Another trait of happy couples is they spend quality time together. Being alone with your partner is vital for effective communication, showing appreciation, and fostering emotional intimacy. Unfortunately making time for your relationship often falls by the wayside in our fast paced society. What little time we do have to spare at the end of our busy day is often spent on relaxing activities alone: watching a favorite television program, reading a few chapters in a new novel, or mindlessly browsing the web. This focus on me-ness is understandable, but not beneficial for your relationship.
The Gottman Institute does not identify as a Christian organization, but we like the idea of Lent. Starting on Ash Wednesday, Lent is the Christian observance of the church year in which faithful ones commit to fasting or giving up certain types of luxury as a form of penitence. At The Gottman Institute, we view Lent as a great opportunity to give up harmful relationship practices. Just like the over-indulger who gives up sweets and the smoker who gives up cigarettes, a lover who values me-time over we-time can benefit from relationship Lent. It is time to fast from your alone time! Vow to spend 30 more minutes every day with your partner. In a little over a month, you can accumulate 20 hours of quality alone time with your loved one.
It is not necessary to find extra hours in the day, but to utilize your time wisely. There are countless ways we can manipulate time to the advantage of your relationship. Try getting up just a little bit earlier. Linger over your morning coffee while you enjoy each other’s company. Or start preparing dinner together every night. Maybe you can focus on we-time and save water, too. Showering together is a fun way to spend time with your partner and may even lead to other “fun activities." Whatever you decide, be rigorous with yourself. Get in your 30 minutes every day and watch your relationship grow stronger.