In the last post I described the love language of Words of Affirmation. The second language is called Quality Time, and you probably have a fair idea what that’s about without needing much a definition. As you would expect, it means that some people primarily feel loved by spending time with you. There are various ways this can be accomplished, as well as some pitfalls to avoid. Let’s explore.
For Quality Time people, being in the presence of a person they love fills them up and allows them to feel loved. Naturally, there is more to this than just being in the same room. Two people sitting at the dinner table looking at their respective smartphones does not quite count as Quality Time. On the other hand, neither does Quality Time require you to look lovingly into each other’s eyes for extended periods.
What Counts as Quality Time?
There are in fact a variety of ways to spend Quality Time together, and finding the right “dialect” of your spouse’s love language might take some trial and error for both of you. For some people, a quiet dinner at home is just right; for others it’s preferable to go out to a restaurant. For others still it’s important not just to sit and chat but to be doing something. This can range from a game of checkers to window shopping to a scuba diving excursion. The key to make any of these work is focused attention. If you’re playing checkers and checking Facebook in between turns, that doesn’t count. If you’re out shopping but you’re talking more to the salesman than to your partner, that doesn’t count. And if you’re on a scuba trip but you’re chilling on the boat while your spouse is down in the reef below, that also doesn’t count.
Quality Time doesn’t necessarily require conversation, but it does require attention. You can concentrate real hard on your checkers strategy and still be attending to your husband. You can be scuba diving together, which does not afford much opportunity for conversation, and still be “together.” It’s a question of where your attention is.
At the same time, for some Quality Time folks conversation is an integral part of the picture. They might not be satisfied with a silent board game, but would instead prefer to converse about topics large and small, regardless of the setting. If this is your partner’s dialect, you might find that phone calls can be a good way to maximize Quality Time in an increasingly busy world.
Here are some important hazards to avoid when aiming to provide Quality Time to your partner. For starters, do not assume that Quality Time replaces Quantity Time, as the notion was when the term was first introduced. If you are looking to make your significant other feel loved, you probably want to give him/her as much as you can of the ingredient that will make it happen. Obviously you do not have unlimited time to give; but if you are trying to “get away with” the minimum amount of Time that counts as Quality, you will probably not see much success.
Second, watch out for spending time together that isn’t really spending time together (akin to the smartphone/Facebook examples mentioned above). Another situation where this may arise is in the case of a movie/TV aficionado: if your spouse is a Quality Time person and enjoys watching movies with you, that is a great option to avail yourself of; however, unless you two are the type to chatter through the movie (which is fine, as long as you’re not in the theater!), you will probably not be attending much to each other. If this is the only way you are spending time together, it may not pack much punch for your efforts at providing love. If movie/TV-watching is part of your activities together, make sure there are also other ways in which you spend Quality Time together that don’t consist primarily of parallel interaction with a screen.
One last caution to keep in mind when seeking Quality Time opportunities: one meaningful way to give Quality Time to your partner is to join them in activities they are particularly fond of, even when – and especially when – you yourself are not much of a fan. Monster truck rallies? Great! Joint pedicure session? All right! But if you are going to undertake these Quality Time sessions – and I definitely encourage you to do so – do it with a smile. If you are at the Monster Truck rally with a big sourpuss face, criticizing the level of sophistication of the fan base and rolling your eyes at the theatrics, you are probably better off not going until you can manage to do it with enthusiasm.
One of the nice things about this love language is that there are many, many ways to make it happen. If you’re not sure what your partner would most like to do with the Quality Time together, it’s a great topic for conversation! No need to guess – and what’s more, that conversation itself probably counts as Quality Time too!