In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to dispel the myth that quality time is more important for a healthy relationship than quantity time.
First a quick update:
Take The Test – 5 Languages of Love
Love is an expression and therefore it has a language – a form of communicating and expressing. Each one of us feels love and feels loved in different ways. Some people want to hear the words “I love you” while others want to feel love with physical touch. Accordingly, a couple may truly love each other but they might not feel each other’s love if it is not expressed in their own individual language.
Surviving The Trump Era
The USA is divided over Donald Trump – there is extreme polarization; you are for Trump or you are against Trump: one couple married for 22 years divorced over Donald Trump. How do we survive the extreme divisions and anger? Watch the video for the one tip to surviving the Trump era and presidency.
Now, let’s talk about the myth that quality time is more important than quantity time.
Most people believe that quality time is much more significant than quantity time for building healthy relationships, meaningful interactions and bonds.
Quantity time is the amount of time spent between two people.
Quality time is the undivided attention between two people that is expected to produce positive interactions.
The term “quality time” often suggests that there will be a small, limited amount of time fully devoted to the other person and that in the small, limited amount of time there will be an extraordinarily meaningful interaction – one that will be remembered and treasured for a long time; there will be tenderness, intimacy, vulnerability, laughter, humor, candor, romance, ecstasy, catharsis, revelation, fulfillment, deep satisfaction and pleasure, or some other opening of the heavens.
This is where the myth of quality time over quantity time is dispelled:
We cannot engineer or create upon demand the magical moments of life which actually occur when we are least expecting them.
We cannot force a child or an adult to open up emotionally upon demand. We cannot expect someone to fulfill our expectation of playing or performing the role or function of producing a meaningful interaction within a tiny allotment of time.
We particularly cannot expect or demand that a child engage in positive interactions for the given period of time just because that’s what we want; children have their own needs, desires and challenges which do not fit into a timetable or predetermined structure.
Think for a moment about a couple of magical memories you have from any relationship in your life. How did they occur? Were they planned or were they spontaneous?
For example, I have magical memories of dancing with one of my 8-year old nieces; she is passionate about dancing. Can I just show up at the time I want or when I am available and say to her, “Hey, I have only 2 hours; let’s dance”? No. The emotion, mood and desire have to be there on her part. I was staying at my brother’s house for a week and so we had the chance to dance in the evening usually around dinner; she wasn’t in the mood on a weekend morning or when there were other things on her mind – a friend visiting, a game she wanted to play, etc. Another special moment occurred when, during one dinner, she decided she would be the entertainer and actress. It was a hilarious moment which I could not have created upon demand. It was one dinner out of seven.
On another occasion, I was sitting on the sofa with the same niece when her older brother came and sat next to us as we were looking at photos and he happened to ask me a sincere heartfelt question about the health of one of his cousins. I could tell that this was an important issue to him that he asked only when he felt comfortable about asking it.
I could not have created or engineered that moment by saying, “Hey, I only have limited time here; anything special on your mind that you would like to ask me?”
The point here is that only with and during “quantity time” is it possible to experience the moments that one would define as or expect in quality time i.e. you need lots of time so that you might experience those quality or memorable moments.
Further, with regards to children, the definition of love is attention. (Yes, unhealthy attention in children creates twisted definitions of love.)
The most common complaint I hear from adult clients about the past is that their parents were never there. They speak about coming home to an empty house or ‘mom and dad wouldn’t come home till really late’ or ‘dad would be gone by the time I woke up each morning.’
Children don’t speak in terms of quality time; they speak in terms of quantity time. Children want to hang out with their parents; they want to do things or just be near the parents; they want to feel or know that their parents are physically nearby. They measure their own significance and self-worth based on the amount of time their parents devote to them.
While children also want undivided attention from their parents, they first think in terms of total time. And the more time spent together, the greater chance and opportunity there is for magical, quality moments to occur.
Think also about adult relationships – why do people who commit to a relationship decide to live together versus living separately and seeing each other once a week? Why is it so important to both of them to see each other on a daily basis? Why do they want to wake up to each other? Why not just do it all on one day a week?
Why do long-distance relationships almost always fail? Why can’t relationships simply function on the couple seeing each other once a month or once every 6 months?
The answer is clearly evident – we need live interaction and lots of it. We need quantity time together to make a relationship successful. And, if we choose to give each other as much undivided attention as possible whenever we are together, then we have the opportunity to truly create quantity and quality time.
The best investment in your partner or child is spending time with them and giving them your undivided attention.
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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”
Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist