Ways to Give the Gift of Quality Time When Life Is Busy

When you're short on time this can feel like the most demanding of the 5 Love Languages, but it's so important to get it right.
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When you're short on time this can feel like the most demanding of the 5 Love Languages, but it's so important to get it right.

If you surprise me by cleaning my car, I’m smitten. And when I’m feeling a little lackluster, nothing springs me out of my rut more than a few gracious words or a sweet email. But that doesn’t do it for my husband.

Over the years of knowing my husband, I’ve slowly learned that he mostly needs to be shown affection through quality time—and although taking over dish duty when it's his turn is nice, he'd much rather execute the chore later himself and talk to me over a glass of bourbon while the dishes lie in the sink.

Dr. Gary Chapman, bestselling author of The 5 Love Languages, explains that there are five ways that people feel or receive love: words of affirmation, physical touch, receiving gifts, acts of service, and quality time. Knowing how loved ones receive affection is key when you’re trying to be an effective partner. Trouble is, like many people, I often fall into the trap of giving love in the ways that I prefer to receive it.

As two people each working a full-time job, time is a precious commodity, and it can be easy to fill it up with tasks or work. But because I want my husband to feel loved, I refuse to let a busy schedule get in the way. So, in an attempt to be more effective with my affection, I've discovered simple ways you can make quality time for your partner a priority—ways you can show him or her that you care, even when it feels like you have no time.

01. Plan Little “Events.”

This doesn’t mean you can’t still be spontaneous. When you’re married or in a serious relationship, “hanging out” can quickly turn into a monotonous routine, where you’re not so much spending quality time together as you are existing together at the same time. One way to take coexisting up a notch is to plan something in advance so that he can look forward to it. It can be as simple as taking BLTs to the park after work or biking together one Saturday morning. Taking the steps to initiate quality time will mean a lot, and the anticipation of spending time together will really make his day. After all, just because spending time together is expected doesn’t mean it can’t be intentional.

02. Just Be.

If you’re anything like me, you sometimes spend your nights scurrying around the house, busying yourself with really stupid tasks. (Think emergency sock drawer organization.) If he is a guy who treasures your time, executing these low-priority tasks when he is completely available to hang out with you can be really frustrating—especially if he hasn’t spent time with you in a while. If you have an opportunity to just “be” together, try and take it. Even if you’re only hanging on the couch, give him your undivided attention. Listen to what’s on his mind and talk about insignificant parts of your day. Your authenticity and thoughtfulness will mean a lot to him because ultimately, quality time translates to companionship.

03. Share Activities.

Before I married my husband, I didn’t really have the patience for crossword puzzles. But, when he started working on mini-crosswords every morning, he would routinely ask for my help. I finally realized this was his way of asking to spend quality time with me, so I began volunteering. Now, we’ve come to treasure these five minutes we share—and I know that even if the day gets the best of us, we’ve at least spent some time in the morning enjoying the little pieces of life together, which is what quality time is all about. Whether you’re just reading the news highlights or a funny Twitter handle out loud, or even praying or meditating together, finding something small you can connect with can really start or end the day on a loving, positive note—making him feel fulfilled and making you feel appreciated.

For those of us who have busy schedules, quality time can feel like one of the more high-maintenance love languages. Although picking up a little gift on the way home or filling up his tank of gas might be easier to work into your day, making space in your busy schedule for quality time is good for your partner and important for your relationship.