Most couples when they first start dating are free from the numerous responsiblities that come with marriage. Once married, your life can become complicated with careers, financial decisions, parenting, and balancing out other social relationships. What often gets left behind and neglected is being able to enjoy quality time with one another. When my wife and I met, neither of us had any idea how much life changes once you start adding all of these responsilbilities.
Our lives were focused on our jobs throughout the day but then we would have several hours each day where we decided what we wanted to do and how we wanted to spend the time together. We really had an opportunity to get to know each other and focus on growing as a couple. In Genesis 2:24 it states, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” The process of leaving and cleaving to one another helped us become stronger and taught us to become dependent mainly upon God and then each other for support and guidance, not our family and friends.
My wife and I fully enjoyed our first 3 years of marriage without children, but as many couples, the itch to grow the family and enter into the next chapter of life led to the addition of someone who demanded incredible time and compromised our time together as a couple. As a counselor I have dealt with many different types of couples and families. Each couple has differences in terms of their careers, financial situation, size of family, and leisure activities. All of these factors directly affect the amount of quality time the couple can spend together.
The advice given here is about the quality and quantity of time that couples should be spending with each other alone. The more responsibilities that each person has in their lives will determine how much more of a sacrifice has to be made to keep proper attention on your spouse. I have created the rule of 25-12-4 to help couples understand the importance of quality time together. Please keep in mind that these recommendations are meant to be a minimum in terms of quality time spent together. If you are fortunate enough to be in a situation where you can spend more time together, then certainly engage in more time.
- 25 Minutes a Day – Couples should strive to spend 25 minutes every day with each other of uninterrupted time. This means time actually communicating, either over the phone or face-to-face (not just watching TV or each person playing on their phones). If you have children teach them the importance of letting mom and dad have this time together or if necessary do it when the children have gone to bed.
- 12 Days a Year – Once a month, plan a day or night out together, just the two of you. It doesn’t have to anything too costly, but planning ahead for these dates together can give the both of you something to look forward to.
- 4 Times a Year – 4 times a year, try to take a mini-trip together as a couple. It could be as simple as going camping for a night, getting a hotel, or attending a marriage retreat. This is obviously harder for couples that have multiple children, but if you have the childcare resources, try to use them. Saving a minimum of $20-30 a month could help afford such a night away and cover the lodging costs. Again, having a trip like this planned keeps the excitement for couples and keeps the relationship fire burning for one another.
Michael Linn is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of Pennsylvania and a Nationally Certified Counselor. He is the owner of Resolute Counseling, located in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. He can be reached by calling 717-264-0450 or visiting www.resolutecounseling.com