Five Creative Ways to Make Quality Time With Your Romantic Partner by Initiating Traditions That Will Keep You Close, Cuddly and Connected
Relationship advice: Creative ways to make time for your mate
In a romantic relationship where both partners hold full-time jobs, it’s not always easy to build “us” time into the equation. The addition of children complicates the scenario even further, spreading thin a couple’s already taxed reserves of energy. The spontaneity that was once a giddy part of early courtship becomes virtually non-existent supplanted by a hierarchy of priorities that seem to cater to the wants and needs of everyone except each other.
Remember when you first met and felt those initial stirrings of attraction? If you’re like most people on the daring cusp of “This could be The One,” it probably felt as if there weren’t enough hours in the day to make phone calls, scribble love notes, steal away for impromptu lunches, and daydream about your next blissful moment together.
Chances are that you had just as many job responsibilities, extracurricular commitments and household tasks as you do now and yet somehow–for the pursuit of love–you managed to squeeze extra mileage out of your daily allotment of 24 hours. The good news is that those 24 hours are still available to both of you. The bad news is that if you don’t start designating some of them on a regular basis to the man or woman you love, you may be spending your future alone.
If you can’t remember the last time you had a date night with your mate or if you’re feeling the need lately to reconnect, the following tips will help keep romance No. 1 in both of your lives.
ONCE A WEEK & FOUR TIMES A YEAR
To keep a romantic relationship alive and vibrant, you need to plan weekly date nights and quarterly getaways with each other. Your weekly dates can either be full-fledged dress-up occasions or something as simple as pizza and a movie at home. The important thing is that you never invite kids, relatives, co-workers or friends to tag along, nor do you allow any interruptions for the time you have set aside to be with each other. Such mini-renewals are essential in keeping your passion on the front burner and affirming on a regular basis that your soul has found its twin.
You also need to budget the time for getaways every quarter, which can either be a romantic weekend or an actual vacation. Such getaways—besides being fun—serve the secondary purpose of taking the pressure off of the really big occasions in a couple’s lives. How many people do you know, for instance, who only take a vacation once a year—or less—in conjunction with an anniversary or holiday? Because their expectation is so high that the vacation will be 100% perfect, they end up grousing at each other the entire time and blaming the bad weather, surly waiters, congested traffic, etc. on each other. If they were to spend more time throughout the year getting away and enjoying each other’s company on non-special occasions, they would be in a more relaxed frame of mind whenever the big ones roll around.
TAKE A WALK
When was the last time the two of you held hands and just went for a walk? If you stop and think about it, the advent of motorized transportation over a century ago put more emphasis on reaching a destination than in enjoying the journey and each other’s company. When you and your beloved ride in a car somewhere, how much of the trip is spent in silence? How often do you deviate from your usual route to try something different? For that matter, do you ever refrain from pointing out interesting sights to your partner just because you know it’ll already be in the rear view mirror by the time he or she can focus?
Here’s an idea that will not only slow the world down to a leisurely pace for an hour or two but allow you to participate in a mini-adventure: go walking together.
Walking lets you see things you ordinarily miss when you’re driving. Shops that are usually a blur will now invite you to pause and browse. Cozy eateries you never knew existed will entice you with menus posted in their windows–menus that you can actually walk right up to and peruse. And don’t forget that you can always take a “kiss break” in the middle of a sidewalk!
The whole idea here is that a walk injects a “newness” in your relationship without spending a dime. With no one behind a wheel, it also means that neither partner is directing the course it will take. Did I also mention it’s good exercise? Pick a time that’s compatible with both of your schedules and commit to it.
THE COCKTAIL HOUR
The cocktail hour was an invention of the sophisticated upper crust to fill the awkward void between the sporadic arrival of one’s guests and the formal seating for dinner. Trendy beverages and “smart” conversation in private homes eventually segued to public “happy hours” at bars, a window of opportunity for singles to scope out the prospects and determine if any of them are worthy of a meal…or beyond.
If both you and your partner work during the day–or just need some quiet time to talk before a noisy family dinner–budget a daily “cocktail hour” for yourselves. Change into comfortable clothes and create your own mini-bistro in the backyard or at a small, occasional table in your bedroom. Put on some jazz, put out a small plate of finger foods, and spend some quality time putting the world on hold. Only two ground rules: (1) no arguments allowed and (2) no outside interruptions as you both decompress from a long day.
You’re never too old to learn new things…or ask your hugsman to carry your books to class. Is there a course you’ve both wanted to take at the local community college or recreational center? Maybe it’s art lessons or colloquial Italian. Maybe it’s tips on how to spruce up the backyard or a lecture by a popular author. Whatever it is that tweaks your mutual interest, make the commitment to sign up, get started, and stick with it. It not only gives you time together but new things to talk about. And hey, if it leads to making out after class, all the better!
If it’s inconvenient or cost prohibitive to make it to a regular classroom, consider the alternative of renting documentary or travel videos on subjects you’d both like to know more about. Designate one evening a week as your “school night” and take turns deciding what each class will be.
Back in the 1970′s, corporations embraced the notion that scheduling extended conferences outside the traditional office environment was beneficial in terms of team building and better communications. Sans coat and tie and lodged in a setting conducive to relaxation, it was thought that participants would bring their new found rapport with one another back to the workplace and accordingly be more focused and productive.
Offsites can also work wonders on romantic relationships, allowing a couple to get away from it all and explore feelings and memories that typically aren’t brought up on the home front.
An offsite can either be incorporated into one of your quarterly getaways or planned as a separate weekend. Ideally, it should be a place that can accommodate long walks, quiet talks and is minus the distractions of TV’s, computers, etc. The only item that should be on your agenda is to talk to each other. Here’s how to get started:
Each partner comes to the offsite with a list of three questions that they not only get to ask but will also answer about themselves. The objective is to really listen to the answers without interrupting or jumping in and imposing value judgments, allowing each of them to come away with a better understanding of how their mate sees the world and sees their relationship.
The following questions will get the creative juices flowing:
- What’s your earliest childhood memory?
- If you could be any animal, what would it be and why?
- When did you first know you loved me?
- Who were your heroes when you were growing up?
- If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
- What was the best/worst advice anyone ever gave you?
- If you were making a family time capsule, what would you put in it?
- What’s the best part of your day?
- Where do you think we will be 5/10/20 years from today?
- If you came upon an empty house, what’s the first thing you would do?
- If I could meet (or be married to) anyone in history, who would it be?
- What was your favorite fairy tale?