Feel like you're losing touch with your spouse? Here's how to reconnect and keep the spark alive!
By: Kel Tan
Ask just about any happy couple, and they'll tell you that quality time is the secret to a successful relationship.
But what exactly is this somewhat ambiguous concept of “quality time”, you ask? Fundamentally speaking, this is time during which you dedicate your full and undivided attention to your spouse, without worrying about other responsibilities.
In this day and age, many things compete for our attention – from our busy careers to our social media feeds, and even our own children. This makes it even harder to keep track of our own lives, much less that of our spouse's.
“The amount of couple time inevitably changes according to your life stage. For instance, if you have young children, you can expect to have less couple time, as much of your attention will be drawn to caregiving,” observes Mrs. Helen Lim-Yang, work-life expert and board member of I Love Children
“However, spending quality time with your spouse is still essential, as it helps both of you to stay emotionally connected.”
As such, the need to bond with our better halves on a deeper level becomes even more pertinent. Start doing so by taking these six simple tips.
Build couple time into your schedule
Couple time spent should be a regular, not rare, occurrence. It's possible to carve out couple time even if you have the most packed of schedules; after all, it's quality and not quantity that matters.
“Organise your day or week such that there are designated times that you can dedicate solely to your spouse.” ~ Miss Sher-Li Torrey, the founder and director of social enterprise Mums@Work Singapore
For instance, you and your spouse can try getting up fifteen minutes earlier every morning to enjoy a shared breakfast. Keeping fit can be a fun way to bond, too, so consider scheduling lunchtime gym sessions or evening runs together.
These shared pockets of time can go a long way in improving communication levels and strengthening your relationship.
Strive for work-life balance
This may be easier said than done, but it's possible to have both your personal and professional lives flourish.
The key to doing so? Demarcating your time clearly. Focus 100 per cent on your job while you're in the office; similarly, don't let work-related tasks impinge on time spent with your spouse – so no taking calls or answering emails after hours.
Having sufficient downtime also enables you to recharge fully and concentrate on your work better the following day – it's a positive feedback loop.
Do note that if you’re covered under Part IV of Singapore’s Employment Act, you’re not legally allowed to work for more than 12 hours a day, and no more than 72 overtime hours a month.
If you feel like you’re being overburdened at work, raise the issue with your employer. Learn more at mom.gov.sg.
Be mentally present
It's important to make every second count – so do away with the myriad distractions.
Turn off the TV and put your phones and laptops aside; there's no point spending “couple time" if you're both preoccupied with answering emails or scrolling through social media feeds.
Instead, channel your undivided attention to your spouse and really reconnect heart-to-heart.
Share the parenting duties
Children are life changing, and in more ways than one. While they are an infinite source of joy and fulfillment, they also demand virtually all of your time and energy.
“The intensity of caring for a new life can cause new tensions in a marriage, as priorities shift and couples feel the physical strain,” ~ Danny Ho, psychotherapist, OnePlace Consultancy
More often than not, this results in relationships being placed on the back burner.
“If you and your spouse shoulder the parenting load equally, parenting time can sometimes also become couple time, as you’ll be doing things as a unit. Sharing the responsibilities also keeps the appreciation factor high,” advises Helen.
“Plus, including the children also has the merits of having them observe adult interactions and learn appropriate social behaviours.”
Take a break from the Children
However, it’s also important to regularly spend time away from the children. For instance, try sending them to bed half an hour earlier; you and your spouse can then use that extra quiet time to catch up about each other's day.
Do also schedule regular date nights, during which you can enjoy each some couple -time undisturbed. Get the grandparents to take over the babysitting duties so you can enjoy your evening without guilt, knowing that your little ones are in good hands.
“It’s true, the fortnightly 2-hour date nights with my hubs, and away from baby helped us bond better. We needed to chill out and just be ‘the two of us’!” ~ Sharon Koh, new mummy with 6-month old baby
Be creative when it comes to dates
Speaking of which, dates don't have to be expensive nor time consuming. Try something you’ve never done, be it trampolining or pottery lessons – you might just discover each other’s hidden talents.
Or go off the beaten track by visiting a lesser-known park, historic site or museum – have you ever been to The Gem Museum or Baba House, for instance?
Then there’s always the option of having a board game marathon at home, complete with hilarious forfeits for the loser. The possibilities are endless!