Expressing the Love Language of Quality Time

Love Language - Quality Time

Most of us have the drive to build deep relationships. We value the support our familial, platonic and romantic relationships provide and recognize the role they play in helping us build resilience during difficult times.

While the drive to seek out relationships may be innate, the know-how doesn’t always come naturally. Every person brings a different history, set of expectations, personal preferences and goals to a relationship. All of these are reflected in the way we interact with friends, family and romantic partners. It can be challenging when those don’t match up, causing conflict, frustration and misunderstandings.

Enter the love language theory. This theory provides a framework for helping someone identify how their partner perceives and experiences love and guides them into connecting with their partner in a way that’s meaningful to them. Read on to learn where this theory comes from and how quality time fits into it.

What Is the Love Language Theory?

The Love Language theory is a concept developed by Dr. Gary Chapman, a pastor, marriage counselor and author, in his book entitled The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate. This book was published in 1992, and since then, it’s formed the backbone of countless quizzes, workshops, classes, study guides, companion books, podcasts and blogs.

According to this idea, there are five main ways in which people receive and express love in a relationship. Based on his experiences as a counselor, Chapman posited that people tend to express love in the way they want to receive it, and conflict and misunderstandings can arise when one partner shows love in a way that their partner doesn’t recognize or prefer to receive it.

For example, one person in the relationship may express love by taking care of unpleasant tasks around the house, but their partner doesn’t see that as an act of love. Instead, they prefer to be shown love through encouraging words. In this scenario, both partners may end up feeling undervalued, though for different reasons.

Chapman’s Love Language theory seeks to alleviate this frustration and disappointment by providing a framework for both partners to express how they give and receive love. By openly talking about what they expect to give and get from the relationship, couples can adapt their communication styles to fit one another’s needs.

What Are the 5 Love Languages?

Within the Love Languages theory, there are five core love languages.

  • Acts of Service
    Acts of service encompass thoughtful gestures and deeds that help make the other partner’s life easier or more enjoyable. This could include taking care of chores such as laundry or dishes without being asked, proactively preparing their partner’s morning coffee or volunteering to take care of the grocery shopping during busy times.
  • Receiving Gifts
    Those who consider their primary love language to be receiving gifts feel most loved and appreciated when their partner puts time and effort into giving them tangible symbols of love. For example, it may be especially meaningful to them if their partner surprised them with their favorite drink or snack or bought a personalized gift related to a memory or a shared private joke.
  • Quality Time
    Those who consider their love language to be quality time feel most loved and valued when they receive undivided attention from their partner. This can be as simple as maintaining eye contact during a conversation or as elaborate as a getaway with one-on-one couples time.
  • Words of Affirmation
    Someone who identifies their love language as words of affirmation may prefer love to be expressed through compliments, encouragement and words of appreciation. For example, this may include thoughtful love notes, encouraging text messages throughout the day and frequently saying “I love you.”
  • Physical Touch
    Those who consider physical touch to be their love language feel most loved through physical affection. This often includes small, regular touches such as holding hands, hugging and kissing.

Quality Time Explained

Based on a survey Chapman conducted through his website, in which 10,000 people participated, about 20% of people indicated that quality time was their primary love language. These people feel most loved, and they show love, through undivided attention. When they’re spending time with their partner, they prioritize minimizing distractions and focusing on what their partner is saying or the activity they’re participating in together.

While technology has offered a lot of perks for day-to-day life, it has taken a toll on the quality of our relationships. It isn’t just our daily responsibilities pulling our attention away from our partners, it’s the distractions that come from our phones, tablets and televisions. It’s too easy to mindlessly play a mobile game while halfway paying attention to a conversation, and it’s commonplace for many partners to spend their evenings scrolling through their social media accounts on their respective devices.

Shifting the focus to enjoying quality time with a partner requires breaking some habits and building some new ones. Setting personal boundaries and making plans for distraction-free couples time is an effective way to foster a healthy, happy relationship.

How to Give Quality Time

Quality time is essential for any relationship to thrive, but if your partner identifies with this as their preferred love language, it’s important to create a plan for how you spend time together. Setting and following basic ground rules can strengthen your relationship and help your partner feel loved.

Making Eye Contact

While this may seem like a small gesture, it has a huge impact on the quality of your conversations. When you and your partner are together, focus on making eye contact rather than letting yourself be distracted by your phone, television or activities happening around you.

Practice Active Listening

Passively listening while your partner is talking, or worse – thinking about what you’re going to say when it’s your turn to talk – can come off as cold and disconnected. Instead, make sure you’re paying attention, ask questions to gain a better understanding and provide verbal cues to let them know you’re tracking what they’re saying.

Be Intentional

Especially for those with busy lives filled with home, job and child-rearing responsibilities, quality time rarely happens without intentionality. Plan a weekend getaway, set up a recurring coffee date or find a shared hobby to enjoy.

Incorporate Quality Time into Your Daily Routine

Time and budgetary constraints don’t always allow for regular dates and getaways, but that doesn’t mean you and your partner can’t still prioritize quality time. Build one-on-one moments into your daily routines by setting aside time for distraction-free conversations, meals together or evening walks.

Receiving This Love Language

For those who closely identify with quality time as their love language, it’s helpful to be open with partners about the importance of distraction-free conversations and activities. Too often, those who don’t see the impact that little distractions have on the health of their relationships have difficulty recognizing the value of prioritizing quality time without letting other things steal their attention. Having a frank conversation with practical, actionable goals you want to accomplish can prevent confusion and avoid making your partner feel as though the ways they express love are unappreciated.

Examples Of Quality Time

There are several ways you and your partner can prioritize quality time together, depending on your schedules and interests. Some ideas include:

Going on regular walks
Plan regular date nights
Enjoy shared hobbies or activities, such as cycling or participating in a cooking class
Find activities you can enjoy doing at home together, such as game nights
Focus on being present during conversations, without distractions from technology
Have deep conversations where you both share your thoughts and feelings
Run errands together

Prioritizing quality time with your partner can strengthen your relationship. By taking the time to focus on distraction-free conversations and activities, both you and your partner can feel connected and fulfilled.