Quality time together as a couple is vital for the health of your relationship. If you are like most parent-couples, you have also certainly experienced the rarity of ‘alone time’ and its value when you have it.
I found when my kids were young they needed a lot of attention and when they were sleeping, either me or Mona (or both of us) also wanted to sleep. Quality time for us was a good nap. As my kids got older, they needed less attention but also less sleep. So the times when we could effortlessly be together, just the two of us, was when Emma was at school (and we weren’t working) or the relatively rare times she stayed over with family or friends.
Some time ago we realised that this lack of really high quality time together was putting a strain on our relationship and also meant we were missing out on enjoying being together.
So we explored two questions with an intention to improve the situation:
- how to spend the time we already have in a better way?
- how to create more time together?
Power Time is our answer to the first question and I hope this article supports you with some fresh ideas. I plan to tackle the second question in a future article.
Power Time is focused, full attention and energy on each other for the moments you are alone. Even a few minutes can be a Power Time moment. It is consciously choosing to stop everything you are doing or occupying your mind with and, in that pause, being fully with yourself and your partner.
I want to make a distinction between being together and doing together. Power Time is about choosing the essential quality of being and is not about packing as much activity as you can into a few precious moments.
Being is standing still for a moment, facing the other, focussing on him or her and truly seeing the person you are choosing to be with.
Doing, on the other hand, is standing side by side, focusing on some external task or activity and getting something achieved together.
Both are important, of course, and in my experience most couples focus their available time on doing. While it may be possible to have both doing and being at the same time, it is likely that action diminshes the beauty of being. This is where Power Time comes in.
We started Power Time about a year ago and it has become an integral part of our life together. Here are some key factors:
- no amount of time is too small for Power Time
- ideally you both commit to it
- it gets easier and more rewarding the more you do it
- it is usually more rewarding when not combined with an activity.
Our Power Time Morning Routine
We have about 1 hour of Power Time in a typical day.
Most of it is contained within a 45 minute period before our daughter wakes up and we start the tasks of the day. This is our Power Time Morning Ritual.
We start with coffee and sit facing each other.
For 3 minutes we gaze into each other’s eyes. Sometimes we hold hands but we don’t speak. It is a way to stop time and look deeply into my partner and to be looked into deeply by her. I find it an amazing way to ground myself and root myself into the energy of committment and love between us. It is about seeing and being seen and is probably the most valuable 3 minutes of the day. We use a timer which might seem a bit rigid but it means we don’t get distracted by checking time – so time stands still and we put it out of our hands.
Sometimes we do a practice of 3 minutes kissing. This requires a bit more preparation because, to be frank, its not so pleasant kissing someone who has just woken up. No matter how much we love each other, 3 minutes of morning breath is more than we can handle. But when we do decide to do it, this kissing is with body and soul. We explore each other. Surrender and take in equal measure. It is sensual, sexual and intimate.
For the main part of the Power Time Morning Ritual we talk and listen. One of us talks for 10 minutes (with a timer) while the other listens in silence and with focused attention. There is no topic that is off limits. The subject could be about our joys, dreams, fears, stuff on our mind in relation to life, or to our relationship – about anything at all that has meaning and is current. When the time is over, the listening partner reflects back what they heard and, if asked, may respond. It is not an invitation to dialogue but rather a witnessing of what is going on with each other. Then we do it the other way around.
I find this an extremely high quality time. The benefit for me is that I have a regular and safe space to unload, process and explore things that are bothering me. Being listened to is a huge support. Also I get to hear what is going on in my partner and often we are sharing things directly relevant to our life together and so is a chance to learn and improve.
The regularity of this practice means that if something disturbs me then I don’t always need to deal with it right then and there when it is still raw and unprocessed. I have a choice. I can deal with it straight away and accept the risk that I may not express myself very well. Or I can wait because I know that in less than 24 hours I will have an opportunity to bring it during our morning practice.
Power Time during the rest of the day
We try to bring this attention to Being into any activity we engage in. Of course we don’t manage all the time but our daily practices help bring us back to this intention and state of attention and focus.
We are always looking out for Power TIme moments. A hug, a caress, a few words of vulnerability, a pause and watching what is going on together.
Sometimes we sit outside on our terrace for 5 minutes with a cup of tea and watch the sunset. Just being with each other and soaking up the beauty of the moment. We may share something that is stirred or we may feel into the silence between us.
How do you bring Quality into your couple’s time? What methods and practices work for you? I’d love to hear some in the comments.