How Much Time Should a Couple Spend Together?

I recently watched the dumbest segment imaginable about this subject on a morning news show. The author hawking her book had little charts and basically said, if a couple spends 70% of their time together, that’s too much, and if they spend 20% of their time together that is not enough.

I was watching this in the waiting room at the OB/GYN doctor’s office, with a bunch of other gals waiting for their appointments. One woman said out loud, “That’s asinine. If I had to spend 70% of my time with my husband, I’d wind up killing him.”

A couple of the other gals chimed in, and I paid close attention. 

One woman said she was in business with her boyfriend, if they weren’t supposed to spend more than 70% of their time together they would lose everything.

That’s a problem with the cut and dry percentages the author created. “Together” wasn’t defined. By “together” does that mean any time they are in the same room at all, even if they are working? Or with the kids? Don’t some people consider “together” time to mean quality time as a couple?

Another woman who hadn’t been involved in the initial chit-chat popped her head up and inserted her thoughts. She sounded ticked off as she said, “How dare they say 20% isn’t enough. How would they know what my life is like? My partner and I both have careers. We both love our work. We both travel a lot. Who is she to say we can’t have a good relationship if we each give priority to our careers?”

And she’s right. Some people are very independent. They have a life. They have strong goals, big careers, they have very absorbing work that they choose to submerse themselves in. Some aren’t quite that extreme but still have priority in other aspects of their lives.

And then in stark contrast, there are people that give 110% to their relationships. Just as some people can’t fathom putting their career first, others can’t fathom being that dependant on their relationships for the core of their lives.

By narrowmindedly deciding 70% if your time together is too much and 20% is not enough, each extreme is judged unfairly. 

Another woman who admitted her and her boyfriend had only been dating a few months, admitted that she didn’t think 70% was enough. She wanted to be with her bf all the time. She probably texted him 12 times just in the half hour we were all sitting there.

Just before I was called in for my appointment, the very adorable woman next to me spoke. She works a night shift as a waitress and her husband works a day job. They have 4 kids. She said they work very hard on their schedule, making sure someone is always there for the kids, going to games and whatever, enlisting the help of a live-in grandparent, making sure mommy and daddy each get kid-interaction time. And that Sundays is just “theirs.” They leave Grandma and the kids and the house about noon each Sunday and they don’t return until that evening. She said sometimes they go shopping, sometimes they plan for a movie, in nicer weather they go to the park, or for a hike, or an outing, but mostly, they just go someplace to cuddle, make love, talk, veg-out, do crosswords, read in quiet while holding hands, discuss finances and make plans for their homestead. They steal around 6 or 8 hours every week just for them.

She said, honestly, that’s it. That’s all the time they get together. For most of the week they barely see each other. They communicate on white boards in the kitchen and through texts and emails. She looked concerned as she asked if we all really thought that whole 20% is not enough thing was a bunch of junk.

 Everyone assured her that the woman in TV was nuts, and that what she was doing sounded awesome. She smiled, relieved. You could see how much she cared about her marriage and her family, and how hard she worked at these relationships while having to wait tables at night to make ends meet. 

I got the opportunity to speak with the professional woman later in the parking lot. Turns out she is an executive with a very high profile charity in which she believes very strongly. Her partner is a marine biologist, who goes out to sea on long research expeditions. They both feel very passionate about their work, they both honor the other’s choice and commitment. She said she couldn’t imagine being with someone that wasn’t as independent and as dedicated to their career as she is. 

The Bottom Line

The only time you and your partner have a problem regarding how much time you spend together, is when you are unhappy.  For example if one of you wants more time together than the other, that’s an issue you have to work on together.

Some people are really committed to their art, their volunteerism, their careers, their passions. This is a beautiful thing, but this type of person would most likely do best in a relationship with someone who is also fairly dependant and strong. It might not be wise for this person to get involved with someone who is up-your-ass-clingy completely dependent on you for their happiness all-the-time. 

Two healthy people should be able to gage their needs, mesh their lives and find that “percentage” that works for them, regardless of what works for anybody else.

Every couple is different. Every person has different needs. What works for some would never work for others. The key is communicating with your partner, being honest about what you really want, and working together.

It’s also important to realize that things change over time. Work, family, and other commitments will ebb and wane over the years. For example spending less time together now while careers are on the build may mean more time together later when careers have steadied. 

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24 comments

sheila b. profile image

sheila b. 6 years ago

You are so right!


shumie 6 years ago

Cheers! My partner and I did have some issues about spending out time together because he was always so busy. I think we spent very little of our time together then. The issues were discussed, and now, we spend around 15-20% of our time together. THough still much less than the 20-70%!


javinelly 6 years ago from san bernardino ca.

so nice to read this i just got merry 41/2 years ago and my partner and i lived with his family for 2o of those years and it was so hard to get any time toghter.Now we try to make up for it


Veronica profile image

Veronica 6 years ago from NY Author

Thanks javinelly, shumie and shelia b!

My husband and I vary too from year to year depending on work and things. It was bothersome to hear someone on TV saying there is an exact percentage of time that is correct. That's just not fair.


Iðunn 6 years ago

Bravo again, V. You said this:

"The only time you and your partner have a problem regarding how much time you spend together, is when you are unhappy. For example if one of you wants more time together than the other, that’s an issue you have to work on together."

I think all couples are different and have different needs and communication patterns and can vary considerably. You summed it up perfectly there.


Veronica profile image

Veronica 6 years ago from NY Author

Thanks again, Iðunn. You're so right, every couple has different needs, and as long as they can communicate and agree and compromise together, then they are right, no matter who else is doing what.

My grandparents were one of those cute little old couples that did everything together. They took out the trash together, they read the paper side by side. It worked for them, they were very happy for decades like that. I couldn't stand that. I'd be like, mother of god get off of me! Go get a hobbie! But that's just me. There's no right or wrong, as long as you and your partner have worked it out between the two of you :D


Iðunn 6 years ago

I need a fair amount of alone time, myself. Not out of the room or girl's day out or the like, but more just time to reflect, think, even brood sometimes. I'm a writer and this is how I process. I can't do clingy men who need 100% of my attention all the time. But I'm pretty attentive generally and lots of my think time might be about him. I clean, cook, do yoga or play tedious games and my mind just clicks and clicks processing recent input.

I do like physical closeness to a fair degree though, like just being able to look over and browse his thighz, and I'll touch and smile sometimes without saying anything... some chemical thing or another. It's just off and on all day long and I'm something of a caterer also, bring him his coffee, take his dinner to him, kiss him in odd places for no reason, even love to take baths with him. But in between, have to have some time I can just concentrate.


Liz 6 years ago

I unfortunately am on the side of those who are unhappy...I've done all the soul searching & I know what I need is a steady relationship & to have someone to share even 40% together just being near each other...I've found a wonderful man but the problem is I see him maybe once per month or so. He is always working or at school, unfortunately I met him at a time where he expresses wanting to settle down soon...but has not had a relationship in many many years & doesn't know how to work that back into his life. He is trying is trying & I am trying so hard to give him the time he needs.. I just wish I could see him a little bit more..


Kelsey 6 years ago

So many people always say that seeing your Significant Other at LEAST every other day is bad for your health or bad for your relationship. Everyone is different. It's like this, how many people like to wake up at 4 o'clock in the morning to go to work to write papers all day, not a lot do, but then again, how many people like to wake up at a more reasonable hour and go to work for 8 hours a day, not a lot of people like to do that either. Everyone is so different it's insane. Some worry about not seeing the person as much as they do now later on in the future. Let's say they spend time with each other every single day for the passed 7 months. They seem to be quite happy with it, that S/O worries that it will change, if they've been doing that for 7 months I'm sure it won't change. But then again, they're different people from the rest of the world. So saying 70% to 20% or comparing everybody's personal lives to yours is a big no-no. Your personal life is as unique as you are, so V, you're absolutely right, that is quite unfair. But I would love to spend every single day with my S/O even if it means just for a couple of hours, and he feels the same way! But that doesn't mean we DO spend every single day of our lives together, we just would like to.


Veronica profile image

Veronica 6 years ago from NY Author

Kelsey,

Thanks for the comment. Yep, there are many people who would like to spend more time with their partners, but can't because of distance, school, jobs, and other responsibilities. I think as long as you can communicate with your partner the amount of time you spend together can and will vary, and that should be ok.


MyMastiffPuppies profile image

MyMastiffPuppies 6 years ago

Veronica

I think you really summed it up in the end, everyone must figure out what works for them. My husband and I have been married almost 25yrs. There are times when we are together 24/7 and there have been times we were apart for weeks. It really takes a strong relationship to keep it all balanced, life kids, time together. Great hub!


Veronica profile image

Veronica 6 years ago from NY Author

Thank you MyMastiffPuppies. That's great that you and your husband can roll with the flow of life and manage your time together as it's available. You're right, that's a strong relationship right there :)


Midtown Girl profile image

Midtown Girl 6 years ago from Right where I want to be!

Couple time is so important. It is true that every couple has individual needs. The balance will always be shifting depending on life circumstances. The key is a willingness to agree on something that works for both partners. Nice hub!


hubpageswriter 6 years ago

Like the saying goes, absence makes the heart grows fonder. But I agree, too much time apart is going to cause problems in the relationship.


dawnM profile image

dawnM 6 years ago from THOUSAND OAKS

very interesting article and I agree with you, how can you give a statistic on how much time you should spend with your partner, each person is different.


gqgirl profile image

gqgirl 6 years ago from Georgia

I just came across this hub. And I think it's up to the couple to decide how much time together is to much time. My husband and I both work the night shift, at the same place. Which is where we met. We are usually only "apart" in the mornings when he is playing video games and I'm in here on my computer writing or fiddling around online. Other than that we are usually never apart for more than a few hours a day and it suits us just fine. :)


titobay profile image

titobay 6 years ago from US

I really feel its not the percentage of time spent together that really matters, its the quality. What's the point spending 70% of time together and you keep getting on each others nerves. I sometimes crave for time alone to reflect and think about issues, about writing, about blogging etc. The most important thing for me is to respect one another and create quality time to be together and make the best out of it. Just like i wrote in my article, we need to create space sometimes it adds value to relationships as we know, absence makes the heart grow fonder. Its not how long but how well.


REna 5 years ago

I'm in a relationship with someone who can only spend about 20% of their free time with me. I would love to have the opportunity to spend more time together. If we just can't make that happen, what I'd value would be to declare a specific day as being "ours". It would be nice to actually have a designated time when nobody can interfere.


Anna 5 years ago

I don't have any day to spend time with my bf. We just have a few minutes every day, which is not enough time for me at all. We need to make something different to get together, but I have no idea how I can do because he is not trying...


Allie  5 years ago

My boyfriend and I live together, and are even looking into relocating together. He is now saying we spend too much time together. I asked if he still wanted to live together and ge said yes. He confuses me. I have two jobs and one of them is as-needed at his job, so like 1-2 times a week we work together. Other than that we are only at home together. We both like being at home and his friends come over all the time, how do I give him space, and should we live together if he feels this way?


Tara 5 years ago

It was good to read because my boyfriend and i have been together a year. of course we are young and in love and we spend about more than 70% of our time around each other but we do our own thing and we acknowledge each other in the process, so of course there are people who are saying that we spend too much time together that spending 24/7 together is a bad thing. my boyfriend and i have talked about it and we have never had a problem with it we have been together for a year now and i believe that we really do love him. yeah we need time with our friends but i dont only look at my boyfriend as just my boyfriend he is my best friend as well so to spend time with my best friends is just as good as spending time with him. plus the only true friend i have lives 45 mins away from me so its hard to visit with them so i agree with the fact the the writer states that it is different for everyone you cant base someone else's relationship on your say oh well they spend too much time together that's why they cant stand each other


Mavhe Quijada profile image

Mavhe Quijada 5 years ago from Taguig

Hi Veronica, I just started following your hubs. It's a good thing that almost everything is applicable to everyone nowadays.

I just want to hear from you regarding my present relationship.

I have a boyfriend and this one is a childhood friend. Now, we both have a job and our working places are too far from each other. Also, I go to school at night. Before I went back to school, I mean when I was just working and not studying, we spent ample time together. We are satisfied. When I started school again, I thought there would be changes. Of course, began to become more busy. Then I realized I was wrong. He picks me up at home everyday and sends me to work. Then picks me up every night from school to send me back home. He stays at home until late in the evening to spend more time with me. During Sundays, no work, no school, we spend time together the whole day. Either we go for a trip or we're stay in my place to watch movie together or anything enjoyable. Do you think that's fine or we're over spending time together? If that's too much, what could be the possible effect to our relationship?

Hope you reply! Thanks and more powers!


Junegirl58 profile image

Junegirl58 5 years ago from Chicago, IL

I must say that after reading your hub and others on this website, can be quite exhilirating.

In reading your's, I can say that after being married for almost 26 years, I'm at the other end of this merry-go-round and can't decide if I want to get off or not.

We met and dated for four years before we got married and couldn't get enough of each other. There was a time we both worked downtown, we took the train together and then walked to work. After we got home, he lived a 1/2-hour away from me, we would maybe catch a movie or just chill together for a couple hours.

Now 25 years later, two daughters and a dog, that scene I just mentioned has really changed. His personality is the same, which is why I fell in love with him to begin with, but so much stress has gone on in the last 10-15 years that he's lost his ways of communicating and the romance is just not there anymore.

My daughters are now almost 21 and 23, the house is stress central. My husband has been unemployed for the past six months now and I have been working part-time in retail for the past four years. I've had some crazy hours but he's been okay with that and is also very handy around the house and has helped quite a bit with laundry, etc.

That's actually an understatement, he does alot around the house, not that I don't of course. But I feel that I cannot just sit down sometimes to read or check on email because then I hear don't you think you shouldbe doing this or that. And it's always around 9:00 or 10 p.m.

So, whether I get up at 4:30a.m. to leave for work by 5:30 & come home early and get things done, walk my two

miles, shower, dinner OR leave at 11:00 a.m. which gets me home around 5, make dinner, skip the walk, clean up kitchen, it's usually around 8:30 or 9:00 p.m.

With him home all the time now looking for work, he admitted to me that he's bored, he misses me and is tired of my hours. I just feel I get no "me-time" anymore.

He buts heads with both my daughters, one is working fulltime (home from college) and the other usually full time work, currently had to drop some hours to pick extra credit hours at the community college before going to her state school next spring. I hear cussing left and right, he raises his voice and the girls talk back to him all the time, really nasty sometimes.

He says things to my 22yrold that probably shouldn't have been said, but she pushed him, still feels though that she should step aside and apologize for her back-talk. But she's just as arrogant and strong-headed as he is. Now she's telling me that she applied for another job in Milwaukee and Indianapolis to get out of the house. In some ways my daughter makes a good point but on the other hand I don't think she realizes how disrespectful she has been.

It's always giving me a headache or just that "I want to get out of here" feeling before I say something I will regret. Finances are bad right now, what else can happen.

Just don't know what to do anymore....but I would like my best friend back, don't know how long it will take though.

I want my best friend back...


Vanessa Lind profile image

Vanessa Lind 5 years ago from Redmond, Washington

Nice posting!. I always felt the key was quality vs quantity.

I could "see" my partner every moment of every day, but if we didn't do anything like an activity or a dinner, anything that was specifically for the two of us i probably wouldn't really feel like we had spent time together.

co-existing in the same space, is not the same as spending time together.

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