“I encourage couples to make a resolution to schedule 15 to 20 minutes each day for a number of reasons: You have something to look forward to throughout your day. You demonstrate to your partner that they are a priority and the relationship is a priority. You can use this as a time to show your partner care and support. ” —Zufall
This year I have dedicated one week each month to delving deeper into the love languages. This is not only because I profoundly believe in them and their efficacy, but because speaking your partner’s love language is a simple way you can start to improve or enrich your relationship today. This month, I want to focus on my personal favorite, the love language of Quality Time.
Those who receive love through Quality Time really just need you–and they need all of you. By this I mean put your phone down. Turn off the TV. Tell your friends to wait. Spend undistracted time with your partner. Not only will you fulfill their emotional needs, but you will notice that this Quality Time truly enhances the quality of your relationship! It is a win-win for both of you.
How can I do this?
The great thing about this love language is that you can spend quality time together in the normal course of your day; you do not need to go out of your way doing something special, nor do you need to buy anything. The biggest deterrent from spending time together is getting sidetracked by life’s responsibilities. How can that be overcome? By planning. Set aside a specific time at a regular interval and stick to it. This may mean that you plan on catching up on the day for 5-10 minutes directly after work. Or it could mean that each Sunday you play Uno over hot cocoa or ice cream. Or you could plan on going to bed at the same time and having pillow talk every night. Or one night a week you try preparing a new recipe together. Or Saturday mornings you work out at the park. Whatever the time limit and whenever the frequency, be sure to make it a priority. The time you set aside and plan around will soon become a couple ritual between you and your partner that you will begin to look forward to and cherish.
What are some specific ideas?
You or your partner may be under the false notion that Quality Time is staring blankly at each other or simply just talking. This is absolutely untrue! Although conversating is a great way to reconnect (not to mention easy and convenient!), there are a great deal of activities you and your partner can do to really enjoy whatever Quality Time that you do have together. Dr. Chapman goes into this in greater detail and explains that Quality Time can consist of either Quality Conversation or Quality Activities.
Quality Conversation is not just chatting or surface level dialogue (eg. talking about bills or childcare). It is where you share experiences, thoughts, feelings, and desires in a friendly, uninterrupted context. It means you focus on what you hear, you draw out your partner’s thoughts, listen sympathetically, ask questions, maintain eye contact, refuse to interrupt, and do not multitask. Quality Activities can include anything in which one or both of you has an interest. The purpose is to experience something together, to walk away from it feeling that your partner cares for you and vice versa. It can mean a great deal to your partner if you do something that he/she is interested in that you may not be particularly drawn to. Examples of potential activities for Quality Time include:
- Making dinner (or any meal)
- Meal planning (surfing Pinterest in search of recipes to try together can be a fun activity)
- Folding laundry
- Playing a game (if you do not own board or card games, play something simple like 20 questions to get to know your partner better!)
- Cleaning your home/apartment
- Going through old pictures/journals
- Being close (cuddling or being intimate)
- Working on a bucket list or long-term goals
- Reading a book (Dr. Chapman recommends reading “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus” together and discussing each chapter)
- Working out/exercising
- Having a relationship evaluation; discussing where you could improve and where you are succeeding
There are infinite possibilities of things you can do during your quality time. It will vary and depend widely on the interests, hobbies, lifestyle of both you and your partner. My friend’s sister and her husband take their time together early each morning as they work out. One of my favorite professors and her husband planned on reading their bible together each night before bed. Another couple plans to go on a long bike ride up a canyon near their home each Friday morning. What matters is that you are spending time together, and that you are focusing on spending Quality Time with your partner. As you make an effort to spend more quality time with your partner, you will find that he or she is more satisfied in your relationship and feels more connected to you. This truly does wonders for a relationship!
You may be wondering how your partner can have your “undivided attention” if you are doing something else together–like playing a game or scrolling Pinterest for recipe ideas. What I mean (and what Dr. Chapman means) by “undivided attention” is that you put the rest of your life on hold. Phone calls, texts, emails, the news, even your children (!) can wait. Your relationship and its health comes before everything else. Some couples choose to put their phones in a basket or in another room while they spend their Quality Time together, so as to not be distracted in any way. If you have children and find it nearly impossible to have a single moment of peace and quiet, plan ahead! Take advantage of whatever time you do have on your own and give some of it to your partner. Yes, life will always be there and you will always have demands pulling you several different directions, but if you can put as much of life on hold as possible, you can focus on the most important thing in front of you–your relationship with your partner. That is what I mean by giving undivided attention to your partner. Pause everything else and physically/emotionally/mentally BE with him or her.
Every relationship has areas that work well and areas that could use improvement. Feeling more loved and appreciated is something all of us would like! If you do not know your partner’s (or your own) love language, I highly recommend taking the quiz from the 5 Love Languages website. Understanding love languages will enable you to directly and efficiently communicate how much you care about your significant other. If your partner is learning to communicate in your love language, offer gentle guidance and point out progress. If you are trying to speak your partner’s love language, be patient–it takes time to learn how to speak a new language. Learning to express love through Quality Time can be fun because there are so many ways to spend time together. The most important thing is to just be present. That is the best gift you can give your partner! As the old adage goes, “love” is really spelled T-I-M-E. Should you ever need additional assistance implementing love languages and working towards a more fulfilling relationship, you know my office door is always open!
Melissa Cluff is a licensed marriage and family therapist based in Lewisville, Texas, personally seeing clients in the North Dallas area.
- 5 Love Languages Website
- Chapman, Gary: The 5 Love Languages
- Cluff Counseling: “Bucket Lists: A Powerful Form of Self-Care”
- Cluff Counseling: “How to Give the Perfect Valentine’s Gift”
- Cluff Counseling: “Love Languages: The Gift of Words”
- Cluff Counseling: “Love Languages: Showing Love Through Gifts”
- Cluff Counseling: “Love Languages: Showing Love Through the Gift of Service”
- Focus on the Family: “Understanding the 5 Love Languages”
- LifeHacker: “How the Five Love Languages Can Help You Win at Relationships”
- Nurturing Marriage: “Living the Love Language of Quality Time”
- The Odyssey: “What The Love Language Of Receiving Gifts Really Means”
- She Knows: “What Are the 5 Love Languages?”