With all of life’s demands, it’s easy to become overwhelmed, overbooked, and overextended. Among kids, careers, 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 simply relax. If we’re not careful, our marriage can switch to autopilot and we hope it will somehow manage to take care of itself. Once on auto-pilot, it’s only a matter of time before we end up running on empty. We find ourselves disconnected from our spouse and 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. 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%! Keep reading for Gottman’s suggestions for how to create the magical five hours.
Five Magic Hours Lead to a Better Marriage
Partings (2 minutes per day)
Be intentional when parting. Warm farewells, asking about your mate’s plans for the day, and what they are looking forward to, and giving them a big 6-second kiss goodbye are simple ways to leave a lasting impression.
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. Share the highs and lows of your days. 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” as we notice every fault and failure. This is 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 for 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 with your spouse.
Bringing it all Together
Spending five hours with your spouse in one week won’t magically create a better and happier marriage. But if you intentionally invest time in your relationship regularly, you can keep your “relationship tank” full. As a result, you and your partner will feel loved, connected, and support for a lifetime.
Need some extra help getting things back on track? Consider couples therapy. Click here to learn more.