The term “quality time” in couples counseling is a commonly used phrase in the context of a close relationship, but most notably romantic relationships. This phrase sometimes has feelings attached to it that could be positive or negative and can often be misunderstood and cause conflicts in your relationship. In actuality, having quality time with your partner is designed to bring you both closer together. This article will outline what “quality time” is and the different forms it can take in bringing you and your loved one to a closer level of connection.
What quality time is not
Let us start with what quality time is NOT. Hanging out with your partner in the same room watching TV together is not quality time. Having dinner at the same table, but not talking or looking at each other is not quality time. Lastly, quality time is also not lying in bed together (naked or not) while each of you are on separate cell phones checking emails and texting others. Sound familiar? The most important aspect of quality time, which makes it “quality” is being together with your undivided attention on each other. The good news is this definition of quality time allows for a lot of flexible ways to make this happen and can help you feel much closer to each other as a result.
Different forms of quality time
Spending quality time with your partner can take on many different forms depending on the wants and needs of each partner. In his book The 5 Love Languages, author Gary Chapman lists quality time as one of the five ways that some people feel loved by the other. He makes the point that a couple who is together could have different styles or ways that they feel loved emotionally by the other person and that each partner in the couple do not need to have the same “love language” in order to feel loved by the other. If your partner wants to spend more quality time with you, this could be an indicator that quality time is their love language. Below are some examples that exemplify ways couples can spend more quality time together:
· Concentrated conversations. Find a time and place when you and your partner can talk. This conversation can take the form of discussing more meaningful topics that includes an exchange of emotional experiences related to it and not just content-laden stories. For example, you can each discuss what it means to you to be together or reflect on a past event that you had earlier in the day or with your family that each of you can relate to. This is not the time to talk about others in a form of gossip, complain to the other about something that has gotten on your nerves about them, or to give unsolicited advice without volunteering your own emotional responses to the subject being discussed. Rather it is time for each of you to truly listen to the other via maintaining eye contact and not having other external distractions such as holding phones or having the TV on in the background. It is also a time to not interrupt each other and create space for each of you to share your thoughts and feelings. The two of you can then take turns validating your partner’s experience.
· Shared activities. The important thing to note here is that the shared activity itself is not what makes this quality time, but the potential interpersonal connection that comes out of it that does. Often, finding a mutually enjoyable activity to do together can be a challenge, but if you change your mindset to thinking about the activity as important to your partner, all you have to be is “willing” to do it. For example, if you find going to a museum boring, but your mate really enjoys it, look at going to the museum as a form of showing your love for your partner. In return, your partner may be more willing to accompany you to an event that is not their preference either. The goal in both situations is about spending quality time with your partner and not necessarily to be fully entertained.
· Become more open about yourself. Regardless of putting aside time for specific conversation or shared activities, it helps to be more open about your daily life experiences so your partner can feel part of it. Sometimes people believe they have nothing of value to share with their loved one, but if you make an effort to put a voice to things you have thought about (e.g., a dream, an event in the news and its personal impact on you, or even where you want to go on your next vacation) will allow your partner to feel more a part of your inner life. This same principle holds for sharing your emotions, an unusual experience that you witnessed or were part of, and even being more open about health-related issues that you may be having. Again, quality time is about mutual connection, whether it is a positive experience or especially a negative one.
Barriers to Quality Time
Whether it be kids, working late, not enough money, or feeling tired, there are countless reasons/excuses to feel like there is no time for quality time. When you adopt the mindset that showing love for your partner is a priority, you will feel more motivated to spend quality time with them, even when barriers come up.
Since all couples are different, it is hard to outline how quality time with your partner can be defined in a general article like this. Spending quality time with your partner can have a new meaning that can benefit each of you if you are open to it. Always remember that you and your partner chose each other as lovers and spending quality time with them goes a long way in also being friends! We have written many self help articles written designed to improve the quality of your relationship that can be done at home, free of charge.
If you would like to discuss additional ways of creating quality time for each other, you can self schedule an in-person or virtual couples therapy session at the Center for Growth by calling (215) 922-5683 x 100.
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