When you first get into a relationship, you can’t get enough quality time with your partner. There’s no shortage of spontaneous Date Nights, romantic trips away and all you can think about is all the exciting things you’re going to do with the time you spend together.
But fairly quickly life happens and “spending the rest of your lives together” meets a very real and often mediocre reality. That romantic glaze we usually feel at the start of a relationship soon wears off as finding time to devote to your romantic partner gets sidelined by some of life’s other pressures.
That’s where quality time can work its magic. It can mean the difference between feeling more like roommates than romantic partners. We’re going to delve a little deeper into what quality time is, and how it can make for a healthier happier relationship.
What is Quality Time?
Not all time is created equal.
You probably see your partner a lot. If you live together, you see them every day. They’re the first person you talk to in the morning, and the last person you say goodnight to.
But quality time is more than just being around each other. It’s about making the most of your time together and making a real effort to connect on an emotional level, deepening your bond and helping you grow closer together.
Gary Chapman, author of The 5 Love Languages, defined quality time as “Giving someone your undivided attention. I don’t mean sitting on the couch watching television. I mean sitting on the couch with the TV off, looking at each other and talking, and giving each other your undivided attention.”
How do you do that? Well, it really depends on you. But just in case you need some pointers ““ another night of Netflix and chill isn’t quite going to cut it. Everyone has a different picture of what great quality looks like, so it’s important to talk to your partner about what it means to them so you can do something a little more meaningful. To some, it might be sharing a quiet dinner on Friday night after work. To others, it’s hanging out for a few hours each week doing something fun together. What’s important here is making sure you have the opportunity to communicate well and listen to each other.
Why is Quality Time Important In Your Relationship?
Time is the currency of relationships. Investing time in your relationship allows you to build memories together, strengthen bonds and overall enrich your relationship with your partner.
Relationship researchers Wilcox and Drew found that people who spent quality time with their partner at least once a week were 3.5 times more likely to report being “˜very happy’ in their relationship compared to those who didn’t.
As a couple, having a night to focus on connecting helps strengthen a relationship. It helps foster a greater sense of togetherness and gives you distraction-free time to talk, touch base and connect with your partner on a deeper level ““ all important parts of keeping that fire burning.
quality time is also a great way to build your friendship with each other. It gives you the opportunity to reignite that sense of fun you had at the start of your relationship and laugh together.
Quality Time And Your “Emotional Bank Account”
One of the most crucial benefits Quality Time can have is on your relationship’s emotional bank account. What does that mean exactly? According to the Gottman Institute, when you and your partner respond to affection from each other, you make a deposit into your relationship’s emotional bank account. When you reject or turn away from that affection, you make a withdrawal. You never want that balance to be a zero ““ or worse, in negative. So, the more you deposit the better.
According to this study, couples who respond positively to their partner’s bid for affection, that is anything from a smile to a playful tickle, are more likely to stay together. In the study, those who turned toward their partner’s bids for emotional connection 86% of the time stayed married, while those who divorced only did it 33% of the time.
When you spend quality time with your partner, you make a deposit into your relationship’s emotional bank account so that when you need to make a withdrawal, in the future your relationship has enough emotional capital to withstand it.
How to Spend Better Time Together
Now we have a good idea of what quality time is and why it’s important, it’s time to set the wheels in motion. We’ve put together some top tips to make sure you can put what you’ve learnt into practice in your own relationship.
1. Put It in the Diary
If something matters to us, we invest time into it, and our relationship is no different. Date Night is important to you, right? So it’s important to lay the groundwork to make sure it actually happens. Putting quality time in the diary and schedule time together is key to making sure it stays a priority ““ and that it happens at all.
Using a shared Calendar app like Cupla makes this even easier. Cupla syncs both you and your partner’s calendars, giving you a single view of your partner’s schedule alongside your own ““ allowing you to easily find the space to be together.
2. Try Not to Cancel
Once you schedule quality time, you must protect it at all costs. Treat it with the same importance you would at a work meeting or a family event. Don’t schedule over it, and if you absolutely have to ““ always book a new date straight away.
3. Be Present in Those One-On-One Moments
So after some successful scheduling, you’ve made it to Date Night. But it’s not enough to just book time together. You have to be present. Quality time is all about connecting ““ and that means conversation and discussion. It’s important to be interested in your partner, how they’re feeling and how their week was. These kinds of things tend to slip by the wayside when life gets busy. When they open up, give them signs that you’re listening, acknowledge their feelings and make them feel heard.
4. Avoid Distractions When You’re Together
Here’s where your newfound quality time knowledge comes in. When you’re spending time together turn your phone on silent. Even better, turn it off completely and slip it somewhere out of sight. This gives you space to really focus on listening and giving each other your undivided attention.
5. Make it Fun
There’s nothing wrong with dinner and a movie but you can really push the boat out if you’d like to. Date Night is a great way to expand both of your horizons and create new memories with new experiences. Try doing something you’ve never done before. It could be a dance class or a gig ““ you could even go bungee jumping if you like!
One of our personal favourite suggestions is adding all the random, fun things you can think of to do together to a “Date Jar”, and pulling them out for each Date Night. It’s a great way to spice up what you normally do.
6. Make Spending Time a Weekly Goal
Setting a Date Night goal helps both you and your partner keep those quality one-on-one moments with each other at the top of the priority list. Cupla gives you the option to set Date Night goals so you can make quality time a shared priority. Ready to take the next step? Better time together starts here with Cupla.
Photographer: Jakob Owens