We all have busy lives and are trying to juggle many responsibilities. You don’t need me to tell you what fills your time, but how do we make sure the relationships that matter the most are getting their needs met while meeting the ever growing demands of life as it flies by? The age old question whether the quality or the quantity of time we spend together is what matters? My answer is: Yes! We need both to sustain any relationship from with our children to with our partner! So how do we do it and maintain our sanity?
There are 168 hours in 1 week. If we average 8 hours of sleep a night and 8 hours of work Monday through Friday, that leaves us 72 additional hours. If you are working more than 40 hours a week and struggling to balance your relationships, you may want to reconsider what makes you happy and what your dreams for life are. The same goes for if you have a long commute because you may need a dfferent job, house, or re-allign what you have with what you want. Unrequited dreams are a hot topic in most counseling sessions between couples but are usually masked behind arguments of finances, child rearing, and sex.
Seventy-two hours is a lot of time when you look at it! What would you say is a realistic amount of time to spend with your spouse? Your child? Your parents? Your hairdresser? The television? At the gym? Children need consistency to open up, and this does not end as they get older. Setting aside 10 minutes a day with your child will do wonders for your ability to communicate with them! Maybe it will take turning off the radio while driving, taking them to school, or having one child each night help with dinner. Meal times are very important moments to teach manners, listening skills, compromise, and talk about your day. If you are not having family meals together, turn the television off and see what meal you can make happen, even if it is a bowl of cereal before everyone runs in their own direction!
With your spouse, make those little moments big. Make greetings or good byes impactful enough where you won’t wonder if you said, “I love you.” It only takes a few minutes to set down what you were doing to show them how much they do matter. If you can get 10-15 minutes of one on one time every day (see a trend?), it will make conversation easier and more relaxed for those weekly dates. Take a look at some of the other blogs on our site for ideas on how to take your date nights to a higher level of quality. Do activities thogether that boost your pleasure levels, such as the gym, walking the dog, or a favorite hobby. Be creative in incorporating your loved one into those routines instead of separating them, which is also less overwhelming when planning your time. If you can get 5 hours a week with your partner, prpreferably some each day, your relationship should see vast improvements.
If you must pick quantity or quality, choose quantity. We are sharing our lives with one another, not trying to entertain. The quality moments are there to add sparks and to remind ourselves and those we love what dreams they help us achieve by being in our lives!
Jennifer Kempfert is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and couples specialist at The Marriage and Family Clinic in Westminster, CO