How to make time for your partner

Kate Taylor

Do you find yourself struggling to make time for your loved one? Here's how to make sure you always have time for that special someone no matter your schedule

The clocks go back this month, giving you an extra hour to spend on your relationship. If you struggle to find time to make your partner happy, our Relationship Expert Kate Taylor is here with quick-fixes that’ll boost your love life in seconds. 

 

If you’ve got… five seconds 

Upgrade your usual hello/goodbye peck on the lips to a five-second smacker. Kissing for just a few seconds makes your body release adrenaline, which will fire up your energy levels for the day ahead. 

If you can find time for a longer kiss, go for it! Kissing boosts relationship satisfaction, lowers your stress levels, and has even been shown to improve cholesterol. 

 

If you’ve got… ten seconds 

While you’re kissing, snuggle in for a ten-second hug. 

It’s the quickest way to bond with your partner, as it encourages your body to produce Oxytocin, the famous bonding hormone. 

 

If you’ve got… 30 seconds  

I know you think your partner looks great, is hilarious and clever, and that you’d be lost without them. But do *they* know that? 

Compliments have a short shelf-life, so don’t rely on the mushy speech you made at your wedding to carry your partner through to your ruby anniversary. 

Think of something you love, appreciate or admire about your partner and express it, out loud, or just jotted on the bottom of the shopping list. And while I’m nagging you about giving compliments, I’ll nag you to receive compliments gracefully too. 

If you’re the type to reply to a compliment with a grunt (men) or an, “Are you insane? I look DISGUSTING!” (women), don’t. It really kills the moment. Just smile and say, “Thank you!”  

 

If you’ve got… one minute 

Your partner is doing something today—they told you about it earlier. It’s an appointment, or a meeting, or a little task. 

Think back through your recent conversations, remember something that’s happening today, and send them a brief text message or phone call about it. 

“Hope the doctor’s appointment went well!” These little moments of connection reinforce your feelings of being a team, that it’s you and them against the world. 

 

If you’ve got… five minutes 

In long-term relationships, couples fall into a routine of splitting the chores. 

You always empty the bin, for example, and your partner cuts the grass. You’re in charge of dusting the Dartington Crystal, your partner manages the chandeliers. 

For a sweet five-minute love-mission, take one of your partner’s usual jobs, and do it for them. Don’t run up to them afterwards like a proud toddler and demand instant praise, just do their job and wait for them to discover it. 

(For extra points, do it the way THEY do it. This isn’t the time to passive-aggressively express your long-held belief that teacups should always go on the top rack of the dishwasher.) When they notice, just say, “I love you.” 

 

If you’ve got… ten minutes

Before the Internet, the world was split into two types of people: those who could remember birthdays and anniversaries, and those who just lived in guilty panic. Thankfully, we can now all pretend to be thoughtful and caring, by setting up reminders for all the big dates in our and our partner’s lives. 

Sit down with the calendar app on your smartphone, computer or tablet, and enter in all the dates that matter: your wedding anniversary, your partner’s birthday, the anniversary of your first date… Make them an annual event, and set a reminder for a week before each one occurs. Boom! No more panic.

Then, earn bonus points. Go to an online greetings-card website like moonpig.com or funkypigeon.com and order flowers, cards or gifts for upcoming occasions *now*, before you get all wrapped up in yourself again and forget. 

Christmas is on the way, so set up a private wish list on Amazon and every time your partner mentions loving something, quietly add it to the list. When you eventually start your shopping (at midnight on December 23rd; I see you) you’ll have a ready-made list of everything they like. 

 

If you’ve got… 13 minutes 

Many people mistakenly believe that great sex takes time. In fact, according to research, the very best sex takes just 13 minutes. 

What are you waiting for? Go! 

 

If you’ve got… 30 minutes 

Do something nice for yourself today, for 30 minutes. Have a bath, read your favourite book, watch your favourite TV show, walk the dog… I don’t care what you do as long as it’s something that fills you up and boosts your happiness. 

Long-term relationships aren’t only about giving to your partner; they’re also about learning what you need to feel happy and making that your responsibility. 

When I see stressed-out, angry couples, they’ve usually both forgotten (or ignored) their own needs. The popular US relationship-expert Laura Doyle advises wives to practice self-care three times a day, for maximum marital happiness. 

Also, make it easy for your partner time to pursue the things that make them happy. If they look tired and stressed, run them a bath or make dinner. If they want to see a film that you know you’ll despise, buy tickets for them and a friend, and give them a lift to the cinema. 

If watching Strictly cheers them up, set up an auto-record for the series. The happier your partner is, the happier your relationship will be. 

 

If you’ve got… one hour 

The most important thing you can do to keep your relationship happy and secure, is to build your Love Map. If you’re thinking, “Huh?”—let me explain. (You might already be doing it perfectly.) 

John Gottman created the concept of Love Maps in his best-selling book, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. A Love Map is simply having a detailed understanding of your partner, your life together, and your relationship as a whole. A Love Map contains information about your other half’s hopes and dreams, and also happy memories that you’ve shared together. It’s like a filing cabinet of everything that matters to you as a couple. 

When you’re dating, you’re naturally invested in getting to know each other, so you create a Love Map instinctively. Remember when you stayed up all night just talking? When you wanted to know all about your partner’s childhood? When you privately relived every second of your dates? You were creating an Ordance Survey of each other. 

Over time, you can stop updating your Love Map. You get busy, life takes over, and you that’s when you start drifting apart. 

So once a week, over dinner or when you’re snuggled up, start rebuilding your Love Map. Start by reliving memories together—look through honeymoon photos, or revisit an early date venue, or cook what you ate on your wedding day. (Keep your conversation positive, don’t use this as a chance to reawaken 30-year-old gripes.) Then, get to know more about your partner’s current life. Ask each other questions like:

•    Name one of my hobbies.
•    What stresses am I facing right now?
•    Describe in detail what I did today or yesterday.
•    What is my fondest unrealised dream?
•    What is one of my greatest fears or disaster scenarios?
•    What is my favourite way to spend an evening?

You can find more tips on Love Maps on John Gottman’s website. At first, if you’ve been distant with each other, you can feel awkward asking each other questions. But the process quickly becomes fun and light-hearted and reminds you of everything you first loved about each other. Soon, you’ll be updating your Love Map naturally. It’ll be a fun reminder of where you’ve been, and the unchartered territory you’re yet to discover.