A lot of people wonder-what makes a happy couple? There have been all kinds of research done on the topic, and we’ve come up with all sorts of different answer. Everything from healthy communication to sexual intimacy to having similar interests. While all of these issues are positive and necessary to address in a relationship, they all become obsolete unless one, simple thing is present-time. Unless a couple is spending adequate, quality time together, it makes trying to overcome any other issue nearly impossible. Therefore, it is important that you know how much time you should be spending with your partner, and what you should be doing with that time. The following is a list of the four most essential ways you should be spending time with your partner in order to achieve a happy, successful relationship:
1. AT LEAST 1 hour per week to discuss schedules and calendar
Spending this one-on-one time together has many purposes. First, it allows the two of you to be on the same page during the week so that there aren’t misunderstandings or overlapping in schedules. Also, it shows each of you the times that you may be needed to help pick up some slack, or show support to your partner. For example, if you know that on Wednesday from 3:00-5:00pm your partner has an important presentation, you may be able to help them prepare, ask them how it went, or simply know not to “push any buttons” that day. Lastly, spending this time each week allows opportunity for connection and insight into each other’s individual lives, so that even when you’re apart from each other, you can still have a sense of closeness and partnership.
2. AT LEAST 2 hours per week of alone time
This is what many have referred to as a “weekly date night”, but it is in fact necessary to the sustaining of a healthy relationship. This should be a time to let loose, be flirty, and have fun! It is not a time to discuss stressful issues or problems in the relationship-save that for another time or the therapy office. You know how once a year you celebrate your anniversary or Valentine’s Day, and you catch a glimpse of what it used to be like when you were dating? You deserve to have that experience every week! It may not always include a dozen roses and a $200 dinner, but you can still simply enjoy being around each other. And please feel free to be creative-dinner and a movie every week gets a little boring. Take turns planning, and don’t put too much pressure on yourselves. If it has to be a late night in front of the fire playing Yahtzee after the kids have gone to bed, then so be it!
3. AT LEAST 15 minutes per day for a mood check-in
This one can be dispersed throughout the day. When you’re apart, you should be checking in with each other just to see how your partner is doing. This can be a real “boost” in the day. It doesn’t need to be long- five minute phone calls here and there. If your daily schedule doesn’t allow you to make phone calls, a text or email will work. It is also okay to use the full 15 minutes at one time during a lunch break. Just try to touch base with each other when you’re apart as a reminder that you’re there for each other.
4. AT LEAST 1 weekend getaway every 2-3 months
This doesn’t have to be an exotic trip to Tahiti or an expensive European excursion (although I’m still trying to convince my husband it should!). If all you can manage is an overnight camping trip, or weekend jaunt to your friend’s timeshare at a local getaway, that’s great! You really just need time with each other periodically throughout the year to get away from it all and reconnect. This one can be challenging due to finances, work schedules, and childcare, but if you make it a priority and get really creative, you can usually find a way to fit it in.
Keep in mind that all of these steps are about you and your partner, so if your “date night” includes friends or your weekend away includes kids, it doesn’t count! It is absolutely critical for couples to spend a lot of time together, or else it gets really easy for other things to get in the way, and cause stress in the relationship. Think again about when you were dating-it is likely that your worlds revolved around each other, and you spent every possible second with each other. And we wonder why when we get married and stop doing those things the flame fizzles out!
Now, this list is by no means a “cure all” to fixing a struggling relationship, but it is a necessary first step. If you can begin working towards implementing these 4 ways of spending time together into your relationship, you will likely begin to feel much closer to your partner, and you will actually have the energy, respect, patience, and TIME it takes to discuss your other root issues.
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