How To Make Time For Quality Time

The Sweetness of Our Marriage

At the beginning of our relationship, Tim and I didn’t have trouble spending time together. It didn’t take long after we started dating to make it a priority to see each other every day. Sometimes that meant a little sacrifice and inconvenience: I dropped by his house for a few minutes after youth group or he would get up early to see me at work before heading to school. Aside from trips that took us out of town, we continued this trend of daily face time into our engagement and our marriage.

Time is an essential ingredient for building any relationship. It takes time to get to know someone. It takes time to invest in someone. It takes time to produce intimacy. It takes time to maintain what you have worked to build. Marriage is one of the most important relationships to preserve and keep healthy, which requires time.

It seems like being married would make spending time as a married couple easier, right? I haven’t found that to be the case…

Being married does mean you get to live with your love, but it also means that real life is now inseparable from your romantic relationship. You can’t really escape into the fairy tale of boy-meets-girl when you also have to make your marriage exist on a practical level.

For me, that reality looks like bills making going-out dates less frequent, a messy house distracting me from cuddling on the couch, and our daily routines taking the place of intentional time together. We may have more time in the same place (does sleeping count?), but it takes purposeful planning to make that time feel like quality time.

I travel for work. (You can find out more about my work in this post.) This is immensely fun for me, but has been an interesting dynamic to navigate as a newlywed. Not only are we adjusting to life as a married couple, but I am gone a third of each month. My time away has not been detrimental (though it has the potential) to our marriage, however, it makes me very aware of how we spend our time when I’m home.

Even if quality time isn’t your love language, it’s necessary to give it and receive it for a marriage to thrive. (<– Tweet this!) For Tim and I, the actual quality time isn’t difficult to generate, it’s finding the time for the quality time. We can’t just let quality time form itself or it won’t happen as often as it should.

How To Make Time For Quality Time

Here’s how we make quality time an intentional part of our marriage:

  • Communicate! I get a detailed calendar of Tim’s schedule for the week on a regular basis. This helps me not to build false expectations of the time we get to spend together when I’m home. (Amy Lynn Andrews has a great post on how to create a weekly schedule using Google Calendar.)
  • Plan – Using that calendar, plan the time that you will turn into quality time. You don’t necessarily have to plan what you’ll do, but if you don’t plan on it, it rarely happens.
  • Just Say No – Once you have a plan, stick to it. This may mean you have to turn down other offers. No is difficult to say, but quality time with your spouse is worth prioritizing.
  • Evaluate – Sit down with your spouse and evaluate all the activities and groups you are involved in. Are they all necessary? Do they add to your quality of life or do they take away your valuable quality time with each other? Make the necessary adjustments.
  • Get Away – Sometimes you just need to get away from your everyday environment to secure that quality time. Tim and I have made it a priority to get out of town every couple months. Even if it’s just in a neighboring city, not having the distractions of home is really positive.

Quality time is important in every season of marriage! Each stage of life will come with different distractions and obstacles. While I’m still a newlywed, I want to make quality time a habit.

How do you make time for quality time in your marriage?

 

Hug Me: Learning Your Husband’s Love Language

Tim and I had our first love language conversation on June 13th, 2012. I remember the date because it’s my brother’s birthday AND because it was the first time, 3 days after we started dating, that Tim and I held hands.

The glorious feeling of his warm, strong fingers circling my own, always cold, hand may have influenced my love language conclusions during that first discussion.

I readily stated that among words of affirmation and acts of service, one of my love languages was physical touch. I figured that heady feeling whenever Tim wrapped his arm around me or kissed my forehead was a sure sign I heard love through physical affection.

My conclusions were sorely misguided.

Tim, on the other hand, was completely accurate when he said his love language was physical touch. This discrepancy has been a source of struggle for me since we got married. I love Tim, but I like to love him the way I love in general – through words of affirmation and acts of service – not through physical touch.

I do my love for Tim a diservice by not speaking his love language. It’s also dangerous if Tim doesn’t hear my love. I’ve learned that one of the greatest acts of service you can give your husband is learning his love language and speaking it fluently.

Service takes sacrifice and it’s a sacrifice to put his love language above the one you naturally give. It’s so challenging, yet so worth it.

Hug Me!

Our Story: Hug Me!

As I shared above, I discovered the importance of learning Tim’s love language when I realized ours were so vastly different. I’m an internal processor, so when I’m upset or frustrated, I’d rather be alone. I’ll avoid physical contact or, if Tim captures me in a hug before I can cold shoulder my way out of it, I’ll stand there lifeless in his arms. (I’m cringing as I admit this.)

In those moments, when an intentional display of physical affection is intrusive to my processing, Tim needs that hug or hand on his back to know that we are alright. For Tim, physical touch is less about sexual intimacy and more about physical closeness. Hugs feel safe and reassuring.  Holding hands or rubbing his neck communicates the “good” status of our relationship. Without these, he feels isolated and unloved.

It was disheartening to realize that the way I deal with conflict and express my affection both communicated the exact opposite of love to Tim. Learning Tim’s love language has been difficult for me, and actually speaking it is a daily choice that I don’t always choose. Both Tim and I are just embarking on the journey of learning to speak each other’s love languages.

The Choice To Serve

Whether love languages is new to you or old news, serving your husband in this way is vitally important to maintaining a healthy marriage.

  • Have a candid conversation about love languages. Get the book if you need somewhere to start. Share how you give and receive love.
  • Be honest and specific about your love language. It’s important that you both recognize each others expressions of love. Finish sentences like: “Love is when I do…” and “Love is when I say…”.
  • Acknowledge and appreciate your husband’s love language. You can’t change the way your spouse is wired. God made him that way.
  • Accept love from his love language. I know I’m suggesting that spouses should learn and speak their partner’s love language, but your husband may not be there quite yet. If he isn’t speaking your love language, pray for receptivity towards the way he gives love. Grace is an important player as you learn to give and receive love.
  • Be intentional about learning his love language. It’s not something that will come naturally. For me, this looks like reaching out first, random acts of physical affection, and, in conflict, staying physically present.
  • Practice! When I studied abroad in Italy, I didn’t learn to speak Italian in the classroom.  I learned Italian by living with an Italian family, having conversation dates with an Italian friend, and forcing myself to use Italian while ordering my cappuccino. It was rough and embarrassing at first, but by the time I left Italy, I was conversationally fluent. The same goes for learning a love language. It takes time and practice in real life situations, but fluency is possible.

All of this is still difficult for me. I outlined this post on Sunday morning and then failed miserably at exactly what I was writing about almost immediately. Hence the need for grace in this whole process.

Apology and HUGS later, I was even more convinced that speaking Tim’s love language was one of the best ways to serve my husband.

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Pop on over to these blogs to read what they have to say about service in marriage:

Check out the other posts in this series: CommunicationLaughter. Sex

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