Have you ever sat on the couch with your significant other after a hard day of work and felt guilty because you were watching TV instead of out eating at some new restaurant, hanging out with friends, or trying something you’ve never done before? While those are all good things, it turns out they aren’t essential to a happy relationship (who knew?).
As Quartz‘s Cassie Werber describes, researchers at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland found that watching TV series and movies, reading books, or engaging in other forms of seemingly mundane entertainment can have the same impact on the health of a relationship as spending time out with friends or having any number of other shared-world experiences. As the perpetually exhausted parent of a two-and-a-half-year-old with another on the way, I find this to be very good news.
The key, it seems, isn’t so much what you’re doing but that you’re engaging in it with each other. Shared experiences, whatever they may be, help to draw us closer together and create new pathways for our lives to connect. Those connections are a fundamental aspect of a healthy relationship.
That need for shared experience has been part of God’s plan from the start. When he created Eve, he did so because he knew that it wasn’t good for people to do life alone (Genesis 2:18). And when he then called her Adam’s “helper,” or “indispensable partner” as commentator Kenneth A. Matthews translates it, he did so to indicate their need for one another in order to accomplish all that God purposed for their lives. In short, man and woman were created to experience life together and each is better because of it.
While that sense of community has expanded since the garden to include extended family, friends, colleagues, and the larger body of Christ, there remains something special about that bond between a husband and wife. That bond is strengthened by time spent together, whatever the experience might be.
So if God has blessed you with a spouse or significant other, treasure that bond and remember that there’s no such thing as wasted time so long as you’re wasting it with each other. And if that relationship hasn’t come yet or, for one reason or another, has ended, look for ways that the Lord wants to bring that similar sense of community into your life and embrace those opportunities to do life with others. It’s no better for people to be alone now than it was at the very beginning. Why does that truth matter for you today?