some time together as a couple. This may start out as an actual plan but hopefully will turn into a great habit. Create “our time” aside from “family time”. Don’t be ashamed about it. Let the kids know you desire “husband and wife time”. Make it happen… Yes, it does take some work on both parties.
3. Make sure you are still dating! Parents have to work at dating. Both of you be creative and take leadership. Plan the date all the way down to child care and then implement it. Have fun!
4. Create a standing date. It is good that everyone knows your “date day” and where you go consistently. They have a tendency to leave you alone while you are on your date.
5. Share your calendar on a family app. Mark your calendar with big X’s and do not negotiate these times. You have to make time for each other. No one else will do this for you.
6. It is good for your kids to see that the most important relationship in the house is the husband and wife. It is the one relationship that is still going to be in the house when the kids are long gone! When this relationship gets out of balance, it rocks the whole ship. If you put the kids at the top of the list even temporarily you are asking for trouble.
7. If you realize none or some of this is not occurring, be the one to take initiative to implement these simple ideas.
I am for you on this journey!