***This is the third post in a series of 6 about the Five Love Languages in marriage. I suggest reading them in order. Part 1, Part 2
I remember when my husband and I were dating I used to love to go out to the ranch with him and watch him ride and train horses all day. I could spend an entire day just watching him, helping him clean up and feeding the animals. Sometimes we would ride together and we could just sit and talk for hours. I was interested in his work and wanted to be a part of it.
Soon after I became pregnant for the first time, I quit going to the ranch with him. In the beginning it was because I felt miserable and unless I had to go to work, I rarely left the bed. After I had our son, it was because I literally felt I couldn’t find the time. As time has gone on, life has gotten busier and busier. With two kids and two jobs, I have completely abandoned that activity we used to do together and it is one of my husband’s biggest complaints. I should have seen the signs that he was crying out for quality time.
The love language Quality Time is about giving your spouse your undivided attention. That means without looking at the TV, your phone, or thinking about work. It is about giving time in your life, that you will never get back, to your spouse. For some people, this is how they know you love them, if you are willing to put everything aside and be with them.
What are the different dialects?
There are two main forms, or dialects, for the love language Quality Time.
1. Quality Conversation
If your spouse is craving quality conversation, your number one job is to learn how to actively listen. Many times during a conversation our mind wanders to how we can relate to what the other person is saying and how we want to respond. It is critical that we learn how to listen, actively, and make sure we understand what the other person is saying.
Of course, quality conversation is more than just one sided. Usually the spouse whose dialect is quality conversation will have a desire to hear what you’re thinking and feeling as well. It is important to be willing and open to these kinds of expressions. To this person, true intimacy is achieved through deep conversations and true understanding of one another.
2. Quality Activities
According to Dr. Chapman there are only 3 important factors in choosing quality activities: 1) at least one of you wants to do it, 2) the other is willing to do it, and 3) you both know why you’re doing it. That doesn’t mean that you always do what your spouse wants to do. If this is his love language, it is more likely that the time he spends with you is more important than the activity. So be open to a little give and take. Be willing to try new things or do things you know you don’t necessarily enjoy but would make your spouse happy. Then throw out ideas you would enjoy and you think your spouse might be willing to try.
The great part about this love language is that you are building a memory bank. I will never forget the night I took my husband out to the ranch late one summer evening to watch a meteor shower. We sat there for hours and talked about space and time and God. It was absolutely incredible and we learned a lot about each other that night. I also won’t forget our anniversary trip last year when we went window shopping and found that art gallery with paintings that looked like our 2-year-old daughter had made them. We now have several inside jokes about that trip that we continue to laugh about. It is so important to make memories with your spouse and if this is his love language, it will mean more to him than all the declarations of “I love you” in the world.
How can I know if this is my or my spouse’s love language?
Dr. Chapman offers a few different ways to check if this is either your or your spouse’s love language.
1. Do either of you express love in this love language? Does your spouse often suggest activities you could do together? Is date night a big deal to you and you want to make it a priority? Do you notice that your spouse likes to take you places or seems to enjoy chatting with you at the end of the day? If being together seems to be very important to either of you, Quality Time might be your love language.
2. What are your complaints like? Does your spouse complain that you never spend any time together? Do you often complain that your husband cares more about work than spending time with his family? Does he get on you for being on your phone all the time when you’re together? These are surefire clues that one of you feels quality time is important and not being made a priority.
3. What kinds of requests do you make? Have you heard your spouse say, “I would really appreciate it if you would put your phone down when we’re talking”? Or have you noticed that you often mention to your spouse that it would be fun to go somewhere, just the two of you? These simple requests are often saying more than just what appears on the surface. Your requests often reveal what you’re longing for.
How can I express it?
So let’s say you have discovered that your spouse’s love language might be Quality Time. How do you speak it then?
Here are a few ideas:
• Think back on your relationship and remember some of your best memories together. What were you doing? Where did you enjoy going? For someone whose love language is Quality Time, when you stop doing those things, it can be especially hurtful. Try to bring some of that back through quality activities with your spouse.
• Make date night a top priority and make sure your undivided attention is available to him. This means, the only phone calls you take are from the babysitter in case of an emergency. There is no facebooking, pinteresting, texting, or working. It is just you and him doing whatever you guys like to do.
• As an extra bonus, make a habit of setting aside a little money with each paycheck as your “date stash.” When money isn’t an excuse to not go somewhere, you are much more likely to make it happen.
• Not all quality time requires money. There are loads of things you can do for free, without even leaving your house. Make a list of free activities you and your spouse can do after the kids go to bed. Try something more engaging than watching a movie. Playing cards or another game can be a blast when it’s just you two.
• Try to keep a balance between what you like to do and what he likes to do. For an extra dose of love, make it an activity he enjoys that you rarely participate in. He will feel your sacrifice and that speaks louder than any other form of love to him.
• Make some time, each day, to just talk without distractions. My husband and I usually end up doing this after the kids go to bed. We can sometimes talk for hours. I always notice that we get along so much better when we make this a priority. It always pays off when instead of heading straight to bed, I make myself available to him for some one-on-one conversation.
So what if you feel like your spouse isn’t really responding to your quality time together? The most likely answer is that it isn’t his primary love language. If this is the case, check out the last post about Words of Affirmation and stay tuned to the following weeks as we study the other love languages.
If you’re sure it is his primary love language but he still isn’t responding, there may be more going on. If you have struggled in your marriage for a while, it is possible he is interpreting your kind words as manipulation. He may believe the marriage is over and it’s too late. Either of these options doesn’t have to mean the end of your marriage. Stay consistent in expressing love in the language that means the most to him, without expectation of receiving anything in return. Do this for an extended period of time, Dr. Chapman suggests at least six months. It is hard to maintain a cold heart when a person is loving you, in the way you understand and appreciate, without conditions.
If you’re still on the fence about whether or not Quality Time is your husband’s primary love language, try an experiment. For an entire week (or more if needed), try some of the above mentioned ideas for ways to express love to your spouse through spending time together. Do at least one every single day. Do it with the desire to make him feel your love, without expecting anything in return.
These don’t have to be elaborate dates. Sitting near him while he fixes the car, chatting at the kitchen table, playing a game together, all these small things add up. Make a note on your phone to write down your observations. If there is a drastic shift in his attitude, you’ve probably found a winner. If not, stay tuned and learn about the other love languages to see if there is one better fitted to your spouse.
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Is Quality Time your love language? Or your spouse’s? I want to hear about it! How do you feel loved? How do you express love through quality time?