While research has shown that couples who participate in activities experience more marital satisfaction (Orthner & Mancini), this connection has been brought into question. A causal relationship between time spent together and satisfaction is not as easy to determine as it may seem. On the one hand, time spent together can lead to satisfaction; however, more satisfied couples may also be more likely to spend time together. It’s a classic chicken and the egg situation.
A study conducted by Guldner and Swensen (1995) looked at differences between those in long-distance relationships and those who were not to determine if in fact time spent together helps the relationship. No significant difference was found in their study between levels of self-reported relationship satisfaction, intimacy, trust and the degree of relationship progress, suggesting that time in and of itself does not lead to a successful relationship.
Quality, Not Quantity
If not the amount of time itself, then what may be responsible for the connection some find between time and satisfaction?
Turns out, it’s what you do during your time together that matters. Girme, Overall and Faingataa (2014) demonstrated in their study that “…the more shared relationship activities were stress-free, satisfying and generated closeness, the more positively participants evaluated their relationship three months later” (p. 19).
In addition, couples experienced more satisfaction and closeness when they were more dedicated to the activity. They also experienced greater closeness, intimacy and overall relationship quality when they perceived their partner to be dedicated to the activity.
Activity Ideas For Couples
So how can you apply this research to your life? First and foremost, it’s important to pick activities that both you and your partner enjoy and will want to embrace. Keep in mind that the more committed each partner is to the activity, the more you will get out of the experience. Here are some of the top suggestions for spending quality time with your partner:
- Take a class: Check local libraries, historical societies and cultural centers in your area for a list of classes and events. Many of these are free and open to the public.
- Enroll in a course: The only thing better than taking a one-shot class would be to enroll in a course. Look at the continuing education offerings at local colleges.
- Join a group: Explore Meetup groups and pick one that sparks your interest. This can be a great way to meet other couples in your area.
- Volunteer: Spend time working for a cause that both you and your partner are passionate about. Giving back to the community benefits others and can be a very fulfilling experience.
Ready to strengthen your relationship and broaden your horizons? Plan out some quality time with your partner to keep your passion for one another burning.
You may also be interested in Working With Your Partner To Come Up With Fresh Ideas For Date Night
Girme, Y. U., Overall, N. C., & Faingataa, S. (2014). “Date nights” take two: The maintenance function of shared relationship activities. Personal Relationships, 21, 125-149.
Guldner, G. T., & Swensen, C. H. (1995). Time spent together and relationship quality: Long-distance relationships as a test case. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 12(2), 313-320.
Orthner, D. K., & Mancini, J. A. (1990). Leisure impacts on family interaction and cohesion. Journal of Leisure Research, 22, 125-137.