Every relationship has ups and downs or days when you just seem to be irritable with each other – it’s normal so expect it and find ways to manage it so they don’t lead to bigger frustrations that could become detrimental to your relationship down the line.
One of the most common errors people make in relationship is not making quality time a priority.
The biggest frustration for any couple when it comes to spending quality time together is not having their partner being fully present for them – in other words, paying attention, listening, engaging and communicating.
There are many elements that can distract us from being fully present for our partners, some of the most common complaints I often hear are: being on our devices (social media, WhatsApp, work emails etc), children, work stress or pressure, household chores/responsibilities, sports and hobbies and that there is never enough time as we are always ‘busy’.
This can have a huge impact on your partner
As human beings, our basic need is wanting to be loved and accepted. When we are constantly feeling invisible, not a priority, not appreciated, not heard/acknowledged by our partner, it can erode at our self-worth, self-esteem and self-confidence.
Eventually over time, this behaviour erodes all the good and positive things that are in our relationship as the negative eventually overshadows the positive. We see, feel and experience very little nurturing and connection in our relationship and with our partners that we end up growing more distant and apart by the day.
It can also have a huge impact on your relationship
Couples can become so disconnected from each other that the risk is over time, resentment begins to grow as our needs are not being met resulting in a disconnected, potentially toxic relationship, living separate lives, sharing very little in common, having superficial communication, feeling alone, empty and unfulfilled, ultimately leading to divorce or break-up.
Quality time should be seen as an investment into your partner and your relationship
Couples need to establish relationship values which help to create boundaries to maintain the quality and the health of their relationship. This includes making each other and your relationship a priority, turning towards each other to resolve conflict instead of away from each other, understanding that there will be differences and that all relationships go through patches so communication is key.
If you don’t make time for your relationship, over time you won’t have a relationship. Investing time in each other and your relationship is what sets the foundation for long-term success.
So how do you let your partner know you feel like they are neglecting your quality time together?
It’s important to be able to resolve conflict in a respectful way where both parties feel heard, acknowledged and able to find a middle ground. When you’re constantly trying to justify your thoughts, actions and behavior, it is emotionally draining and will result in a toxic spiral to divorce/break-up. It’s easy to blame our partners for things that go wrong but when we do that, we avoid taking responsibility and accountability for our own contribution to the situation.
This behaviour can also have a negative impact on children as they will not only be observing this behaviour between their parents and learning key life skills such as conflict management skills for later in life, but they will also be experiencing and internalising the emotional impact the toxic relational space the couple is creating.
The best method to use is what we call a Behaviour Change Request (BCR): When you do XYZ, it makes me feel ABC, and what I really would like or need from you instead is XXX.
This prevents couples getting stuck in the blame game as it focuses on the action(s), the impact of the action and instead, how to be there for your partner without judgement or criticism and to really see the impact of your actions from their perspective.
If you are the guilty party,what should you do if you are being called out on this type of behaviour?
In every situation we always have a choice, and when a partner shares their experience with you and the impact it is having on them, they are giving you insight into how to be a better partner for them and a choice to change your behaviour or completely disregard their feelings and needs. The reality with this is that if you keep doing the same, you will keep having the same effect on your partner which over time will erode your relationship as it is unsustainable in the long term.
Paula Quinsee: Relationship Expert and passionate advocate for creating healthy relationships at home, in the workplace, and against GBV, to co-create a more human connected world, and positively impact people’s lives. Paula is also an international speaker and author of Embracing Conflict and Embracing No. More info: https://paulaquinsee.com/