How much time should you and your spouse spend together in the course of a week? Like real, quality time. How much time do you need?
It’s a good question, and you will find varying answers from people in varying life phases. From personal experience, I know 20 minutes a day doesn’t cut it. And then I think back to when we were dating in college and couldn’t get enough of each other. It wouldn’t be uncommon to rack up close to twenty hours a week together. . .
I came across an interesting opinion on the matter in a book titled His Needs, Her Needs: Building An Affair-Proof Marriage. The author Dr. Willard Harley found a common thread in successful relationships. And it all had to do with time.
I studied couples who were dating, couples who had maintained romantic love while married, and couples having affairs. In all of these cases, I found that those who maintained their love for each other scheduled time to be together almost every day. While their daily time together varied, the time they spend each week was almost always over fifteen hours. During that time they had each other’s undivided attention, and they used most of it to engage in intimate conversation.
Based on these findings, and overwhelming evidence I’ve acquired since then, I tell couples that if they want to maintain their love for each other, they should learn to do what those in love are doing — set aside at least fifteen hours a week for undivided attention, where one of the primary purposes is to engage in intimate conversation.¹
Maybe you, just like many of Dr. Harley’s clients, think it’s crazy and you simply can’t make time for it. With work, family, activities, life. . .surely it can’t be possible! But as with any way we spend our time, it’s a choice. And it’s necessary for the health of your marriage.
Risks of not spending enough time together:
Becoming Business Partners
Becoming a Child Focused Marriage
Forgetting How To Enjoy Leisure Time Together
Someone Else Knowing Your Spouse Better Than You Do
Rewards of Prioritizing Your Relationship:
During weeks when Ben and I can spend time on more than just paperwork and appointments and have deep conversation, something changes. When we’re getting the “prescribed 15-hour plan” things are different. We’re more carefree, we feel secure in our relationship, and our satisfaction in the marriage increases. It’s because we’re spending time together, not just informing one another. We’re dreaming, laughing, and talking about things that matter to us. We feel like the best of friends.
It’s not always easy. On weeks that are busy, we have to make choices. Sometimes it means skipping out on social events, staying up past bedtime, or turning down other opportunities. . . But once we’re used to that precious time together, putting the marriage as our priority doesn’t feel like a sacrifice. We NEED the time together. Therefore, we WANT to pass others up in favor of our spouse.
And take Dr. Harley’s advice: Do what those who are in love are doing, and you’ll find great rewards in your relationship.
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¹. Harley, Willard F., Jr. His Needs, Her Needs. Grand Rapids: Revell, 2001. 80.