How to improve quality time with your partner

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The issue of “couple time” falls into that Mars-Venus planetary orbit. What constitutes quality “couple time”? And how much is enough? Well, that depends on who’s doing the talking. This week, our regular relationship columnist, Liza Finlay, asked a male friend, Gregg Lawless, to weigh in…

She Said

Most working moms would make admirable circus performers. They expertly juggle multiple balls, they gracefully walk the tightrope between work and home (while balancing budgets in their heads). As for their marriages? Send in the clowns.

The sad reality is that, for many women, being a mom leaves little time for being a mate. But that doesn’t mean we like it that way! We know that unless we want to wake up sleeping with a stranger, we need to invest a little time. Key word “little.”

I think most men cringe at the notion of “couple time” because they believe that, for us, it requires hours spent gazing adoringly into each other’s eyes. Wrong. Most women don’t require quantity; they do want quality.

I’ll leave the guy talk to my buddy Gregg, but here’s what we women want (and dare I say need?).

We want to feel important, and that the relationship is important. That means that when our men give us a little undivided attention we feel special. Asking about our day while reaching for the popcorn and checking the sports highlights doesn’t do it for us. Hurrying us through our diatribe about the kids’ soccer coach with a quick fix (“Here’s what you need to do honey”) doesn’t do it for us either. Turn off the TV long enough to listen. And if you want to go for gold, book a babysitter and reserve a table for two at our favourite restaurant.

We want to feel sexy — and that doesn’t necessarily mean we want to have sex (at least not yet, but hold that thought). What makes us feel sexy? When our guys notice that we’re wearing our “good panties” and that we’ve waxed. Heck, notice our bang trim! So guys, spend a little time checking us out, like you used to. Believe me, it will pay off.

We want to feel connected. We want to feel confident that we are as compatible with you now as we were then. So when we share an experience together — whether it’s cooking a meal, an art exhibit, or a movie — we feel we are fortifying bonds that last a lifetime.

He Said

Like most issues in a serious relationship, learning how to define quality time in a way that will work for both a man and a woman requires conversation — often tough for men, who just want to find a quick solution — and compromise.

There is no way to stickhandle around it: men and women have very different ideas of what constitutes quality time. Men can stand in a river fishing for hours, 50 feet from one another, silently enjoying each other’s company. There’s typically more “doing” than “talking” involved.

You will rarely find a group of men getting together to discuss their feelings. Being together and sharing an experience (with little or no conversation) is something men usually prefer — hence their affinity for playing sports, fishing, building, playing cards and watching sports together. Want to get men talking? Try impersonal subjects like business, sports, politics and cars — now there’s fodder for male conversation!

When women get together it is often simply to talk and explore their feelings — relatively strange concepts for the majority of men.

Herein lies the rub: most men would rather “do” than “talk.” Forcing a man to spend quality time, or to talk, with his partner when he isn’t ready can be like pulling teeth and simply won’t work. Ironically, the more space you give a man, the more likely he is to come back to you looking for a real connection — and maybe even a deeper conversation. Strange, but true.

So how do we start the conversation? Why not have each partner draw up a list of five scenarios that would qualify as “quality time”? Then let each partner choose one or two things from the other’s list — and schedule a time to make it happen.

As a rule, most men will gravitate toward choices that involve sharing experiences, rather than feeling the pressure of having to sit down and talk in depth about their feelings. Maybe not what women want to hear — but you asked (and that’s the truth).

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