It’s easy in life to get overwhelmed, overbooked, and overextended. In the midst of kids, career, extended family, never-ending laundry, bills, and mile-long to-do lists, it seems like there’s never enough time in the day to stop and just relax. If we’re not careful, it’s easy to put our marriage on autopilot, hoping that it will somehow manage to take care of itself. If we put the relationship an auto-pilot, it’s only a matter of time before we end up running on empty—and finding ourselves disconnected to our spouse, wondering why we don’t feel much love or passion.
John Gottman, a leading researcher in the field, suggests that happily married couples make time for one another regularly. In fact, he suggests that couples put aside at least five hours a week for one another. At first glance, five hours of uninterrupted couple time may seem like an unachievable goal. But in the grand scheme of things, it’s only 3% of our entire 168-hour week…yep, only 3%! Here are the ways Gottman suggests spending your magic five hours.
- Partings (2 minutes per day): Warm farewells, asking about your mate’s plans for the day, what they are looking forward to, and giving them a big 6-second kiss goodbye.
- Reunions (20 minutes per day): Greet each other with another 6-second kiss (a lot of good can happen from 6 seconds of lip locking), and have a stress-reducing conversation. This means you share with one another your highs and lows of your days, and you take a moment to show empathy for your partner, genuine excitement, care, and concern for what’s going on in their life. This gives you both a sense of “us against the world.”
- Appreciation (5 minutes per day): In a marriage, it’s easy to notice the not-so-great things about our partner. We become deficit detectives, seeing every fault and failure. This can be a recipe for disaster in our relationships. To counteract the negativity, spend 5 minutes each day showing appreciation to your partner. Let them know what you love, respect, and admire about them. A little positivity can go a long way.
- Affection (5 minutes per day): Whether it’s hugging, cuddling on the couch, rubbing your spouse’s feet, or having fun tickling or playing with your mate, sharing affection a few minutes each day can be very connecting and comforting.
- Weekly Date (2 hours per week): A weekly date consists of you and your mate (sorry, no kiddos, friends, or relatives), spending uninterrupted time together. Whether it’s a walk on the beach, grabbing an ice cream cone or hanging out at a coffee house to chat, simply disconnecting from everyone and everything (cell phones & tablets included) can help you reconnect to your spouse.
Spending five hours with your spouse in one week won’t magically create a healthy, happy marriage. But, if you intentionally invest the time in your relationship on a regular basis, you can keep your “relationship tank” full. As a result, you and your partner will feel loved, connected, and supported for a lifetime.
Need some extra help getting things back on track? Consider couples therapy. Click here to learn more.