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If you are quarantined with a spouse, you might feel like you’re already spending enough time with them. Making space for quality time could feel redundant or unnecessary!
But there is a difference between just spending time together and spending quality time together.
Simply spending time together can be filled with things like working near each other, doing chores at the same time, reading in the same room as your partner is watching TV, etc.
Quality time is all about mindfully spending time together in order to show your appreciation & affection for one another, and increase connection and intimacy in your relationship. It means not just sitting in the same room at the same time, but actively choosing to make time for each other and for your relationship.
It is important to make that distinction when looking at the time spent with your partner. When was the last time you really spent quality time together? Have you felt a distance from them, even while you’re quarantined with them? This could be because the time you are spending together is automatic, or unintentional. It is not time set aside specifically to be with each other and focus on your connection.
So how can you spend meaningful quality time with a spouse while in quarantine?
The first step: don’t be spending every minute together.
It sounds counterintuitive, I know. But, even though we are social creatures, spending every second of every day with the same person (any person) is too much time. You need connection and social interaction, yes, but you also need space to decompress, and to be by yourself.
And decreasing the amount of mindless time spent together can help increase the quality of the time you do choose to spend together.
Obviously this is much harder in quarantine. If you live in a house with a yard you have more options! But if you live in an apartment or a small residence it might seem impossible to find ways to spend time apart.
Even though it’s tricky, it’s not impossible! Ways you can spend time “apart” even in close quarters include:
- Go for solo walks. One partner can take a walk while the other stays at home, and then you can switch!
- Use headphones when in the same room together. Create your own personal headspace, even when sharing physical space.
- Hang out in different areas of your home (even if they are still close together). Maybe one partner stays in the bedroom while the other is in the living room or the kitchen. Don’t spend your whole day in just one room, but making sure you have some alone time is key!
The next step is: make a clear agreement on when “quality together time” is.
It’s not going to be the only time you spend together, so both partners getting on the same page about when the mindful togetherness should be happening is key to making sure that time is quality time together.
Let your partner know you want to be intentional about the time you’re spending together. You can say something like: “I know we spend all day in the same place now anyway, but I feel like it has made us forget to prioritize our connection. What if we made sure to eat dinner together, and focus on being with one another during that meal, every day?”
You can pick any number of things to do together, but talk about it beforehand and make sure you’re both in agreement that this is how you want to be spending mindful, intentional time together.
What can you even do to spend quality time together in quarantine?
Unfortunately, in quarantine this is harder than what we’re used to. Normally if you wanted to make sure you had quality time with your spouse, you would probably plan a date night, or leave the house! Now, it’s all about figuring out how to differentiate between day to day space sharing, and quality time.
Luckily, with quality time, the thing that matters most is the intention.
Most activities can be “quality time” activities if you do them mindfully, and stay true to the intention that that time is for togetherness. These can include:
- Cooking a meal together. Pull out a cookbook and go through it together, and pick a recipe you are both excited about. Even if one person is a better cook, engage in the whole process together. Stay present with each other.
- Read together. Not separate books–pick something you both love (or something new!) and take turns reading aloud to each other. Notice how you’re feeling towards your partner, what the intimacy feels like. When you have an affectionate thought, say it out loud instead of just thinking it!
- Sit together without screens. You don’t even need to plan an “activity” just be together. Turn off your phones, put away your laptops, leave the TV off. Sit together and talk.
- Go for walks together! When you want to get out of the house, walk hand in hand with your partner around your neighborhood. Ignore the impulse to be on your phone, and just spend your walk focusing on your surroundings and your partner.
- Play a game or do a puzzle together. Find something creative or playful to do together!
If you’re still struggling with a strain in your relationship or disconnection due to the Coronavirus pandemic, you’re not alone. Grief Recovery Center in Houston, TX professional couples therapy and counseling, can help you process your current situation and find ways to cope.