When you look back on your life, the experiences that have the most lasting impact on your life are the meaningful moments spent with those you love. While the details of each moment may be different, they all have one thing in common. There is a connection at the moment. It is the equivalent of emotionally holding hands if you will—a turning toward each other.
I asked 3 close friends to tell me what constitutes meaningful time together. The first one felt connected when they took time away from work and went away together. Most of us can agree we feel more connected with our spouses when we get away. That friend also found a connection in choosing shows to share in the evenings. Specific details of the show became part of their daily language bringing typical humor into the relationship.
The second friend felt time to connect without phones, movies, and tv was important. She enjoyed the lack of distractions where they could have intimate conversations. Sitting on the back patio after work, sharing a drink, enjoying the scenery, and watching their dogs play together. Riding their side by side through the desert.
The third friend felt that physical touch and affection made their time together more meaningful. He and his wife stay connected all day through texts. So, they are creating significant moments throughout the day. And All three said spending time with other couples was meaningful to the relationship. One friend said they like to see their spouse interact with the groups of friends because they enjoy seeing that side of them.
Notice that each person had different ideas, but they had one thing in common—a desire for meaningful connection. What you do in your time together is not as important as the ability to connect at the moment.
The problem is when couples think the only way to connect is on a big date or a big trip together. There has to be an event. I assert that if you aren’t having little moments of meaningful time to connect in the day-to-day, the connection on a date or a trip together may not bring the connection you expect. The little connections build over time and fuel those times that are “special events.”
Suppose the connection is only sought on fancy, romantic dates or getaways. What about a couple who struggles financially and can’t travel, go on fancy dates, or buy each other expensive gifts? Are they prevented from spending meaningful time with their spouse? Heck no!
The amount of money spent or the extravagance of the event has no bearing on meaningful time together. In fact, there are more opportunities than you can imagine having meaningful time together. Unfortunately, if we aren’t careful, we miss them.
Having meaningful time with your spouse doesn’t cost a dime, but it will cost you time and intention, but it is well worth the effort.
So let me give you my definition of meaningful time together. Both of you are fully present for each other and aware of the opportunity to connect on an emotional level. You show up for your spouse every time.
It doesn’t mean you have to talk about your relationship at every turn. It doesn’t mean you have to fawn over each other constantly. NOT AT ALL. And what makes you and your spouse feel connected is an individual preference. Like when one of my friends felt connected watching shows with their spouse, and the other wanted less of that. You and your spouse need a balance. If that is the only time you spend with your spouse, and that is all you do, you have to diversify. Shake up the routine.
We live in a fast-paced world that demands a great deal of us, and if we aren’t careful, we will waste some amazing moments with our spouses because we don’t prioritize our time with each other.
We get stuck in routines and tasks and don’t look for or put extra effort into nurturing our relationship with meaningful time. You are waiting for a meaningful connection, hoping it will happen, and unhappy when it doesn’t. Meaningful moments may come as a surprise at times, but most come with intention.
Meaningful time together is all about intention. So, how do we ensure that our time together is meaningful?
6 Steps to Meaningful Time Together
- Look at the time you spend with your spouse and ask yourself, “Are we making the most of our time together, or are we distracted and wasting it? Are we going in different directions and just roommates or business partners?
- Ask yourself, “What does meaningful time together look like to me?” Is it when your spouse joins you walking the dogs? Is it sharing in each other’s hobbies? Is it sitting down and sharing the details of your day? Take a look back at the meaningful times you have spent with your spouse. What was happening? Bring that back.
- Ask your spouse what they see as meaningful time together. It might be very different because it is very individual. My husband feels connected to me when I sit close to him while watching a show. Or touch him affectionately throughout the day. Yes, we have some common things that make us feel connected, but they aren’t always the same. You could ask, “What makes you feel most connected and close to me? You need to know how each other defines meaningful. Listen to your spouse and also share your truth.
- Be willing to step out of your comfort zone and do things differently. That may be asking, How can I facilitate connection with my spouse in a meaningful way to them. I knew a husband that loved to play golf. Several times he invited his wife to go, and she refused him every time. She thought it would be boring to watch him play golf. I suggested she take him up on it and ask him if he could play 9 holes instead of 18. She did. Her husband was shocked but visibly excited. They had a blast. She asked him questions about the game, and he was delighted to tell her. They talked about other things, laughed, and enjoyed the beautiful greens on a gorgeous day. At the end of the day, he told her how much it meant for her to show interest in his hobbies. She stepped out of her comfort zone, resulting in meaningful time together. You might need to tell your spouse you need time at the end of the day without phones and tv so you can talk about whatever has happened in your day and what is going on with you.
- Find the little moments of connection. There are so many moments that can become meaningful if you look for them. The remote connections matter! You can make your time more meaningful by being present for your spouse. By putting away the distractions that cause you to miss those opportunities. Focus on the “us.” Open your eyes and ears. Consciously choose to become more aware. Be interested and curious about what they have to say at all times, no matter if it seems interesting to you or not. Ask questions. It says, I’m here, and I care about what you are thinking and what is going on in your life. You can start with spending 15-30 minutes each day to catch up. No phones, no tv just for that period of time. I’ve watched couples start with this time frame, and it becomes longer and more meaningful as they practice it. It is so precious, and you’ll want more.
- And if you aren’t getting time together away from the every day, set a goal and date. Start saving and planning. We take weekend getaways about twice a year, just the two of us. And we choose to go on a date once a month. Don’t take your phones into the restaurant with you, and don’t go to restaurants with tv if you or your spouse get distracted paying attention to what’s happening on the screen. If you have different ideas for date nights, take turns being in charge of the plan. And date nights, by all means, do not have to be going to dinner. You can plan day dates on the weekends where you choose to do something fun for the day. But, please don’t use these as the only time you consciously make a meaningful connection with your spouse. When you spend meaningful time together regularly, connecting on dates and trips is more accessible and far more meaningful.
If you aren’t enjoying meaningful time with your spouse or feel bored or disconnected, now is the time to set an intention for your relationship. Have your spouse listen to the podcast or sit down and share that you would like to make your time together even more meaningful. I said more meaningful because if you tell your spouse you want to experience meaningful time together, they may take it that you aren’t enjoying your time with them. So, choose your words wisely. You can say, “I was listening to a podcast about making time together more meaningful, and I think we could improve our time together.” You can share an abbreviated version of the 6 steps or go to the show notes at reviveyourmidlifemarriage.com/84 and get the actual steps and talk about them.
When couples come to me, they know that what they have isn’t working, but they have no idea how to fix it. But, you know, ultimately, each partner wants the same thing even though they might not have the words to express it. They want to be intimately connected and close to their spouse. They want to be seen and heard. They want to experience the fullness of a deep love that is thriving and vibrant. There are solutions to those weaknesses in the relationship. Learn them and practice them until they become second nature.