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stressed-manMonday through Friday. The work grind.

It’s no picnic.

And if you have kids, add to that the school grind, complete with carpools and bake sales and homework and bedtime.

By the time the day is done, couples barely have the energy to high-five each other for making it through another day, let alone spend any quality time together. And no, grabbing a few bites of dinner together in front of the TV before subsequently nodding off in front of said TV does not qualify as quality time.

This day-to-day neglect of the relationship can be eroding over time, particularly if one or both spouses’ love language is quality time (as it often is for women). But so could an effort to include some QT equally erode your already precious sleep (just 5 more minutes, please!), so don’t worry, I won’t ask you to trade one for the other.

Instead, here are a few tweaks to your regular work week routine you can incorporate to get maximum quality within your minimal quantity time.

  • Turn off the tube: If you tend to use dinner time as an opportunity to catch up on the news (and your email) while using your other hand to scarf down dinner, this one’s for you.  Instead of multitasking, use dinner time for quality time: enjoy a meal and some conversation with your spouse or family. Bonus: you’ll spill less food on your lap (and your tablet) when you’re engaged in the moment.
  • Check-in: Reserving just 15 minutes to check-in with each other in the evening can do wonders for boosting your sense of connection and felt support from your spouse. Regular questions like “What was the best part of your day? The worst?” and “What was the kindest thing you did for someone else? For yourself?” help relieve some of the mental pressure of having to come up with something to say on the spot.  If you had kids, there is also the added benefit of having a reliable and predictable opportunity to check-in with you and have your full attention each day.
  • Couple-reading-in-bedHead to bed early: Instead of waiting for your nodding off in front of the TV to cue bedtime, head in early with your spouse and use the quiet time to check-in, read together or even play a game. Cards, a crossword puzzle, or iPad versions of old school board games like Monopoly or Scrabble are easy to set up in bed, and the process of playing offers easy conversation opportunities while distracting and settling your mind from the day’s stresses and worries.
  • Do it: Even better, go to bed early and play you own little game of hanky panky.  Couples who have sex regularly report high levels of satisfaction, and scheduling sex makes having it regularly more successful and less stressed because you’re not always having to wait for/try to find the moment.

Try one (or all) out!  Have other ideas?  Comment below with how you incorporate a little quality time into your hectic work/school week.