1. How much time do you think is optimal for us to spend together as a couple?
Our time together as a couple is often dictated by the other demands in our lives—work, children, and the basic tasks of daily life. Sometimes we allow these demands to encroach on time we should devote to spending with our partner. One of you might desire more “together time” than the other, or you both might enjoy time alone and neglect to reconnect as often as you should in order to maintain close communication and intimacy. Discuss together the ideal amount of time you’d like to spend together, and what is getting in the way of your spending time together.
2. On a typical day, how would you like us to spend time together?
Have either of you taken the time to consider how you want to be together as part of your regular routine? Do you wake up and rush out the door, or do you enjoy a cup of coffee together in morning?
Do you make time to talk on the phone during the day? Do you carve out time in the evenings, even when it’s hectic, to reconnect and share the details of your day? Discuss together how each of you would like to spend time as a couple during the day and what needs to change in order to make that happen.
3. How much time do we need to spend talking about our relationship?
If you are working through this book together, you are spending a lot of concentrated time talking about your relationship. But once you finish this process, how often do you want to discuss the health and joy of your relationship? Discuss how often you want to check in with each other to work through issues, discuss your relationship goals, and define ways to strengthen your relationship.
4. How much time is optimal for us to spend going out and having fun?
A vital part of intimacy is shared fun. The two of you need to connect in joy and play rather than focusing on serious or day-to-day matters constantly. Discuss what each of you considers to be fun activities, either at home or outside of the house, and how often you want to enjoy these activities. You might differ on what you find fun, but create a system to accommodate each other so you show your partner you’re willing to step out of your comfort zone.
5. How much alone time do you need?
One of you might be an introvert or highly sensitive person and require more time alone in order to recharge or regain emotional balance. Introverts tend to crave more time alone than extraverts, so if you are a “mixed” couple, discuss the unique needs each of you might have related to togetherness. How can you find balance in the relationship so you both get your needs met for time alone and together? Understanding why your partner needs time alone can help both of you feel better about being apart when necessary.
6. What triggers you to crave time alone?
Sometimes we need time alone for creative thinking, brainstorming, problem solving, or to calm down after conflict. If we’ve been driving in traffic or have spent a long day tending to children, we might need time to ourselves to relax. Each of you likely has certain triggers than make you want to be alone. Share these with each other so you both understand when and why your partner might need a break.
7. How can I let you know I need alone time without hurting your feelings?
When your spouse disappears and closes the door or decides to go for a walk without you, it can feel like a rejection. Even the closest couples need time away from their partner, but it’s often hard to communicate this need for fear of wounding the person you love. Discuss how you can communicate your need for alone time in a way that doesn’t trigger hurt feelings.
8. If we differ on the amount of time we need alone, how can we compromise?
You might need an hour after work by yourself to decompress, while your partner craves some time with you to talk and share the events of the day. What do you do? How do you both get your needs met without one or the other feeling like they are giving up something important? Brainstorm ways you can work through these specific differences so that it’s a win-win for both of you.
9. How are we allowing our children, work, or other distractions or commitments to compromise our time together?
In order to really spend quality time together, you must prioritize this special time. You can’t allow other people or distractions to pull you away from each other. Does this happen in your relationship? How are these interruptions compromising your time as a couple? Discuss the most common disruptions you’ve been allowing to creep in to your sacred time together.
10. What are some specific actions we can take so we can enjoy more time together?
Now that you know what has been pulling you apart or interrupting your time together, think of ways you can correct or change these situations. Do you need to create new rules for your children? Can you turn off phones, computers, and other electronic distractions? Do you need to leave the house so you aren’t tempted to work on tasks or housekeeping? Write down any ideas you might have and how you plan to implement them.
Follow-up: Are there any behavior adjustments you’d like to request from your partner related to spending time together or being alone? What specific action steps will you both take to improve your quality time together and understanding of each other and yourselves related to your needs for alone time? Write these down and determine how and when you will initiate these changes or actions.