Quality time is offered as the solution to many marriage problems. Can a relationship survive without spending time together? Maybe! But it still requires connecting with each other.
Many couples feel their marriage is in jeopardy and they struggle to survive. In this series, Can A Marriage Survive, we address the key questions on how a marriage can survive the big issues of life.
I’m sure you’ve read stories of people who fell in love before ever meeting each other face to face. While some may say it’s not possible, history records some of the greatest romances of all time were of couples who got to know each other by writing letters. They exchanged letters, poems, and lyrics and eventually grew to love each other deeply. All before seeing one another face to face.
Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning are a fitting example of this truth. Though they did spend time together, much of their romance was in the exchange of letters, poems, and sonnetts.
Perhaps you recognize Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s words about Robert:
How do I love thee?
Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace…
Perhaps the greatest romantic relationships of this nature is F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda Sayre. They wrote thousands of letters to one another. Yes. Zelda’s letters alone rank in the thousands. They were both filled with passion, admiration, and deep love for one another.
You can read their story in their own words in the book, Dear Scott, Dearest Zelda: The Love Letters of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald (Find it on Amazon)
What is my point in all of this? Simple. Can a relationship survive without spending time together? Sure. If. And this is a very big ‘if.’ A couple can grow in love if they share their hearts openly with one another.
With that said, I do agree, this is much easier done in person than over the internet, through writing letters, or talking on the phone. Face to face is still the best way to connect and get to know one another.
The Myth of Quality Time (Sort-of)
Quality time is a myth! Kind-a, sort-a.
There is definitely an advantage of having quality time with your spouse. The more impactful our time together, the deeper the bond. This is why people who experience trauma with other people develop a close kinship with them. They share something in common that links their hearts together.
Our Move To Colorado
For example, several years ago we moved to Colorado (we are back in Tennessee now). During our time away, we only saw family once a year (unless there was an emergency). We found that our time was more enjoyable (I hesitate to use that word but it’s the best I can come up with), mainly because we knew our time was limited. So we squeezed every bit of fun, connection, and bonding we could.
It reminds me of the old saying, ‘Absence makes the heart grow fonder.’ I think this is true in many cases. Of course, like all things, there are exceptions. But the general rule is, when we know our time is limited, we tend to focus on the things that matter most.
So, does this mean the quantity of time (how much time we spend with each other) doesn’t matter? Of course not.
Studies show that the more time we spend together, the stronger the bond becomes. We bond over little things because we spend so much time together.
This is why co-workers who spend 40 plus hours a week with each other, find things they have in common and develop friendships.
The bottom line is quality time helps us value the time we have together, so it’s important. But quantity of time allows us to grow deep connections simply because we share all aspects of life together.
It’s not all about the quality of time you are together; sometimes it’s about the fact that you are together.
I advise couples to plan quality time events together. Build into your schedule times for romantic nights, fun vacations, and family game nights where you laugh and squeeze the life out of your time together.
But don’t overlook the value of just being together. No agenda. No plan. Just being in each other’s presence. These times will help you share everyday life, which builds strong heart connections.
You may also want to read: 10 Low Budget Bonding Activities For Couples
5 Ways To Use Time Together To Actually Make Your Marriage Better
It’s no secret that spending time together is important for a marriage. What many people don’t realize, however, is that how we spend that time is just as important as the quantity. In order to create a stronger, more connected relationship with our spouse, we need to focus on quality over quantity. Here are three simple ways to do just that.
#1: Hear, Don’t Just Listen
There is a big difference between hearing and listening to what our spouse is saying. When we listen, we are simply waiting for our turn to speak. We might be nodding along, but we’re not really taking in what they’re saying.
Hearing and listening are two very different things. When we are merely listening to our spouse, we are simply waiting for our turn to speak. We might be nodding along, but we’re not really taking in what they’re saying.
On the other hand, when we tune in to our spouse and really hear what they are saying, we are trying to understand and find out how we can help. We are fully present in the conversation and we are not thinking about what we are going to say next. This can be a difficult skill to master, but it is so important in a marriage.
When we take the time to truly listen to and hear our spouse, we are showing them that we care about them and that we want to help. This can go a long way in a marriage.
Our goal in ‘hearing’ our spouse is to really understand them (empathy) and seek to connect on a deeper level.
#2: Scale Down Social Media
Social media can have some pretty adverse affects on our ability to connect with others. We get so wrapped up in our own little world that we forget to pay attention to the people who are right in front of us. If we want to focus on our relationship, we need to scale back on social media and make more time for our spouse.
We all know that social media can be a time-suck. It literally robs you of hours you could be doing something productive.
If you’re not careful, you can easily find yourself scrolling through your feed for hours on end. And, let’s be honest, most of what we see on social media is hardly the stuff of real life.
But social media doesn’t just steal our time away from family and friends. It can also lead to some pretty serious emotional consequences. Studies have shown that social media can cause depression and anxiety, and that it can desensitize us to real-life relationships.
If you’re looking to connect with your spouse on a deeper level, it might be time to scale back on your social media use. Spend less time on your phone and more time talking, laughing, and just being together. When you’re married, that time spent on social media is time that you could be spending with your spouse.
If you want to scale down your social media usage, here are a few tips:
First, set reasonable limits for yourself.
If you find that you’re spending more time than you’d like on social media, set a daily or weekly limit for yourself. This will help ensure that you’re making time for other things in your life, including your relationship.
Second, take breaks from social media.
If you feel like you’re glued to your phone or tablet, take a break and go do something else. Go for a walk, read a book, or just spend some time talking to your spouse. The important thing is to focus on the things that are most important to you.
Third, make a social media contract with your spouse (and children)
Couples who create a contract on how and when they use social media are more likely to rank high on the marriage and family satisfaction scale. We recommend a few apps and tools to regulate your screen time.
Finally, don’t compare your relationship to others’.
Social media can give us an unrealistic view of other peoples’ relationships. Everyone has their own problems and challenges, so don’t compare your marriage to what you see on Facebook or Instagram. Appreciate what you have and focus on making your own relationship the best it can be.
#3: Look Each Other In The Eye
In a society where we are constantly bombarded with images and messages, it’s easy to feel disconnected from the people around us. But there is one simple way to connect with the people you love: eye contact.
Studies have shown that looking into each other’s eyes increases feelings of connectedness and closeness. When you look into someone’s eyes, it demonstrates that you are interested in them and want to connect with them. This is especially important in our relationships.
Making eye contact with your spouse is a sign of confidence and comfort. It’s a way of saying, “I’m here for you.” It shows that you are present in the moment and interested in what they have to say. And when you share a moment of eye contact, you are connecting on a soul level.
Research at Duke University suggests the eyes are how we establish connections of intimacy.
Eyes intensify expressions of warmth and empathy, as well as hostility and aggression (Ellsworth & Carlsmith, 1968). Recognizing this, psycho- therapists have begun to emphasize the intimacy value of eye contact.
Further research shows that making eye contact is one of the most important things we can do to deepen our connection with others. When we look into someone’s eyes, we are sending the message that we are interested in what they are saying.
We are present in the moment, and we are fully focused on them.
An interesting study by xxx shows how couples who did not know each other, fell in love by simply answering a specific series of questions while looking each other in the eyes. We wrote about it here.
#4: Ask Each Other Questions
Questions allow us to explore each other and discover more about our partner. According to Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner, questions give us permission to learn.
“Once you have learned how to ask questions—relevant and appropriate and substantial questions—you have learned how to learn and no one can keep you from learning whatever you want or need to know.”Source
I attribute the success of my marriage to our willingness (and ability) to talk about anything and everything. Our lives revolve around questions. We are both curious and love to find out what makes each other tick.
If you have trouble knowing how to ask questions, I recommend the following tools.
Just to be clear, we are affiliates for Amazon, so we do get a commission if you purchase through our links. The commission does not affect the price you pay.
Questions For Couples (book)
This book has over 700 questions in a wide variety of categories. Pick a category, and start asking your spouse questions.
Let’s Dig Deep: The Relationship Game
If you prefer a game format, this is right up your ally. It’s fun and can be played with only two people (which is perfect for a night at home with your spouse).
These cards have questions most other games and tools don’t have. Great if you want to really explore your partner and discover more about them. Designed to strengthen your relatonship.
1000 Questions For Couples
This collection of questions are the same ones that caused couples to fall in love even though they had never met. It’s quite a story. You can discover the 36 questions that were used, plus almost 1000 more. Each designed to develop intimacy in your relationship.
We also have other resources available in our Marriage Toolkit.
#5: Tap Into The Power Of Touch
A strong marriage requires a deep emotional connection and physical touch is one of the most important ways to maintain that connection. When you physically touch your spouse, it releases oxytocin, the “bonding hormone” that helps create an emotional connection.
Physical touch also helps to reduce stress and anxiety, and it can increase feelings of happiness and well-being. In fact, research has shown that couples who have a healthy sex life are more likely to report higher levels of satisfaction with their marriage.
Of course, physical touch isn’t just about sex. It’s also important to show physical affection in other ways, such as holding hands, hugging, and cuddling. These simple acts can help to build intimacy and closeness in your marriage.
If you’re not used to being physically affectionate with your spouse, it may take some time to get comfortable. But it’s important to make the effort, as physical touch is a vital part of a healthy marriage.
You may also want to read, Emotionally Connecting With Your Spouse: 6 Tips To Help You Create Deeper Connection
Tips On How To Survive A Long Distance Relationship
Maybe you are in a long distance relationship and wonder how you can maintain connection and keep the relationship from disintegrating. The five tips mentioned above can point you in the right direction, but here are a few practical things you can do to stay strong in your relationship.
When we lived in Colorado, I had the privilege of pastoring a church composed mostly of young military families. We fell in love with them. They became our adopted kids.
Since many of them were deployed at various times (for many months at a time), we learned how they connected in spite of the difference in time zones, geography, and circumstances.
Consider these for starters:
- Write love letters to one another and send via snail mail
- Have weekly Skype or FaceTime dates
- Send each other photos and videos throughout the day
- Make a joint playlist of your favorite songs
- Create a shared online photo album
- Watch the same movie or TV show at the same time and chat about it afterwards
- Start a blog or podcast documenting your long distance relationship journey
- Play online games together
- Cook the same meals and share photos
Get creative and think of ways you can share the little things of your life with your spouse.
What If My Spouse Is Neglecting Time Together?
Any time we address the issue of quality time (or time together as a couple), one question always comes up: What if you are in a situation where your spouse doesn’t want to invest in the relationship; is it possible to survive if one partner chooses not to invest time or energy in the marriage?
Since the essence of marriage is built around connection and shared life, it is almost impossible to ‘make it’ as a couple if one partner abandons you emotionally or physically (by not being there for you).
Marriage is a partnership in life. When one partner withdraws from the partnership, the marriage ceases to be a true partnership.
There are things you can do to help. You need a game plan. You must understand what to do in your specific situation. Our #1 recommendation for this type of marriage crisis is the ‘Save the Marriage System.‘
It is practical, and offers step by step strategies to move your marriage in the right direction.
In this article, we answer the question, ‘Can a relationship srivive without quality time?’ That answer is complicated. It all depends on how you define quality time, and the investment you are willing to make in your marriage.
Quality time is important. But so is quantity time. Yet, being together doesn’t necessarily require physical location. It helps. It’s easier when you can literally be together. But it is not required.
If you take the steps mentioned in this article, and find creative ways to stay connected, your marriage can continue to grow even if you are not able to be together every day.
- The Myth of Quality Time (Sort-of)
- 5 Ways To Use Time Together To Actually Make Your Marriage Better
- Tips On How To Survive A Long Distance Relationship
- What If My Spouse Is Neglecting Time Together?
We have resources available to help you create the marriage you desire and deserve.
The Healthy Marriage Quiz
If you want specific help for your marriage, or you want to know your healthy marriage score, take the marriage quiz. You’ll get immediate access with suggestions on how to improve your relationship.
The Healthy Marriage Toolkit
Books, Courses, Programs, and Tools designed to help you create the marriage of your dreams.
Five Simple Steps Marriage Course
Marriage doesn’t have to be complicated. In this 5 part mini-series, you’ll discover practical steps to redesign your marriage.
Healthy Marriage Academy
Our courses will help you build a strong marriage. Each course is designed to meet a specific relationship need.
If you are having serious marriage struggles, we recommend starting with ‘Save the Marriage System‘ by Lee Baucom.