Pyschology Of Relationship – Time Structuring

The psychology of relationships: time structuring

Applying the concept of time structuring

The concept of time structuring can be a simple way to assess how much “quality time” you spend with people, and your partner in particular. Think about the different ways you spend your time.

When do you go into withdrawal, rituals, pastiming, activity, games, and intimacy? Remember, that a bit of each is necessary, and that depending on what type of person you are (introvert or extrovert) you will feel more comfortable in some modes than others.

However, we all need real intimacy and that’s also often the mode we fear and avoid most.

Real intimacy means being open to the other in the moment, and feeling connected and present emotionally. So, intimacy can mean having conflict or disagreeing, whilst on the other hand having sex, say, doesn’t necessarily mean you are being (emotionally) intimate.

To make this exercise more structured, I recommend you draw yourself a little diagram, like a timetable.

You just need two columns, one for weekdays and one for weekend days. Then, where the times go in the rows, put down getting up, mornings, lunchtime, afternoon, early evening, evening and bedtime. It should look something like this:



Weekend days

Getting up




Early evening



Once you’ve done that, start thinking about which mode you are in at that particular time, say weekday mornings, or weekend lunchtime. Put a mode of time structuring into each space and then review it. How does your chart look?

How much quality time do you spend with people? You could also think about with whom do you spend your quality time?

For example, some people find it easier to be emotionally intimate with their children, but not with anybody else, including their partners.

Once you have evaluated your chart, think about what you want to change. For most of us in the western world, there will be a lack of relaxed intimate time with our loved ones. If that is the case for you, write down at least 10 ways to change it.

Be spontaneous, write down any options that come to mind even if they sound impossible or impractical. You can evaluate your options later.

Remember that as an adult you always have options, so if you end up with only two things, you are either not taking up your options (also see the section on discounting) or you are not letting yourself be creative.