If you are concerned that you are not spending enough time with your partner, there are practical steps you can take this week. Couples who excel in this area tend to be both intentional and strategic about their shared time together. They are intentional about sitting down each week for at least a few minutes to discuss their schedules. And they are strategic about scheduling activities they enjoy and that lend to conversation.[i]
Consider how this might play out in your own relationship.
- Set time aside every week to go over your schedules.
Pick a time at the beginning of the week to compare schedules. If it is possible, be intentional about meeting at the same time every single week. The more you communicate about what you have on your plate each week, the more likely you will find unscheduled time that can be saved for your relationship.
- Schedule quality activities over a quantity of activities.
Many couples think they have to spend a large quantity of time with their partner each week to maintain their relationship. But, this is actually not the case. In fact, research shows that the quality of a couple’s time together is more important than the quantity of their time together.
One study found that couples who were satisfied with their leisure time together were more satisfied in their marriage than those who reported a greater amount of leisure time together. So, as you schedule time for one another, consider what you like to do. What activities bring you joy when you do them together?
- Schedule activities that allow you to have a conversation.
When you do spend time with your partner, what do you do? If you are like many couples, it is likely that you spend a large amount of your leisure time with your partner in front of a TV.
But activities hold a higher level of quality when they allow you to simultaneously hold a conversation. One study found that couple leisure activity is only related to marital satisfaction when there are high levels of communication during the activity. So, find an activity where you can talk. Instead of watching TV, play a game. Take a walk, go out to dinner, or play miniature golf.
Stay tuned for Part III, where we will discuss how you can build a quality relationship with your partner, even when you are unable to schedule regular leisure time with one another.
[i] Holman, T. B. & Jacquart, M. (1988). Leisure-activity patterns and marital satisfaction: A further test. Journal of Marriage and Family, 50(1), 69-77.