Sunday, January 11, 2009

Make Your Time Together Count

For most couples, time together was not an issue in the beginning of the relationship. Most couples experience an initial period where their priority and primary focus is the other partner and spending every spare minute together. This allows partners to get to know one another and to establish a bond that will form the foundation of their relationship in the years to come.

After this initial period of being practically inseparable, the demands of life begin to come into play and chip away at the time available for togetherness. Normal, healthy couples will begin to see their focus shifting from one another to the work, family and social obligations that have been put on the back burner while the couple established their initial bond.

While this partial shift in focus is normal and necessary, allowing other obligations and priorities to take precedence over your partner and your relationship to the point of neglect will negatively affect your marriage. Next to communication, time is the most important factor in maintaining - or rebuilding - a healthy, strong marriage.

Regardless of how long you have been together, or how busy one or both of you are, you absolutely must prioritize your marriage and place your relationship in the central position that it deserves in your life. Allot your time accordingly and keep in mind that there will never come a time when your partner or your marriage no longer needs your time and attention. Your marriage and your partner cannot thrive if they don't hold a primary position in your life and don't receive the time that they deserve.

In order to rescue a marriage in turmoil, or to make a good marriage even better, refocus your attention on your partner and your relationship and reemphasize their importance in your life. Think back to the beginning when your partner and your relationship were your main priorities and stave off feelings of neglect by reaffirming to your partner that he or she still holds that place of importance in your life.

With today's overly packed schedules full of work, family and social obligations, it is increasingly difficult for couples to find time to spend together without scheduling it in advance. This has led to the modern phenomenon of scheduled "quality time" that often entails forcing couple time into a predetermined time slot crammed in between other duties and activities.

While this so-called quality time is at least a step in the right direction, there are a number of problems with it. One of the most obvious issues is that a preset, fixed appointment for time together is quite simply not enough for any relationship. Also, if you have so many pressing engagements that you can only squeeze out an hour or two each week in between things that are apparently more important, your partner and your relationship will begin to show the signs of neglect. It is impossible for your partner to feel like a priority in your life if you can only afford to give up an hour of your time to be with him or her.

Of course, for some busy couples this may seem like the only option and you may have no idea how to find more time in your limited schedule. While preordained quality time may not be the optimum choice, if this is the only way you can make time in your schedule to focus on your partner and your relationship, then it may be the best option for you until you come up with a better solution.

However, all too often one or both partners are filling their schedules with not only the normal work and family obligations, but also allotting time for partaking in personal interests and hobbies, rather than spending time focusing on their relationship or their partner. When these partners cannot find time in their schedule and must designate quality time, they should take time to consider why it is that they are dedicating their time to individual pursuits outside of the marriage, rather than focusing on their partner and their relationship. It is imperative that these partners re-prioritize their partners and marriages and begin to give their relationship the time and attention that it deserves.

Once you have come to the conclusion that spending time together and focusing on your relationship is integral to the success of your marriage, consider how you want to spend the time that you share. And, keep in mind that just spending time together is not enough. There is a difference between spending time in the same room and actually doing something together. Simply being together in the same place is good, but actively engaging with each other is much better.

Even when selecting activities to do together, your choice of activities also affects the amount of focus and attention you give to one another. Some couples spend their time together engaging in activities that are focused on objects or people outside of the marriage, such as watching a movie, going to a dinner party, or going out to eat. These activities are great to do together and partaking in hobbies and social outlets are important for each of the partners and the relationship; however, these activities should not be included as a significant part of your couple time.

The time that you dedicate as your togetherness time, or couple time, should not include other people or distracting activities. This time should be dedicated solely to each other and to giving your time and attention to your partner to let him or her know that he or she is a priority in your life. This is what fosters open communication, intimacy and ensuring that each other's needs are met and that each partner receives the attention he or she deserves.

Time is one of the greatest gifts you can give you partner and your marriage. If your marriage is in need of repair, or could just use a bit of improvement, revise your priorities and your schedule and place your partner and your marriage in the central position they deserve.
Relationships are the key to have strong community. When relationships break down families break down, communities break down and children are scattered.