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Some Tips for a Close and Healthy Intimate Relationship
By Aline Zoldbrod   View more articles by this author
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August 14
Research has shown that being in a close and healthy intimate relationship is good for our health. But what exactly constitutes a close and healthy relationship? Well, while there are no absolute rules about how to have the perfect relationship, it helps to keep in mind what I call The Four T’s: Time, Talk, Trust, and Touch.   In this article, we’ll look at the importance of the first one: Time.
 
Time spent together in a meaningful, connected way is crucial. What do I mean by meaningful or mindful time spent together? Well, we’re not talking about two exhausted hulks spending the evening side by side, silently watching a TV show, no matter how good the show is. (Honest—even if it’s on educational TV!) We’re not talking about time spent in the same dwelling, with each of you pursuing totally separate activities---one person on the computer, the other cooking. We’re not talking about time spent discussing who is going to run which errand and who will complete each practical task. Sure, good relationships have time like this spent together, and it wouldn’t even be good not to have time like this, but it simply isn’t sufficient to maintain a bond of attachment to each other.
 
In the beginning of many romantic relationships, there is a huge rush to spend time together, to get to know each other, to find similarities, to bond. As relationships progress and become more serious, partners gauge the other person’s commitment and intent by whether or not you are spending time together. Think of it, you know that a relationship is “heating up” when you start seeing each other frequently. Time is the great marker of how high you rate on the other person’s list. Does your partner bump other people and well-loved hobbies and even other obligations in order to be with you when you need them? In that lustful and romantic phase, and it’s short lived, to be sure, other friendships, old interests and hobbies, and even family-of-origin duties are bumped to make emotional and physical space for the emergence of a new and important attachment to the new person. Secrets are shared, favors are asked and granted, and a new person who was a stranger months ago becomes indispensable.
 
Once relationships solidify, and especially as normal work commitments, financial obligations, and parenting duties increase, it is common for partners to cut back on devoting time to each other, citing many practical obstacles, like scheduling problems, fatigue, or the ever present problem of getting babysitters. This time-drought is the biggest issue I see in the couples who come to me because they’re having problems. The two of them have become distant from each other because each of them has let other priorities overwhelm their lives.
 
No matter how high the “quality” of the time you spend with your partner, if you’re only having one or two hours a week of “tummy time”—face to face, eyeball to eyeball, contact, that’s not enough time to get reacquainted, to have fun together, or to create memories of good times which will sustain you through difficult patches.
 
One point to remember is that the more hectic life has gotten, the more likely it is that getting this special joint time to happen will take planning. Put it on your schedule, like you would a doctor’s appointment, something important to your health and wellbeing.
 
Because it is that. And creating this kind of meaningful time together need not be expensive. It could be a drive in the car listening to your favorite music and talking, or taking some food out of your refrigerator and making an impromptu picnic at a scenic spot close to home. So if you want to begin to improve your relationship, start by increasing the meaningful time you spend together. It will be the foundation upon which the other important T’s—talk, trust, and touch, are built.
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