Quality time. Just the sound of those two words makes our hearts smile. Quality time when you have children. The sound of that leaves many of us wishing we had some quality time with our spouses. Still, for others, they want quality time with their spouses, but they feel guilty about scheduling a trip without the kiddos or even scheduling a date night.
Quality time is defined as spending time together while giving each other your undivided attention in a way that is important, special, or productive. So, whether quality time with your spouse is sharing a common interest, having sex, having deep conversation, it is something that makes your relationship special and can be achieved by just having some time together, alone. Couple times will increase the bond between you and your spouse.
You don’t have to leave your kids for two weeks while the two of you travel to a different country, although that would be heavenly! Here are some great dates for couples needing to reconnect which are no way related to the old “dinner and a movie” theme. Additionally, these ideas won’t break your bank accounts!
Think about the season when considering what to do or where to go for some quality time.
Winter: You can stay indoors by a fire or do something outdoors for a date. For instance, go ice skating or sled riding. There will be plenty of opportunity to touching while trying to help your partner skate, catching his fall, or piling on a sled together. Go for a walk (or drive) at night to check out holiday decorations on your street or in your town. Have a dinner by the fireplace, or just snuggle in front of the fire with a cup of hot chocolate. Make a snowman or have a snowball fight! Then tend to your partner’s wounds! Have an indoor picnic, complete with marshmallows. If you have the means and options for someone to take care of your kiddos, rent a cabin for a romantic weekend.
Spring: Take a walk through flower gardens or visit a greenhouse. Go on a bike ride or a hike in the mountains. Go to a street fair or farmer’s market. Browse all the fresh produce and flowers offered. Go to a baseball game or have a picnic with a bottle of wine and some sandwiches. Wait until evening and have your picnic outside, under the stars.
Summer: Have a water balloon or water gun fight. Make your own photo shoot in a nearby park or hiking trail. Fly kites together. Go canoeing or biking. Go to the beach. Have a picnic in your car at a scenic overlook. Go window shopping. Go to a drive-in movie theater. Make out like you’re a couple of teenagers.
Fall: Go to an orchard and pick apples together. Go to your high-school’s football game and cheer like a teenager! Go camping or to a fall festival of some sort. Have a picnic with some wine and chocolate, somewhere isolated from the rest of the world, or even in your own back yard.
Couples need quality time, throughout their relationship and marriage, in order to keep the relationship exciting and to remain connected. If you are not having at least a few dates a month, you are not doing everything you can to keep your connection strong.
There are other healthy habits that happy couples seem to portray. Whether it’s a front or not, it makes many of us envious of what they seem to have. When you see a couple that shares a good connection, they likely have these things in common:
Good Communication – This is the key to any great relationship. The good thing about communication is that you share your hopes and dreams, while also being able to talk about problems in your relationship. You can resolve issues quicker because you are already have established good communication. As part of communicating, don’t assume you know what your other half is thinking. Instead, ask. Make time for talking every day, even if it’s only 10 minutes in the morning or in the evening. This insures you know what’s going on in your partner’s life.
Hobbies/Interests – Happy couples normally have at least a few common interests. You don’t have to convert to all of your partner’s hobbies, nor does your partner have to convert to yours. However, having something in common, whether it be golfing, traveling, or fishing, will strengthen your relationship.
Physical Affection – Not only sex, but physically touching your partner keeps you connected. The mere act of holding hands, cuddling, or kissing shows that your relationship is important and you care about your partner.
Positive Attitudes – Be open and honest, always, and focus on positive things in your life. Surround yourself with other positive people and spend time laughing, a lot of time laughing.
The trick to the above listed items is to make sure you have all of these things, even when there are kiddos in your life. You need to nurture your individual self, as well as your relationship with your partner, at all times, even after you have children. It’s easy to get lost in the “Mommy” or “Daddy” mode. Make sure there is always time for you as an individual, and you as a husband or a wife. The best gift you can give to your children is for you and your spouse to have a strong relationship and a strong marriage.
There are a lot of magazine articles and self-help books written on how to keep the spark alive in your marriage once you have children. It’s obviously an important topic. Like anything, it’s important to go back to the root, to the beginning. That root would be the relationship between you and your spouse. All couples have to work to keep the spark alive. If you are struggling to stay connected, or have been disconnected with your spouse for far too long, realize that every relationship needs what some call the three “Ts”; namely, time, talk, and tenacity. The three “Ts” were named as a way to easily remember them. Some referred to these needs as, “time, communication, and determination”. Whatever you prefer to call them, your relationship has to have these three things to thrive and persevere.
Time – Finding time for your spouse, no matter what stage of your life, is of paramount importance to making your marriage work. This is true whether you are newlyweds, parents of toddlers, parents of teenagers, or retired people. Finding time to be together, just the two of you, is the key to a successful marriage.
Communication – There’s that word again. As much as this word appears in anything written about relationships, you can see the importance of communication in your marriage. If you don’t have time to talk, how do you handle problems, work on issues, or come up with solutions to problems with your kids or in your marriage itself?
Determination – This may be something many are missing when they are trying to work on marital issues. Enter your marriage knowing you are both in it for the long haul. Your marriage is not something to plan on for 5 years. It’s something to plan on for the rest of your life. In order to make something work for decades, you have to have determination. You will both change as you grow and age, and you both need to realize that and respect that. You need to commit to staying close and connected throughout your marriage, and your marriage (and your spouse!) need to be number one in your world.
Having a date night every week, every other week, once a month, or at whatever interval can fit into your schedules, will help you remain connected. It’s imperative that you both take these date nights seriously and do not let anything interfere with your scheduled dates. Do not sit at home and watch television, go somewhere fun, exciting, and/or romantic. If you can afford to do this once a week, great. If you can only afford it once a month, fine, but stick to it. Make it a priority in your life. Your marriage will be better for it, and your kids will be better for it because Mommy and Daddy are happy and fun again. Face it, without having fun every now and then, our lives are just lists of tasks or things that we want to cross off our “to-do” lists.
It’s important that you do not take your spouse for granted and that your spouse not take you for granted. If you absolutely cannot afford a sitter to have a date night, consider asking friends to switch off sitter duty every other week. Then, you have one weekend a month that you are on a date night, and one weekend a month you are tending to your friends’ child(ren). Having that arrangement costs nothing extra; you only have to cover the cost of your date. If you absolutely have to stay home, do it. But call it a date. The additional rule for having date night at home: Don’t fold laundry, cut the grass, or anything else that is a chore, during your date night.
If you and your spouse are having trouble knowing where to start, you may need to first go through a reconnection and look for a counselor to help you get there. The staff at the Relationship Center of Orange County are trained professionals who can help you work through the troubled spots in your relationship and get you on the right path to reconnecting, but showing you how to communicate, make time for each other, and enjoy each other. Call us today to schedule an appointment, or schedule your own using our online tool. It is amazing what a little coaching can do to restart your relationship and put you back on the path to success!