Couple relationships can often come under strain from the pressures of modern life and parenting. How much of this problem do you think is down to a lack of quality (one-to-one) time together, and how much do you believe is due to other factors?
A huge factor is the sudden abandoning of all the good relationship habits that helped create closeness and happiness in the past, such as one-on-one fun time, emotional intimacy, physical intimacy, ‘me-time’ and other forms of self-care, and time for happiness-producing activities such as socialising and inducing hobbies. Added pressures in life requires more support for one another and more strategic planning. You just have to prioritise yourselves and each other in and amongst all your other priorities.
What are the specific benefits of couple time (biochemical/emotional?) that make it so effective and important for strengthening a couple relationship?
When we physically touch, including cuddling and kissing, we release oxytocin, oxytocin helps us to bond with the other human, feel safer and calmer, and can even buffer us from physical pain. Psychologically you help one another to feel noticed and cared for, and you help one another maintain resilience when life is challenging you. It also helps to keep your focus on one another instead of becoming distracted from one another and then seeking out what you should be getting from your partner, from someone else, e.g. having an emotional or physical affair. Also, when you frequently spend time together in a positive way, you have a much more solid foundation for dealing with any relationship problems you’re having; without that regular emotional connection it’s difficult to have harmonious dispute resolution when you’re not even liking and loving each other when things are actually going well.
What is the best way of achieving quality time together around work and family commitments?
Schedule the time into your diary for weekly, quality couple-time. If something gets in the way of it one week, aim to reschedule it in for another day so that overall you still get that quality together time in once a week on average, for the most part.
To what degree do you believe relationships can be improved/repaired by investing more time in each other?
One hundred per cent. If you nurture your relationship, amazing things can happen. If you don’t, your relationship can unravel in a big way.
What is your top ‘date night’ tip for parents?
Make it novel if you can to help release the feel good chemical dopamine, as well as making it fun, achievable, and with some laughter if possible. Ideal dose for a ‘date night’: once a week.
See Sam's article in our spring issue