Have you noticed that spending time with someone creates a bond with that person? Maybe you’ve experienced it at work, playing sports, or by taking a vacation with your family. There’s something about spending time together with other people that connects us with them, whether we want to be connected with them or not.
Like everything else in life, connecting with other people has its advantages and disadvantages. One of the most important advantages of human connection is that married couples have the opportunity to experience relational fulfillment in a deep, intimate relationship with one another. But the natural connection which takes place between humans can also wreak havoc on our marriage. We can find ourselves bonding more with other people than with our spouse, causing us to feel very disconnected from the person we love the most.
If you want to have a successful marriage, then I would encourage you and your spouse to intentionally carve out time in your busy schedules to spend focused time with one another.
How Much Time Should You and Your Spouse Spend Together?
It depends. There’s no apply-to-all answer to this question. But in research conducted by Willard Harley, author of the best-selling book His Needs, Her Needs, he concluded that couples who maintain love for one another intentionally spend fifteen or more hours a week together. That’s a lot of time!
Does every married couple need to spend that much time together? Not necessarily since it depends specifically on you and your spouse, but of the married couples Willard Harley surveyed, the ones who were most satisfied in their marriages spend at least fifteen hours a week together.
How does anyone have time for that? Well, with everything else going on in our lives, we don’t. This is where we have to prioritize what’s most important to us. When Amy and I decided to start intentionally spending at least fifteen hours a week together, we also made the decision to give up some of the things we were doing, some of which were good things, but not things that were enabling us to spend the amount of time together we needed. That’s not to say that giving up things is the only alternative; we also found that we could do some of the things we were already doing, but do them together instead of doing them separately. If continuing to grow deeper in your relationship with your spouse is important to you, I’m certain you’ll both figure out a way to make time for each other.
Can You Spend Too Much Time Together with Your Spouse?
As with practically everything in life, there is such a thing as spending too much time with your spouse, not because it’ll cause you to get on each other’s nerves, but because it can result in neglecting other important parts of your lives such as time working, with kids, friends, and family.
Amy and I have experienced seasons of our lives where we spend an excessive amount of time together, which has been extremely helpful for our marriage, but has resulted in distancing ourselves from some of our closest friends. Although our marriage relationship should come first, these other relationships are also an important part of our lives which we don’t want to lose.
What Are Some Ideas for How You Can Spend More Time with Your Spouse?
If you’re anything like us, spending fifteen hours a week sitting across the room from each other to talk about your day will get boring really fast. What we learned is that it’s helpful to mix up the things we do together. One way a lot of people seem to bond is through doing activities together, so why not find some activities you can both do together? Here are a few examples of things Amy and I do together that may help get your creative juices flowing:
- We go for walks together
- We go fishing together
- We play tennis together
- We watch movies together
- We play video games together
- We go to live sporting events together
- We clean the house together
- We go kayaking together
- We do things that husbands and wives do together when they’re alone in their bedrooms 😉
Do we both enjoy all of these activities? Not exactly. I don’t particularly like watching movies, especially if the movies are chick-flicks, but Amy likes watching chick-flicks, so I sacrifice sometimes and watch movies with her. Amy doesn’t particularly like fishing, but she sacrifices sometimes and goes fishing with me. There’s virtually nothing on the list that we enjoy doing equally, but we’ve both learned how to do things we may not necessarily want to do, but can do in order to spend time with each other.
Intentionally spending more time together has resulted in us cutting back on some of the activities we used to do that we couldn’t or didn’t want to do together. For example, I stopped playing all competitive sports except for hockey in order to spend more time with Amy. Likewise, Amy stopped doing some of the after-work activities she was involved with in order to spend more time with me. Neither playing sports nor engaging in after-work activities were bad activities; they simply weren’t as important as spending time together. We’ve learned that it’s not about what we do, but about who we do it with.
Regardless of how you and your spouse decide to spend time together, the principle here is to spend lots of time together doing things that you are both agreeable to doing. You’ll be amazed how much more connected you’ll feel to your spouse.
How much time do you spend with your spouse on a weekly basis? If you’d like to spend more focused time together, what things can you change in your life to encourage spending more time together?