What Is Quality Time?
Jerry N. Duncan, Ph.D., ABPP
When we think of quality time, it usually is when we are thinking about or discussing time with our children. By the way, they are discovering that quantity time appears to be just as important to children as quality time. Interesting. The last statistic I heard on quantity time with children said dads average about 30 minutes a week of individual time with each of their chilldren. Not enough.
Let’s talk about quality time as a form of loving someone important to you. I am going to suggest a definition of quality time that includes giving someone undivided attention, doing something with them that they enjoy doing, and doing it wholeheartedly.
Here is a sample list that a husband put together when he thought of things his wife had mentioned through the years—
- Take our RV and spend a weekend in the mountains (sometimes with the children and sometimes just the two of us).
- Meet me for lunch (at a nice restaurant or sometimes even at Mcdonalds).
- Get a babysitter and take me out to dinner, just the two of us.
- When I come home at night, sit down and talk with me about my day and listen as I tell about my day- with the TV off as we talk.
- Spend time talking with the kids about their school experiences.
- Spend time playing games with the children.
- Go on a picnic with me and the kids on a Saturday and don’t complain about the ants and flies.
- Take a family vacation with us at least once a year.
- Go walking with me and talk as we walk (walking side by side).
The activity is not the big deal. The big deal is spending focused time together. The activity is just the vehicle.
Another form of quality time is quality conversation. Quality conversation focuses on active listening. Active listening involves drawing the other person out by asking good questions with a genuine desire to understand the other person’s thoughts, feelings, and desires. Gary Chapman in The Five Love Languages, recommends five practical tips:
- Maintain eye contact when your spouse is speaking.
- Don’t listen to your spouse and do something else at the same time.
- Listen for feelings- and feed them back for confirmation at times. For instance, “It sounds like you are feeling disappointed because I forgot ____.”
- Observe body language (clenched fists, excited tone, tense tone, trembling hands, tears, etc.).
- Refuse to interrupt.
Sharing your own thoughts and feelings is also important. It is not an easy thing to do for some of us. But, it is a learnable skill. And with practice, we can reveal our hearts as we share our thoughts, feelings, and desires.
If you think your partner’s primary love language is quality time, ask him/her to give you a list of the top ten ways he/she would like to spend time with you. Carry the list with you and pick one a week to experiment with.
Loving others successfully will bring out your best you. Have fun.