Man and Woman DancingWilma’s head slowly droops towards her chest. Her eyes feel heavy and begin to close. She blinks several times and shifts position, fighting hard to stave off sleep. Suddenly she hears a low murmur emanating from the other end of the sofa. Fred snores complacently in-sync with the background noise of the television. The clock strikes nine o’clock and Wilma realizes another Saturday night has gone by and they have spent a total of 90 minutes all week engaging with each other and that time was mostly spent talking about the house, children, or careers. Sound familiar?

This is a pretty typical Saturday night for most couples. We want to spend time with our partner but life gets in the way. We work extra over time to complete a project at work. We help our kids with homework, chauffer them to practices, and sit through recitals. We do a million errands on our days off and wonder why we fall asleep in front of the television on Saturday night. In short we have put all our energy and time into other tasks, events, or people and simply have nothing left to give to our significant other.

Couples’ in harmonious relationships make time to connect with their partner every day. You might be thinking how can I do all those things described above and then some and find time to be engaging with my partner? Have you seen our schedule lately? It is definitely hard! Relationships in general are tough and time seems to be our worst enemy. Happy, healthy, and long-lasting relationships and marriages revolve around creating quality connection time with our significant other.

Most people equate connection with a date night or a romantic weekend get-a-way. Although that would be awesome if every week we could do a special evening out. The reality is, that takes a lot of planning, money, and energy to make happen. Since that is not an option we end up doing what we need to do for everyone else and neglecting the most important person. Our partner. We fall into patterns of comfortability. Instead of planning an outing we sit on the sofa, watch a movie, and fall asleep. Then one day our partner is complaining we never do or go anywhere and a huge fight erupts. Next thing you know you are sitting in marriage or couple’s therapy telling a therapist how your partner doesn’t understand your needs and you’re tired of all the nagging. Most couples who end up this way, don’t realize how their relationship got to this point.

To avoid this phenomenon we need to spend time every day connecting on a one-on-one level with that special person in our life. Connection does not necessarily mean talking or being entertaining. Connection is about being present, showing that one important person in your life that they are heard, cared for, and loved. It doesn’t have to be a huge grand gesture, just something that says I’m glad we are together. Think back to when you were first dating. The day couldn’t end fast enough because you knew you would be seeing your sweetheart later and you worked hard to make the time together special. Whether you have been married for 25 years or just dating the tips listed below will strength your bond and promote relational happiness.

Ten ways to create quality connection time:

1. Spend 15 minutes talking about something interesting you saw or heard:
At first reading this may sound hard or pressure filled to find something interesting to talk about. Surely between the car radio, social media, co-workers, or the boss we can find something to tell our partner. Why don’t we? Generally our first thought is our partner wouldn’t think it is interesting or funny. It’s not really about what you say, it’s about taking the time to engage with you partner. Discussing something other than the house, kids, or the car. We do this all day with strangers but forget to do this with our loved ones.

2. Send a thinking about you text and picture:
Our significant other pops into our mind a bunch of times during the day. We may even think how lucky we are that they are with us. Why not tell them that via text. Find a photo that reflects how you are feeling about them in that moment, put some nice verbiage around it, like, “this picture made me think of you,” and send it to them. Shortly, you will find a similar reply back or possibly your favorite dinner waiting when you get home. I’ll bet you could do this in five minutes or less.

3. Plan and cook a meal together:
We all need to eat every day. Why not plan, shop, and prepare the family meal together. A lot of good bonding time can happen while you are chopping up onions. The physical act of doing something you both need creates togetherness and reminds us why we fell in love with our significant other in the first place.

4. Sit together quietly and hold hands for ten minutes.
Touch is very important in relationships. Holding your significant others hand stimulates fibers in the brain that conveys feelings of warmth, happiness, and love. It also deepens trust. Fingers are the most receptive to touch because of the high number of nerve ends, so feeling someone else’s hand in yours heightens awareness and emotion. This is one of the best ways to connect with your partner. It doesn’t take a lot of planning. Spontaneity creates the deepest layer of connection.

5. Acknowledge and appreciate your partner’s heart:
Every day we notice little things our partner says or does. Generally we are really good about communicating things we don’t like. When was the last time we took a minute or two and said what we most appreciate about our significant other? What would it be like if you told your partner how much you appreciate the care and compassion they give each family member when they are sick or how their smile dissolves all frustrations and makes you feel excited and happy. I know you think this, so tell your significant other how they touch your heart. Maybe this is something that could be done at the end of every day before bedtime.

6. Slow dance in the living room to your favorite tune:
Remember how important it was to find the perfect first song to dance to at your wedding or the first song you danced to after becoming a committed couple? Take a moment and play or hum the tune. Dance around the living room or kitchen like it was the first time you danced to the song. The kids or friends might think you are being wacky but you are reliving an important moment in coupledom. Celebrate it!

7. Look at vacation pictures:
Shared experiences creates long-lasting connections. Just because it was ten months or ten years since you went to Maui, doesn’t mean you can’t relive the fun and excitement you had during the trip. Turn off all electronic devices, unless the pictures are on the computer, and take a stroll down memory lane. Giggle like you are a couple of teenagers.

8. Go to a café and make up a story about another couple in the café:
Sometimes we are sitting with our partner in a coffee shop and we don’t want to do small talk but don’t want to get into anything big. This is great opportunity to people watch and begin to make up a story about another couple, one you don’t know, and have your partner continue on. Take turns, get silly, and enjoy the moment. Connect over how creative or outlandish you can be.

9. Take a leisurely walk:
Whether you are exercising your mind or body doing a shared interest together automatically creates quality connections because you are focusing your attention on your partner and accomplishing something you both enjoy. Put the leash on the dog and head out the door. Within a matter of minutes you will feel closer to your partner simply by being in close proximity, even if you don’t say one word. Just being in each other’s space creates connection. Notice how you slow down or speed up to be in-synch with your partner.

10. Give your partner a huge hug for no reason:
Connection time skyrockets when we give our partner an unsolicited hug. Look for times and ways to embrace your honey bun.

All of the above ideas are great connection tools and didn’t take a lot of time, energy, or money. It’s easy to create quality connection time once you realize it’s the small stuff that makes the biggest impact. Remember to celebrate being in community with another person. Show them how you feel!