Unmet Expectations: Quality Time

Vicki: “Want to watch a movie tonight?”

Jeremy: “Not really.  I was actually hoping to read a bit.”

Vicki: “Seriously, you’d rather read than watch a movie?”

Jeremy: “Is that a problem?”

Vicki: “Well…no.  It’s not a problem.  I assume you’re going to read in here with me, though, right?”

Jeremy: “I wasn’t planning to.  I mean…at least not if you’re planning to watch a movie.”

Vicki: “But I really wanted to be with you tonight.”

Jeremy: “Well I’m more than willing to sit and read in the living room, but I can’t read if the TV is on.”

Vicki: “Fine! Do whatever you want.  I don’t really care, anyway!”

Jeremy: “It’s seems to me that you really do care.  Can we talk about this some more?”

Vicki: “Just forget it, OK?  I don’t really want to talk about it anymore.  Just go.  Read your stupid book!”

Vicki spends the evening watching the movie alone.  She quickly loses interest and just sits in silence randomly browsing the web instead.  Jeremy tries his best to read, but is very confused from their earlier dialog.  He stops reading as he tries to figure out what went wrong.  With questions unanswered, he goes to bed early.


Quality time.

Think about that phrase for just a minute.

Quality time.

Now really think about it.

Quality time.

If there’s one unmet expectation every couple will experience from time to time, it’s this one.  Disagree?  Well, take the opportunity to honestly answer the following questions:

What does quality time mean?

What does quality time mean…to you?

What does quality time mean…to your spouse?

And there it is, your ah-ha moment of the day.  Quality time means something different for you than it does your spouse.  Not only that, but every single time he or she lives it out differently, you’re frustrated.

Sometimes that frustration turns to anger.

Sometimes it turns to resentment.

Sometimes it turns to sadness.

…..You mean he doesn’t want to spend time with me?

……….You mean she doesn’t love me?

……………You mean he is more attracted to a book…or video game…or TV show?

………………..You mean she is more interested in Pinterest…or blogging…or crafts?

It really is amazing to think through the wide array of emotions that hit you all due to a misunderstanding of “quality time”.  And as we’ve written previously in this series, these emotions have the capability of impacting other areas of your marriage as well.  So, while identifying your emotions and where they’re rooted is important, it’s even more important to figure out what to do with them.

Understand: First things first – recognize that you and your spouse have a different understanding of quality time.  Not only that, but you probably each have contrasting ideas as to how much quality time is needed in an average week/month.  He may think that sex is the only “quality time” you need.  She may think that *gulp* an hour of conversation is needed every day.  What we’re saying is, understand you have different needs and desires in the area of quality time.

Do: Take the opportunity to discuss two things together.  First, is a working definition of “quality time.”  Second, is an equal understanding of how this looks in a marriage relationship.

We won’t lie, this conversation will probably be a lot more difficult than you may initially realize.  The reason for that is that one or both of you may have some unrealistic expectations when it comes to the subject of quality time.  Not only that, but there are only so many hours in a day.  You will have to work together to come up with realistic expectations for your marriage.  Don’t pay attention to what kind of time other couples may have together, simply make the most of the time you have with one another.

Some questions you can ask yourself and/or one another as part of the process may include:

  1. How did your family spend quality time together when you were a child?
  2. In what ways has this affected your understanding of quality time?
  3. When do you feel closest to me?
  4. Are there any new family traditions we can begin ourselves?
  5. Is there anything I can give up this week so that we can spend more time with one another?

Understand: Quality time does not necessarily involve having a similar hobby.  In our home, we have only one similar interest – writing together!  Outside of that, despite our efforts to the contrary, we just haven’t found any similar interests.  If this is anything like your marriage, you must understand that hobbies are not the only avenue to quality time.  Quality time is quality time.  If spending time together is what’s most important, your spouse’s hobbies won’t matter.

Do: Find ways to spend quality time with one another.  In fact, if the day-to-day schedule leaves little room for quality time, then schedule in a day once every 2-3 months where you take the opportunity to be with one another.  Allow the first one to be a day where he chooses what you do and where you go.  Then let her choose and plan your next outing.

If you really want a challenge, spend one entire week joining your spouse in all of their interests and hobbies.  Play a video game with him.  Read a book with her.  Watch an entire football game with him.  Get a pedicure with her.  Whatever it takes, just do whatever YOU have to do in order to spend time with your loved one.

Understand: Your interests and hobbies may not be similar, but your goals ought to be.  Once you have a working definition of quality time and how it works itself out in your marriage, you need to understand you’re going to have to make some personal sacrifices.  You may need to give up some things you enjoy doing for the sake of the goals you’ve set with your spouse.

Do: Prioritize your marriage above your personal interests.  Remember, quality time is the goal.  In order to achieve it, you may need to give up a few things.  In fact, you may even need to give up some ‘good’ things for something even better.

If you happen to be someone who enjoys spending time alone, you may need to give up some of your personal time as well.

You may have less time with your crafts.

Less time with your cars.

Less time with your laptop.

Less time with yourself.

But you’ll have more time with one another.  Your spouse will thank you.  Your marriage will thank you, too.


This is part 6 in a series we’re writing on Unmet Expectations.  Read the rest of the series here:

Unmet Expectations: Introduction

Unmet Expectations: Rewriting Your Story

Unmet Expectations: Orgasmic Conflict

Unmet Expectations: Better Than The Best

Unmet Expectations: Guilt vs. Shame

Unmet Expectations: Quality Time

Unmet Expectations: Holidays & Family Time

Unmet Expectations: Friends Outside of Marriage


3 thoughts on “Unmet Expectations: Quality Time

  1. Giving up something that is good for something better is really critical in this. Like so many other couples my wife and I have really shifted our thinking in quality time with the addition of two children. Because two little ones (2 1/2 and 8 months) require such attention and really keep us going in different directions much of the time, we knew that we had to make the most of every moment we could.

    This meant finding pauses in the middle of the madness to reconnect. That may be ten minutes here or there and won’t sustain us but is a great check in until the evening when the kiddos are asleep. That evening alone time is precious and that is where we had to do some tweaking. We come first, then if we want to do a little individual reading before bed or whatever we can. Little check in’s plus a mutual commitment to shut everything down in the evening once we can and just be together worked great for us!

  2. My husband and I try to devote a lot of scheduled and some unscheduled quality time together, but there are times when we get snagged–just like your example in the beginning of your post. I like how you’ve thought through this and offer us some great questions to consider. I’ll have to work through them with my hubby soon! Great post … Megan? right? Appreciate your visit to my blog too. 🙂

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