Typically when we think of spending vs. investing, we are talking about money. Spending money may at times give us momentary satisfaction, but often does not provide long-term value. Wisely investing money offers payoffs in the future. You can likewise invest your time in your relationship, rather than just spending your time together. Each day you have opportunities to co-create your ideal relationship by wisely investing your time together.
When I say, stop spending time together, I mean stop wasting the precious time that you have together. How do we waste the precious time we have for each other? Sometimes we waste it by being crabby the whole time we are together about how we do not have more time together. We can waste it by being on our devices the entire time we are together. We can waste it by continually surrounding ourselves with others rather than making space for couple time. We also waste our time together when we are critical, dismissive, or preoccupied.
What does it look like to invest in your relationship? Think about what it would be like if your relationship were ideal. What would it feel like; what would it look like; who would you be in that relationship? Now ask yourself what could you do to make your words, actions and thoughts match those of the person you would be in your ideal relationship. You may be amazed that if you step up and behave as if your relationship was already amazing that your partner may choose to join you.
Even though this project works best when you both participate, there are many things that you can do to invest in your relationship to front-load the process and hopefully kickstart your partner’s investment.
Try the following:
Offer moments of connection. Unconditionally—do not keep a running score in your head about the times your partner has missed your bids for connection. Perhaps experiment with finding the ways to reach out that resonates with your partner.
Give your partner your full, undivided attention for at least 5 - 20 minutes a day. Whenever possible, pause what you are doing when your partner is speaking to you or trying to get your attention.
Listen to, respect and validate your partner’s thoughts and opinions. Especially if you do not agree with what they are saying—practice curiosity rather than judgment and you will get far better results.
Share your thoughts and feelings gently and honestly. As much as you might like him or her to be, your partner is not a mind reader.
Express gratitude to your partner and about your partner (watch what you say to others about your partner). Aim for five sincere expressions of appreciation a day.
Hug several times a day. Make them full frontal, nice hugs that last for at least 6 seconds. Soak in and enjoy the opportunity to connect physically.
Smile at your partner and let that smile include your eyes. Create rituals to welcome your partner home and to say good-bye when you are parting.
Regularly reminisce about successes in your relationship and create plans for happy future experiences and times together. Aim for weekly dates and at least an annual couple’s getaway (this can be done very economically by creating a stay-cation).
The wise investment of time in your relationship will provide dividends or returns for years to come.