According to Willard F. Harley, Jr., author of the popular marriage manual, His Needs, Her Needs, couples need to spend a minimum of 15 hours a week alone together. They need to give each other undivided attention if they want to enjoy a close and fulfilling relationship and avoid a marital shipwreck. But you might ask: “How on earth can we squeeze 15 hours of togetherness into our already tight schedule?” Well, according to Harley, you can’t afford not to.
Finding Time to Be with Your Spouse
Think about it. When you were courting, you probably spent that kind of time together without fail. You simply couldn’t bear to be apart – it was like breathing. Spending quality time together, in intimate conversation, was easy-peasy. It probably had a lot to do with you and your beloved building a solid bond and fanning the flame of desire. Your love bank accounts with each other had very high balances.
Then you got married. Maybe you had a couple kids. There were careers, Bible studies, PTA, sports practices, yard work, and a myriad of other obligations. Now just making room for a date night once in a while seems challenging. And perhaps you are discovering that you’re not as emotionally close as you used to be, nor quite as happily married.
Fifteen hours a week is equivalent to a little over two hours a day. Here is my brainstorm on ways to fit in time alone with your spouse, giving him or her your undivided attention:
For those of you with a very active love life, this particular activity will go a long way toward meeting that 15-hour minimum. Pillow talk is a must for maximum love bank deposits.
Take a Walk
Not only is walking good physical exercise, but walking, talking, and holding hands is an excellent relationship exercise.
Play a Game for Two
Play cards, cribbage, or whatever, but make sure that it is just the two of you and that you are focused on each other.
Have a Conversation
I once had a couple tell me they had been married so long that there wasn’t anything more to talk about. Hogwash! This tells me that they should consider working on personal growth as individuals in order to become deeper, more interesting people. If you and your spouse struggle to find things to talk about, try Googling a website like the ones below or and take turns picking the topic. Never stop investigating your mate and getting to know him or her better.
Share a Meal
Dine in or eat out, but either way, make it a time of sharing and emotional intimacy. No kids and no TV.
Give Each Other Back Rubs
Giving each other a massage can make hefty deposits into your love bank accounts. Once you’re feeling pretty good about each other, it may lead to love-making and/or a deep conversation afterward.
Do Devotions and Pray Together
Many Christian married couples read a daily devotional together. The topics introduced in devotionals can also be great conversation starters. When couples read the same thing, they may mull over it throughout the day and revisit it again later with each other.
Holding each other while talking is a sure way to communicate love. It can help you to draw emotionally closer to each other and stimulate feelings of security and peace.
Go Out for Coffee or Tea
Try visiting all the coffee shops in your city at least once, and then expand this to a neighboring locale. On sunny days, find a place with outdoor seating to get the added mood boost of sunshine therapy.
Read Together and Discuss
Choose a book you are both interested in and take turns reading aloud to each other. Afterward, discuss what you’ve read.
Take a Road Trip
Whether this is a short drive through the rural outskirts of town or a spontaneous day trip to the mountains, turn off the radio and turn your attention to each other.
Work on a Home Project
If you absolutely must get something off the to-do list while spending time with your partner, pick a home project that allows you to have a great conversation at the same time.
Plan for Something Exciting
Choose a place with few distractions, bring a notebook, and brainstorm with your lover. Share your dreams for the future, plan a home remodel, plot out a European vacation, or exchange ideas regarding some other significant activity or event.
Getting out into nature with the most important person in your life can certainly lead to wonderful conversations that cover a wide range of topics, leaving you feeling more emotionally connected. A beautiful view doesn’t hurt either.
Share a Passion
Research it, talk about it, and do it … together.
How Christian Counseling Can Strengthen Your Marriage
As a Christian counselor, it is one of my passions to help couples repair and rekindle their marriages. I accomplish this primarily by encouraging them to establish or reaffirm Christ’s position in the “three-stranded cord” of their relationship, while also training them to be intentional in the way they behave and relate to one another. Most married people yearn to enjoy the blessing of a passionate, emotionally close, lifetime journey with a lover and best friend whom they can trust. Achieving this is possible when both parties are willing to learn and apply proven strategies, undergirded by faith and the power of God.
His Needs, Her Needs,by Willard F. Harley, Jr.Photos
“Cuddling in the Sunset,” courtesy of MadalinIonut, pixabay.com, CC0 Public Domain License; “Couple in Love,” courtesy of Pedro Riberio Seimoes, Flickr CreativeCommons (CC BY 2.0); “Path to Heaven,” courtesy of gags9999, Flickr CreativeCommons (CC BY 2.0)