Quality time is one of the five love languages Gary Chapman discusses in his book. But spending quality time as a couple can be difficult when both people in the relationship are beyond busy.
In this post, I’ll share seven easy ways even the busiest couples can sneak in some quality time together.
Why quality time is so important in a relationship
Whether we are talking about your spouse, your child, or your best friend, quality time is essential in any relationship. It is particularly important, however, when quality time is your or your partner’s love language.
How is spending quality time an expression of love? According to Chapman,
“When I sit with my wife and give her twenty minutes of my undivided attention and she does the same for me, we are giving each other twenty minutes of life. We will never have those twenty minutes again; we are giving our lives to each other.”
DAMN, GINA! That’s deep.
What counts as quality time for couples?
According to Chapman, a lot of couples “think they are spending time together when, in reality, they are only living in close proximity. They are in the same house at the same time, but they are not together.”
I. AM. TRIGGERED.
So, Gary, you mean to say that sitting next to each other on the couch, I on my laptop and he on his phone, while we occasionally glance up to check in with the Netflix show that’s on or to show each other a particularly good dog meme doesn’t count as quality time!?
Quality time doesn’t necessarily have to be focused attention given during a deep, one-on-one conversation though. Quality time can also happen in the form of quality activities, which are any activities done together in a way that allows you to interact with your partner and enjoy their company.
Netflix and chill doesn’t really foster that interaction, and there’s the rub.
If you think you’re “too busy” for quality activities, I am here to help!
Weekly date nights and weekend escapes and rock climbing and going to the theater are all well and good. But for super busy couples (not to mention couples on a budget), those types of quality activities may not be very realistic.
So, here are seven simple ways for busy couples to sneak in some quality time together.
1. Read to each other.
So then, what’s an activity that can replace the passive, disengaged, non-quality Netflix time? Try reading together. I don’t mean both of you quietly reading your separate books on the couch. I mean taking turns reading aloud from the same book.
I know, I know. NERD ALERT. But this is actually pretty entertaining, and it’s weirdly intimate which makes it really loving and enjoyable. My husband and I read David Grann’s fascinating and suspenseful The Lost City of Z together like this on a camping trip and it was so fun.
You may even try reading The 5 Love Languages together! I read as much of it with my husband as I can and it has sparked some genuine discussion (and even an argument or too, but hey, that’s marriage!).
2. Turn the TV off during meals.
I don’t know about you, but meals are when we get the most quality TV time in our house. We even have a whole system in place! We watch Frasier on Hulu during breakfast, Gilmore Girls on Netflix during lunch, and either a current HBO show (right now it’s The Outsider) or a movie for dinner.
I don’t see us giving up this routine altogether, but I can tell you that when there is something important to discuss or when one of us is feeling down or stressed about something, we naturally end up talking through the meal instead of pressing play anyway. So, this first suggestion seems like a particularly easy way for us as a couple to spend more quality time together.
3. Go on Target runs together.
My husband and I freakishly enjoy Target runs together. We make an event out of it.
I’ll have a list of all the household things we need (toilet paper, coffee filters, etc.) but we also give ourselves permission to peruse. We glance up and down the stationery and office supply aisles for me and walk through the men’s apparel section in case a surprisingly on point hipster flannel jumps out at us for my husband.
Sometimes, we forego coffee at home and go to Target first thing in the morning so we can grab Starbucks inside the Target to make our shopping experience even more perfect.
4. Get your cars washed at the same time.
Ah, car washes: where time stops.
This tip is very Los Angeles. Be warned.
I hate going to the car wash. My husband, on the other hand, loves it so much that it’s one of his go-to activities when he needs to reset and recharge. He used to just take my car for me since that option made both of us happy. But, in the spirit of spending more quality time together, we exercise a third option now.
Whenever we can, we drive both of our cars to the car wash together because once we’re there, we have nothing to do but sit on a bench and wait until our cars are done.
In fact, one of our favorite car washes has a Starbucks across the street so sometimes we’ll treat ourselves to an iced latte while we wait. (I promise this is not a sponsored post for Starbucks. I’m just that basic.)
5. Walk the dog together.
Our dog is a 70-pound boxer mix who will lunge at any skateboard that ventures out of the skate park across the street, any bicycle that is not going fast enough or not traveling in a straight enough line, any dog also on a walk who refuses to pay attention to him or, alternatively, pays too much attention to him, or looks too much like him which totally freaks him out, any squirrel or cat, and, sometimes, absolutely nothing at all. To make a long story short, I no longer walk my dog. That is my husband’s job.
But, to continue our theme of chores that don’t take two people to complete, on days that I work from home, I make sure to go on at least one dog walk with my husband. It takes just fifteen minutes or so and it feels nice to be a cute little family walking down the street together.
Pure quality time in no time at all.
For couples who spend a lot of time apart, FaceTiming is a great way to make your phone conversations a little more intimate. Even if the conversation lasts one minute during your lunch break, we are aiming for quality here and not quantity.
A couple years ago, my husband had the opportunity to record some music at a pretty legendary studio in Malibu. He was there with his musician friends nerding out and working hard, and I wasn’t expecting a call let alone a FaceTime. But they were taking a five minute break, and he used that time to FaceTime me because he wanted to show me the awesome space he was working in and share this important milestone in his career with me.
It took all of thirty seconds but here I am years later telling you about it, so apparently it worked!
7. Text each other photos throughout the day.
Busy couples can still spend quality time together even when they are apart by sending each other photos. Chapman says sending a photo of something as it is happening is a great way to include your spouse from a distance.
My husband and I are not the only dog parents to send each other countless photos of our dog. But I rarely think to send him a non-dog photo.
For example, when I was out of town for a work conference last year, I was really into one of my outfits. So, I took a mirror selfie in my hotel room and sent it to him before heading down to a workshop. He was so surprised to get the photo and thought it was so cute! It made his day because he missed me and got to see his pretty wife. But it also made my day because his compliments made me feel like a million bucks.
How do you spend quality time with your partner?
What additional ways can you think of for busy couples to spend quality time together? Let us know in the comments below.
Or, if you’re reading along, what other thoughts did you have about the reading this week?
Want to keep reading?
If you missed it, check out last week’s post on Chs. 1-3 of The 5 Love Languages.