How To Affirm Your Partner With Your Time
Have you ever heard that time is money? For someone whose love language is 'quality time', they find it priceless when someone takes the time to be with them, no money could ever be worth that time spent. (For a brief introduction to the 5 Love Languages, read this article, or to take the free online test, follow this link). According to Dr. Gary Chapman, "quality time" means giving someone your undivided attention, looking at each other, talking, really seeing that person. Quality time often includes these 5 elements:
Togetherness means we are doing something together and giving our full attention to the other person. The activity is the vehicle that creates a sense of togetherness. The activity itself is not as important as the emotions that are created as a result of the time spent together.
Quality time also includes quality conversation--a sympathetic dialogue where both are sharing their thoughts, experiences, feelings, and desires in a respectful, uninterrupted context. 'Quality conversation' is different from 'words of affirmation' in that it focuses on what one hears; whereas, 'words of affirmation' focus on what is said. The focus is drawing out the other person by sympathetically listening with a desire to understand thoughts, feelings, and desires.
Art of listening
A large part of conversation centers around sympathetic listening, with the aim to understand the other person's thoughts, feelings, and desires. We must be willing to give advice, but only when it is requested and never condescendingly. Here are some practical tips for listening:
- Maintain eye contact when your spouse is talking.
- Focus only on listening to your spouse, don't do something else at the same time.
- Listen for feelings and restate in your words what you hear your spouse saying.
- Observe body language and look for contradictions and clarification.
- Refuse to interrupt, defend, or correct, instead seek to discover their thoughts and feelings.
Art of talking
Learning the art of talking includes self-revelation, sharing thoughts and feelings. In our daily lives we have thoughts, desires, and actions--the expression of that process is self-revelation. This may be challenging if you have been tought to deny your feelings.
The emphasis is on being together, doing things together in which one or both has an interest, giving each other undivided attention. The focus is not what you are doing but why--to experience something together. Quality activities provide a memory bank for the years ahead.
When I was first learning about the love languages, over 10 years ago, the free online test did not exist, and I always thought my first love language was 'acts of service.' Recently, I did the online test just for fun, and I discovered my main love language is actually quality time! (Only by 1 point though, so acts of service is still a close second, which we'll read about in another article.) Even though this is not Patrik's main love language, I can see it is a close second for him as well. Also for our son, I can see he needs quality time to feel loved and affirmed. When we first got married, one of the best ways we ensured quality time, was to have weekly date nights. This didn't mean we always had to go out, it simply meant we were together amidst busy schedules. Date nights are even more necessary after having our son. Again, this doesn't always mean we need to go out, sometimes we take the time after our son goes to sleep, to play a game and talk, other times we need to get out of the home. As a family, it has become important to eat dinner together, hopefully more nights than not in a week. Dinner is a time where we can connect over a good meal and share in conversation about our day, life, goals, joys, challenges, anything really. This means no phones/tablets at the dinner table. If we don't have time to connect at dinner, I find myself feeling disconnected as a family. I find we have to guard our time and manage it wisely in order for it to be quality.
The 'Daily Minimum Requirement' for a healthy marriage, according to Dr. Gary Chapman involves the couple to "establish a daily sharing time in which each of you will talk about three things that happened to you that day and how you feel about them." Try making a routine time and place to make this happen, perhaps at the dinner table. Try making time once a week to connect with each other, block it out in your schedules so nothing else takes priority. Plan special evenings together, maybe once a month, where you do get out of the home and away from every day life, to treat yourselves to each others' undivided attention.
If this is you or your spouse's love language, what do you find most helpful in sharing quality time with each other? What are the challenging aspects of this love language? Can you share any tips or ideas for showing love through quality time?