I used to get confused about when time spent together qualifies as quality time. It seems like there could be a gap in perception between two people on whether there is quality in their interaction.
If you’ve read The Five Love Languages by Dr Gary Chapman, you know that quality time is one of the primary love languages. If you’ve never taken the test to find out your primary love language, I’d recommend it. It’s very interesting. You may even identify the cause of the issues you’ve had in relationships.
Dr Chapman makes the point that we all want to experience the expression of all of the five love languages but usually, people have a primary language that makes them feel truly loved and appreciated.
The person whose primary love language is quality time feels the most loved when their partner spends meaningful time with them. There was a time in my life when I would have considered watching a football game with a beer to be quality time. I’m not so sure spending time this way would make most women feel very loved though.
This idea of quality time can be subjective. Though it’s not my primary language, it’s a close second. Even so, I still was not confident about getting it right until I got intentional.
How can we put the ‘quality’ in quality time? Here are some ways I’ve found to know I’m bringing quality to time spent together.
With a focus on eight simple principles, you can improve the quality of the time you spend with the person you love.
1. Setting Aside Time
Multitasking while spending time with our partners is a sure way to remove the quality from the interaction. Put the technology away. Shut off the television. Remove distractions. My actions should clearly demonstrate that I am present in the moment and the purpose is to spend time together.
2. Eye Contact While Listening and Talking
It seems so simple but means so much. Nothing demonstrates focus and attention in a conversation like looking directly into the other person’s eyes. You send the message that “I hear you. I see you. And you are important to me.” Even if your attention is perfectly focused on the other person, they might not feel it if your eyes aren’t in contact with theirs.
3. Quality Is More Important Than Quantity
I’ve learned that sometimes quality time can be a few minutes. Your partner might just need a few minutes to vent. Stop and listen. By taking the time out to hear her, you have made her feel loved. I used to think that it would be impractical to do this. I thought that if I’m in the middle of a workday, I can’t take a lot of time to have a conversation. The reality is that just stopping and listening to a little bit may mean the world to a person whose primary love language is quality time.
4. Make Connection a Daily Priority
It’s easy to let days get away from us. Days become weeks. Weeks become months. Long absences from the quality time are destructive to the relationship; especially for the person whose primary love language is quality time. Connection time needs to be a priority each and every day. It may sound silly but if it’s not natural, put it on the list of to-dos. It will become natural over time.
5. Appreciation of the Now
Quality time primary love language people have an incredible appreciation of the now. They know that tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. They treasure meaningful moments in the present tense. They don’t take things for granted. It’s critical to stay in the present in order for them to feel that the time is quality time.
6. Don’t Feel the Need to Speak
The way that most people listen is to think about what they’re going to say next while the other person is talking. You can’t do this and actually hear what the other person is trying to tell you. I have learned that there’s no need to have the perfect reply to what I’m being told. That’s not what my partner is looking for. She wants to feel heard and so I try to stay focused on what she is saying. Not what I’m going to say next.
7. Make Plans to Spend Time Together
Not everyone’s into planning I know. Plans don’t always need to be formal though. In our culture, everyone leads such hectic lives that we need to consciously set aside time to spend together in order for it to happen. If we don’t, all of the other demands of life will crowd out any opportunity for quality time. Plans come in all forms. Maybe it’s a dinner date. Or maybe it’s just planning to spend some time talking. The key is that there is a specific time blocked out to spend time together free of distractions.
8. Be Spontaneous
Take the chance to do something different when life presents it. If a work commitment cancels and you both have time unexpectedly, seize the moment. Get out of town. Go to a museum together. Spend time together in surprising ways. Even if the idea turns out to be less than ideal, the fact that you did it together creates high quality, memorable time. If quality time is your partner’s primary love language, spontaneity means a lot.
Primary love language or not, putting some effort into creating quality time is worth it. Among the deepest human needs are the need to be heard and understood. Quality time creates the right environment for those needs to be met.
Image courtesy of Arina Krasnikova.