You spend quite a lot of time with your significant other, but how much of that time is actually spent doing things together? In our busy lives it can be hard to make room for quality time, which can be as something as simple as sharing a meal or as extravagant as a week-long vacation. Ultimately, it doesn't really matter what you're doing as long as the time you're spending in each other's company is really focused on being together. Why? This creates a teamwork structure that serves as the foundation of your relationship. "Teamwork is an essential ingredient for the sustainability of long-term relationships, allowing partners to cultivate shared relationship goals and create a meaningful, shared life," says Jenni Skyler, Ph.D., a licensed marriage and family therapist.
Looking for more ways to spend meaningful time with your partner? Here, expert share the seven best ways to ensure you're doing just that.
Eat meals together.
Depending on your work schedules, it's likely not realistic to have every meal together, but whenever you can, experts suggest making an effort to sit down for breakfast, lunch, or dinner with your partner. "Breaking bread at the end of the day allows for couples to sink into the sacred container of their relationship and reconnect after a long day away from one another," says Dr. Skyler. "Sharing a meal means sharing the pleasure of food, and hopefully meaningful conversation for emotional connection."
Go to bed together at the same time.
Again, it's not always possible to go to bed at the same time, but it's important to make the effort as often as possible. "One partner may stay up longer reading; however, the act of getting into bed together symbolizes how special and unique their union is," says Dr. Skyler. "Plus, getting into bed together increases the possibility of having sex, or at least cuddling before dozing off."
If you can't seem to fit in time to cuddle just before bed, try to sneak it in during other times of the day—even if it's just a few minutes. "The shared skin time releases oxytocin which helps bond two people," says Dr. Skyler. "Cuddling also fosters affectionate intimacy so that couples have ways to connect skin-to-skin."
Have date night.
Even if you've been together for years, or even decades, it's important to never stop "dating," or having a special day or night just the two of you. "There is a lot of research showing it improves relationship satisfaction and sexual satisfaction and lowers divorce," says Paulette Sherman, Psy.D., psychologist, director of My Dating & Relationship School and author of Dating from the Inside Out. "Plus it's a great way to have fun, rediscover each other and to get away from everyday responsibilities."
Get away together.
Whether it's one night, over the weekend, or a week-long vacation, getting away together just the two of you is a great way to recharge your relationship and create positive feelings and memories, explains Mary Ann Mercer, Psy.D., psychologist and co-founder of Positive Life Answers. "It snaps you out of your daily routine and gives your relationship the refresh it could use."
Spend holidays together.
Holidays are a special time to spend as a couple. "It's an important habit to make time from work and other obligations and to plan family or couple rituals to mark those special occasions together," says Dr. Sherman. "This creates times of shared joy and gives you things to look forward to together."
Celebrate the little things.
You don't have to wait for something celebratory to happen to celebrate your relationship and marriage. Dr. Mercer suggests marking your calendar to celebrate your first date, the date you got engaged, and your wedding, but also celebrating little moments, like a promotion or the achievement of a personal goal.