Have you ever done one of those Michael Hyatt exercises where he teaches you all about how much time you have in your day and where your time is going? He has one that he often uses where you label every hour of your day to see where you’re spending your time.
He’s not the only one to do this. In fact, when you feel like your schedule is overwhelming, or you need to move things around so you can get more done, or when you know your priorities are off – exercises that have you look at every minute of your day can help you do two things: (1) show you where you’re actually spending all of your time, and (2) show you what free time you really do have in your calendar. I want to take a minute to share two stats about “where Americans spend their time” that might be a bit shocking to you.
In 2018, the average American spent 144 minutes a day on social media.
That’s almost 2.5 hours daily!
If you’d like, you can track your actual time and even set limits on your social media use by downloading one of these helpful apps.
If social media stars aren’t enough, stats from 2018 show that the Average American watches just under 3 hours of TV a day.
That’s quite a bit, right?
Let’s assume you’re in the average and that most of your time on social media is also time that you’re watching TV. That would still mean about 2.5 hours a day of “wasted or non-optimized time” during your day. And while I get that some of that time might be business-building activities by posting online, this is still a touch of proof that most of us can find 30-60 minutes that we can free up.
Now, I am about to give you some ways that you can create intimacy in small amounts of time, but first, I want you to assess your schedule just a bit.
What time do you typically wake up and go to sleep?
The hours in-between waking and sleeping are your “usable hours.” This is how much time you have that you can use in whatever way you choose.
Now, consider those same hours for your spouse. How many of your waking hours are also hours that your spouse is awake?
Now, take those “usable hours” and determine which ones are your “optimal hours.” These are the hours where you potentially can both be free or make yourselves available to one another. For example, maybe you have 30 minutes together where you’re both awake in the morning before somebody leaves for work. Maybe you have an hour at night where you usually watch a show together. Maybe there’s a 15-minute period during the day where your lunch breaks can overlap some. It’s really important that you have an understanding of the time you can set aside. Knowing how much time you can devote and exactly when your optimal times are will allow you to engage in activities that will be most beneficial. After all, nobody starts a game of Monopoly when you only have 30 minutes.
Okay, now that you have an understanding of your own time constraints and availability, let’s talk about some ways you can improve intimacy starting right after you finish reading this.
Note: Just so we’re speaking the same language, I’m going to talk about emotional intimacy. Physical intimacy typically occurs a little more easily when we focus first on the emotional connection. But, in the future I’ll be adding articles specific to the physical connection.
Turn Toward Your Spouse
There are three responses that we can have with our spouse. We can turn away from them (purposely leave them either physically or emotionally), turn against them (more intense than turning away, you actually make sure your spouse knows that you’re avoiding them or angry with them), or turning toward. Turning toward your spouse means that you are intentional in responding to their questions or their behaviors toward you. Instead of answering with grunts or “uh-huh,” you take a moment to stop, look them in the eyes, and make it clear that you’re present. Examples of turning toward could be sending a text back when they reach out to you, turning off the TV when they talk to you, putting your phone away when you’re on a date, or simply looking in your spouse’s eyes while you have a conversation. Anything that says, “you have my entire focus right now” is an example of turning toward. This is something you can do at any time that you and your spouse are interacting with one another.
Express Some Gratitude
All of us like to be appreciated for what we do and for who we are. What are those things that you really love about your spouse? Make sure that they know what those things are. Send a text during the day, leave a little note somewhere they will find it, tell them face-to-face before you leave for work or before you go to bed. Make your words clear and easy to understand and give a true and meaningful comment. Do this daily!
Practice Some Take-nology
Use some portion of your day to get rid of the technology. Maybe the best time to do this is early in the morning while you share a cup of coffee together or it may be for 30 minutes before you go to sleep. Remember what we looked at a moment ago? Most Americans spend about 2.5 hours a day engaged with their smart phones or watching TV. Spend a portion of this time completely disconnected from everything but your spouse. When you’re short on time, you have to make sure that your spouse feels like your priority in the free moments.
Show Interest in Your Spouse’s Day/Dreams/Passions
Have you ever noticed that people love to talk about themselves? This is because when we share something about ourselves, we feel known by the other person and a little more connected. One great way to show your spouse you want to be intimate, is to show an interest in what’s happening in their world. But, instead of the traditional “how was your day” question that most couples ask, learn to ask, “What was the hardest part of your day” (which shows an interest in any struggles they had) and “What was the best part of your day” (which allows your spouse to share a little celebration with you). These two questions will promote more significant communication than “how was your day” will.
Be Vulnerable With Your Spouse
Asking your spouse about their day is important, but for the intimacy to really be there, you have to be willing to share your own celebrations and difficulties. Most CEOs (especially men) have a hard time sharing the struggles because they don’t want to burden their wives or they don’t want to worry them. It’s really important that you understand that your wife feels safer with you knowing that you have some struggles than she does when you refuse to share those. You seem more human when you share which makes her feel less alone in the relationship. Counter-intuitive, I know. But it works.
So, there you have it.
Those are just a few ways that you can start building some emotional intimacy in your relationship even if you’re a little short on time. But do keep in mind that making time to work on your marriage will be hugely beneficial, and setting aside some time will let your spouse know that you cherish and love him or her. Setting aside just one date night every couple of weeks where you focus wholly on one another can start the process of building a happy marriage.