Quality Time: A Relationship Investment Worth Making

“Marriage is a mosaic you build with your spouse. Millions of tiny moments that create your love story.”
-Jennifer Smith

Are you getting enough quality time with your partner? Do you have regular date nights? Or have your date nights been replaced by watching TV together on the couch? When was the last time you and your partner laughed and had fun together? Hopefully, you’re getting out and having fun with your partner, but the reality is that it can be a struggle to get that quality time. Between work schedules, parenting schedules, and the demands of daily life obligations, our relationships often fall to the bottom of our list of priorities.  According to a study conducted by Ron Deal and David Olson, authors of The Smart Stepfamily Marriage, of the 50,000 couples they surveyed, 51 percent of the people wished that their partner had more time and energy for shared recreation or interests.

Having a strong foundation with our partner is especially important in a stepfamily because we need that foundation, built on love, trust, and quality time, to give us the strength to handle day-to-day challenges. In fact, Deal and Olson discovered that shared leisure activity was the number four predictor of a happy, healthy marriage. That’s why it’s crucial to invest that time into your relationship–it can make or break your relationship.

Maximizing Quality Time in the Azores

My husband and I take this idea very seriously. One of our shared interests is traveling. Both of us lived overseas for a while, and we love to experience new things, so we make it a priority to go on one overseas trip together a year. It takes a lot of planning between work, our parenting schedule, and pets, but we make it happen. This year, we went to the Azores, a chain of nine volcanic islands in the Atlantic Ocean, about 4.5 hours by plane from Boston. This was one of the most beautiful and unique places we have ever visited. We rented a car and drove around the largest island, Sao Miguel. We went on hikes, visited a tea plantation, swam in a thermal bath, and ate corn boiled in volcanic waters.

Hiking at Lagoa do Fogo
Hiking at Lagoa do Fogo
Quality time at a tea plantation
Checking out the tea plantation
Terra Nostra, an iron-colored thermal pool
Terra Nostra, an iron-colored thermal pool
The Old City Gates in Ponta Delgada
The Old City Gates in Ponta Delgada
Cozido- a stew that is cooked in the hot springs for 8 hours. It was like a volcanic pot roast to me.
Exploring the coast near Nordeste

Lessons from a Pineapple Plantation

We visited a pineapple plantation, and each greenhouse had pineapples in different stages of growth. Did you know it takes about 2 years to grow a pineapple? Pretty amazing, right? Just as pineapples take time and effort to grow, stepfamilies take about 4 to 7 years on average to blend. And by blend, I mean that’s when they feel more comfortable with each other. Each family has their own unique blend of challenges, and they grow at their own speed, and that’s okay. Don’t force it– give your family time and space to grow. (Read more about my experience as a stepparent here.)

pineapple plantation
Pineapple plantation in the Azores

Every minute counts

We had the best time together. We navigated narrow cobblestoned streets, tried new foods, and crossed another place off our bucket list. Even though we had to plan months in advance, it was worth every minute we spent together. So, my question to you is: when can you set aside some quality time with your partner to do something that you both enjoy? Think of a fun hike you can go on together or a new place you can explore. You might need to get inventive in how you carve out that time, but start planning it!

I’d like to hear about your travel ideas! Any suggestions of beautiful places you’ve been for next year?