(This amazing photo is used with permission by JMB Photography. Check out their facebook page!)
How do you think about time? Lately, a comparison between time and money has been on my mind. We each only have so much. There is some that we are obligated to spend, but we have some that we are free to choose how we spend or invest it. (Click here to read an earlier post I did about the importance of investing your time into your kids.) I am finding that when I think about time as an investment, I am much more likely to be happy with how it has been spent. When time is well spent, it becomes not just time, but quality time.
I know that as adults, we have tons of demands on our time. There just does not seem to be enough hours in the day. Sometimes it seems endless, like “Oh, I’ll do that tomorrow. There is always tomorrow.” The thing is, there’s NOT always tomorrow. At some point, our tomorrows run out and you will either look back and be glad that you invested your time the way that you did, or you will regret not having spent it a certain way.
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Time is a currency to be invested
Time is very much an investment. Sometimes you will not see an immediate payoff. The payoffs will not be visible until farther on down the road. When you put money into an investment account, the growth is not immediately seen. However, though there may be ups and downs along the way, the general tendency is growth if you have invested in the right things. The same is true for time. Quality time with your spouse may not always seem like it has an immediate payoff, but like all good investments, it will show growth in terms of drawing you and your husband closer together.
I choose to invest my time in attempting to serve the Lord, my marriage, my kids, my family, some self-care (more on that in another post) and blogging. Finding time for everything that needs attention is a constant challenge and juggling act, but it makes it easier when I think of it as an investment.
How much quality time to do you invest in your marriage?
Your marriage is the relationship that has the MOST impact on your life FOR life. My marriage is my primary earthly relationship. Without my marriage, I would not have my kids or the life that I am currently blessed with. How do you invest time in your marriage? Some of the specifics may depend on your spouse’s love language, but I will share with you what I have found works for me and my husband.
We are a bit unusual in the sense that our love languages are the same. Most often one spouse will have one primary love language and the other will have a different one. (I have a separate post on the 5 Love Languages or check out the book on Amazon) My husband and I both value quality time and words of affirmation the most. He jokes that I am low maintenance money and high maintenance time. J
10 Easy Ways Invest Quality Time in Your Spouse After You Start a Family
1) Text Each other during the day
I will be the first to tell you that my husband is way better at doing this than I am. I will usually get a text sometime mid-morning telling me that he loves me and is thinking about me. Sometimes it just says “I love you, Jennifer, and hope you are having a good day.” When you send your spouse a sweet text, using their name or a pet name that you always call them makes it more meaningful and is just a little tip to help make the message more personal.
My husband and I seem to live in vastly different worlds during the day and it is easy to get to feeling like I am all alone and disconnected from him. The texts that he sends me during the day are a huge pick me up. It tells me that he loves me, he is thinking of me, and he cares about me and my day. If I am having a bad morning or even if nothing is happening, seeing a text from him just gives me a warm fuzzy and that little extra “push” that makes it easier to get through the day. This is a great way to invest some quality time when there is not much time to be had. It lets you know that your spouse is thinking of you, even if they are not there.
2) Lunch Call
This is never a very long call. I think most of our lunch calls are between 3-5 minutes, but oh how I look forward to them! I love hearing his voice mid-day and hearing how he is doing and how his day is going. This is just another way that we stay connected during the day and help to make our “worlds” a little closer. Again, this one is quality time, even if it is only 3-5 minutes. It makes the day go by so much faster!
3) Eat Supper as a Family
I know that many families are busy running everywhere but I love eating supper as a family. Maybe I’m old-fashioned like that, but for us, it gives us a sense of togetherness and time to connect with one another and talk. Marriage should be a 3-fold cord (Ecclesiastes 4:12 reference): God, husband, and wife. When children are added they further strengthen the bond. I think it is important to make time for a meal together as a family as often as you can. It may be grabbing a burger at the local fast food joint and eating around the table there, but the important thing is the conversation that naturally bubbles up around the meal, and that it is something that you are doing together as a family. It gives a sense of “we’re all in this together,” which is one of the major benefits to quality time.
4) Snuggle/Physical Contact
Snuggling is a simple way to connect with your spouse. It lets your spouse know that you are there, you love them, and both of you are in this crazy thing called life together. There is something soothing and connecting about physical contact with another person and it is deeper with your spouse than with anyone else. Even when I am exhausted, I can usually rely on this one for quality time. There is something very relaxing about falling asleep on my husband’s shoulder.
5) Spent time together and communicate
The heading above says “communicate” and not just talk. Communication includes talking but it goes much deeper because it implies a mutual understanding. Some of the best times that my husband and I have had occurred when we turned off all electronics and sat on the couch. We naturally start talking and listening to one another. It started with me. I told him all that was on my mind and the things that were happening, and with his quiet listening and encouraging comments I poured out all my worries and concerns. And he listened. I don’t mean that he was just quiet and a million miles away. He was there, he was quiet, but he was engaged and listening to understand, not to reply or to solve my problems. (See my post on active listening here).
Sometimes, instead of me, it is his turn. Other times we sit and dream about what we would like to do or plan a vacation (fantasy or real) that we would like to take. Sometimes we reminisce or talk about the kids. We just let the conversation flow naturally. These are the times that we really connect and I feel like the time we have spent together are some of the best quality times we have. The conversations help to bring us closer, and we fall in love with each other all over again.
6) Run Errands Together
I married my husband for many reasons, one of which is because he is my best friend. There is no other person that I would rather hang out with. We may be going to Redbox together to get a movie, or Walmart to pick up a few things that we need. It doesn’t matter to me where we are going or what we are doing as long as I’m with him. Occasionally, we get the chance to run short errands together without the kids and we refer to them as “mini-dates.” This one may not feel as much like quality time as some of the others, but it is most definitely a good time investment.
7) Work on a Project Together
Life is not all fun and games (as I’m sure you know all too well). Sometimes spending quality time together can be working on a project together. My husband and I have done several projects together. Most of them are related to fixing something around the house. I will make a confession here: I HATE construction and fixing things! However, sometimes he had to have an extra hand, and I was the only one available. When we were younger, I was pretty cranky about it, but as we have been married longer, I started to value it as time together. Bonus: We fixed the things that needed fixing!
8) Try to Fulfill a Need
One of the most romantic things my husband has ever done for me was when we had a baby and a preschooler and I was absolutely exhausted. (Listen up, husbands, I’m about to give you a gem of an idea here!)
A Mommy Fairytale
I was empty, to the point that I was beyond tired and exhausted both physically and emotionally. My bucket was empty and I had nothing left to give. The house was a wreck and I was snapping at everyone. I was close to bursting out into tears from the overwhelming, and it was Saturday when things were supposed to be all happy.
He took the baby and told me to go to bed and take a nap and he would handle everything. This is the mommy version of when the knight in shining armor comes and rescues the damsel in distress.
The Mommy Fairytale Ending
When I woke up, I scarcely knew where I was. My children were there. They were happily snacking and watching tv. But the house….. This was not the house that I had gone to sleep in. This house was CLEAN. It smelled clean, it sparkled! The crumbs on the floor were gone. The dirty dishes piled in the sink were washing in the dishwasher. The smell of stinky trash was gone, replaced with the smell of cleaner. Was this MY kitchen??! What happened?
I was looking around in wonder and found my husband smack dab in the middle of it with cleaner in one hand and a cleaning towel in the other. To me, those two items looked like a sword and shield on my knight in shining armor. My hero! He greeted me with “Hi Love! How was your nap? I cleaned the house while you were sleeping.” Oh, baby! Come here and let me kiss you! And the Saturday was happy after all.
He saw a need. He fulfilled it, and it meant the world to me. Look to see if your spouse has a need that is not being met, and try to find a way to fulfill that need. It will be one of the most meaningful things that you can do for them.
9) At Home Date
Regular date nights out are wonderful and I am all for them! We enjoy them immensely when we can. However, we do not always have the time or the finances for them. Sometimes we find all our weekends obligated with other activities. Sometimes a babysitter or the funds are not available. However, we can usually find the time for a date night IN.
Our Favorite At-Home Date Ideas for Quality Time
We usually try to do this after the kids are in bed and what we do varies. We have laid outside on a blanket in the yard and watched for shooting stars. Other times it’s snuggling up on the couch for a movie that is not animated. You know, the ones with real live people in them?! I think our favorite thing to do is for my husband to pick up some sushi rolls from our favorite restaurant and have a late supper together after the kids go to bed. We usually do this on a Tuesday night because that is the night that they are discounted by 30%. Win!
We have dressed this idea up and down depending on how tired we are. If we want to be fancy, we throw the lace tablecloth over the card table in the bedroom, light a bunch of candles, break out the china, and dress up nicely. Other times, I have no make-up, sweatshirt, jeans, my hair is in a pony-tail, and we are eating off paper plates in the kitchen.
Whatever you decide to do, make it fun and come up with something that fits your personalities and interests.
10) Vacation as a Family
Even as a child, I loved family vacations. They were such good “together” quality time and it made memories together that I still cherish. Even if you just go camping as a family, you are making memories together. Something that I find helpful to remember while vacationing is that the things that make the best stories are not necessarily the things that you are laughing at when they are happening. I was not laughing when it rained for 3 days on our camping trip, everything in our tent was soaked and muddy and bucket loads of cold water spilled down my back as I exited the tent and bumped my head on the porch cover that had turned into a water reservoir. Now, it’s pretty funny, especially since we have a small camper.
Vacationing together helped with the communication between myself and my husband as well. I am a planner. He is spontaneous. Do you see a problem here? We could not go on vacation together without getting into an argument for the first 10 years we were married! Again, now it’s funny since we seemed to have worked things out. Had we not vacationed together, we might not have addressed that issue. We had to learn some give and take. That strengthened our relationship and I would not give anything for the memories we have made together while on family vacations.
Wow! You made it to the end! There are all kinds of amazing ways to invest quality time into your marriage. Some of them are quick and can be done daily with texting, lunch calls, snuggling, and eating supper as a family. Others are less frequent, like running errands together, working on projects together, setting aside time to communicate and talk, fulfilling a need, and at home dates nights. Others are special events to be looked forward to, like family vacations. Sometimes it is more fun to include the kids, other times Momma and Daddy need some time alone. No matter what you do, remember that your investment in quality time will have big-time payoffs. We only have so much time to spend. Invest it wisely. What are some of your favorite ways to invest time into your marriage? Happy Questing!
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