Many people have heard of Dr. Gary Chapman’s book The 5 Love Languages, an international bestseller that has helped millions of couples achieve healthy, lasting, and happy relationships.
Chapman, a marriage counselor, found that people generally express love in five different ways — and each of us prefers at least one of these as their ideal way to give or receive love.
These five “love languages” are words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, physical touch, and quality time.
Basically, words of affirmation involve spoken or written words that encourage, support, uplift, and empathize with another in a positive manner.
Acts of service involve doing some sort of action (cooking a meal or running an errand) to show your love.
Giving gifts involve showing our love through giving someone a tangible expression of our feelings, whether that’s a small treat or a lavish item.
Physical touch involves showing love through touching, hugging, or other hands-on affection.
But what is the love language of quality time? How can we show or experience love in this way? And how can it help us love God better?
What Is Quality Time?
Quality time is dedicating our full attention and dedicated time to the person we love. This could mean sitting together on the couch connecting, reading in a park together, hanging out after a long day, or taking a road trip.
It involves committing our undivided attention and focus to our special someone, eliminating all distractions, and letting them know that, through this gift of time, they are loved.
When it comes to our relationship with God, we can express our love through quality time, too. Faith is about relationship, not religion. It is important to carve out regular, uninterrupted, distraction-free time to spend with the Lord.
How Can I Show My Love Through Quality Time?
Typically, love is expressed through quality time not in the activity itself but rather in the moment, that sharing of space together.
One important thing is making sure to establish eye contact. This tells your loved one that you care, you see them, and you are focused on them.
Another is to stay in the moment with them. If you are sharing time with someone and then lose interest and turn your attention to your smartphone, the television, or someone or something else, then you are effectively withdrawing your time — and, to them, your love.
Be truly interested in what they are saying or feeling. Hear them, see them, and strive to understand them.
The concept of “bookending” can also help. Try your best to begin and end your day by spending quality time with your loved one. The middle portion of the day can be for work or other activities.
Again, this expression of love is not limited only to human relationships. When you spend time with God, try to remove distractions.
Leave your phone in the other room and try your best to declutter your mind. Work might beckon, but allow it to wait until your quality time with God is complete.
One picture of quality time in the Bible comes in Luke 10 when Jesus visits the home of Martha and Mary. Martha was busy and distracted preparing the meal, but Mary left everything else behind to sit at the Lord’s feet and listen. Mary chose quality time.
What Are Activities I Can Do That Help Foster Quality Time?
Remember: it’s not about the activity. But there are activities you can select that help to cultivate better quality time.
For example, watching television or going to the movies isn’t always an ideal way to enjoy quality time because your attention is usually focused on a screen even if you are sitting right next to each other.
Rather, quality time is about attention.
Some examples of activities that help nurture and support quality attention moments could be taking a walk or exercising together, cooking a meal together, or going on a weekend getaway.
Playing cards or a board game is another example, as is doing a puzzle. Sometimes, couples take a class together, whether that’s ballroom dancing or learning Spanish.
Or trade off being teacher and student. If you can play piano and he’s always wanted to learn, teach him.
In exchange, he can teach you to play guitar. Anything that cultivates quality time and quality attention between the two of you is helpful and good.
It’s much the same with God. Some people like to spend time with God in nature or enjoy a quiet cup of coffee while reading the Bible and “listening” to God’s teaching.
Some people meditate or pray during long road trips. Again, it’s not the activity but the focus that matters.
What If My Partner Doesn’t ‘Speak’ My Language?
We all give and receive love differently. First, recognize this. Then, try your best to understand your love language and your partner’s.
It’s important that you receive love in the way that makes you feel appreciated and that you give love in a way that makes your special someone feel appreciated.
If you don’t feel like your partner is showing you love in the way you need, gently express this to them. Maybe they are a “physical touch” person and believe they are showing you love because they constantly hold your hand.
Let them know that while you enjoy this, what truly makes you feel loved is something else. And then clearly give them some examples of what you feel you need.
This works both ways. Make sure you are understanding your partner’s love language and reciprocating in a way that shows them love.
All the quality time in the world doesn’t mean much to a “gifts” person — but maybe while you are taking a hike with that “gifts” person, you could find them a pretty wildflower or river rock and present it to them at the end of the day. That’s speaking their language.
Jesus focused a lot on quality time. He shared meals with His disciples and took long trips with them. He spent hours and hours teaching them.
And after the resurrection, when He returned to heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit to take up residence in our hearts — the ultimate gift of quality time.
Are there ways you could be spending more quality time with the Lord? How could that grow your relationship?
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Jessica Brodie is an award-winning Christian novelist, journalist, editor, blogger, and writing coach and the recipient of the 2018 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Award for her novel, The Memory Garden. She is also the editor of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate, the oldest newspaper in Methodism. Learn more about her fiction and read her faith blog at jessicabrodie.com. She has a weekly YouTube devotional, too. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and more. She’s also produced a free eBook, A God-Centered Life: 10 Faith-Based Practices When You’re Feeling Anxious, Grumpy, or Stressed.