A Therapist Explains Why It's Not Enough To Just Spend More Time With Your Partner

How you spend time with your partner is an telling indicator of whether you will work as a couple.

By Jourdan Travers, LCSW | November 15, 2022

Many people come to therapy worried that they may not be spending enough time with their partner. They ask questions like:

  • "My partner wants us to spend time together every day but I can't because of my busy work schedule. How do we overcome this?"
  • "My partner and I spend a fair bit of time together every week, but lately I've been feeling a little distant from them. Will making more time for each other help?"
  • "My partner loves to go fishing, but I don't really enjoy it. We don't get a lot of 'us' time, so when he asked me to join him I couldn't say no. Is this healthy?"

We know that spending time with our significant other is important. However, it is crucial to understand that there is a distinction between 'quantity time' and 'quality time.'

Quality time is all about giving undivided attention to your partner, whether you are on a walk, watching a movie, or simply sitting together. This is an important part of any relationship and it is necessary for maintaining intimacy.

Here are three science-backed tips to make the time you spend with your partner really count.

#1. Be present in your hellos and goodbyes

According to The Gottman Institute, we should be paying more attention to how we greet and part with our significant other. A simple gesture like warmly saying hello or goodbye to your partner allows you to pay attention to them and reminds them how important they are in your life. It shows that you are interested in their day and that they are cared for.

Psychologist John Gottman of The Gottman Institute suggests a six-second kiss. A mindful kiss, he says, has several benefits including reducing stress levels, building a ritual of connection, and boosting mutual admiration.

#2. Couples that play together stay together

A classic study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships found that the amount of time a couple spends together doesn't play a central role in relationship maintenance by itself.

However, what you do when you spend time together as a couple does reflect the level of satisfaction in a relationship.

Another study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family found that when wives involved themselves in a leisure activity that only their husbands were keen on, they reported feeling less satisfied in spite of the time they spent together. In addition, wives who were already dissatisfied in their relationship were more likely to go along with a shared leisure activity they didn't particularly enjoy in an attempt to deepen their connection with their husbands.

Use your time with your partner wisely, and ask yourself why you want to pursue a new hobby. Are both of you equally invested in pursuing this new interest? If the answer is no, go back to the drawing board and pick something that both of you will enjoy.

#3. Try to have sex at least once a week

Yes, sex is often a spontaneous activity and scheduling it may seem like a dreary task. But when the time you have to give to your partner is limited, it may be a good idea to slot in some between-the-sheets time.

While it is not a hard and fast rule, a study published in Social Psychological and Personality Science found that couples who had sex at least once a week were more satisfied in their relationship than couples who had less sex.

Physical intimacy is an important aspect of a relationship and has several benefits associated with it. As with kissing, sex lowers stress levels and boosts oxytocin, also known as the 'love' hormone. It can build intimacy, keep the spark alive, and improve mental and physical health.

Interestingly, the study also showed that couples who had more sex were not any happier than couples who had sex once a week. So, while sex can be fun and rewarding, there is no need to lose sleep over it.


Time is a limited resource. So, it makes sense to choose quality over quantity, especially when it comes to your intimate relationships. Whatever you do, make sure that you're making an effort to connect with your partner on a deeper level – it fosters intimacy, keeps the spark alive, and helps couples grow together.