Humans are made for relationship. We need each other to live well and flourish. But who exactly do we spend most of our time with and what does that tell us?
A survey by American Time Use Survey and data from Our World in Data showed who Americans are spending their time with at different stages of life. (Keep in mind that those surveyed seemed to be people whose life trajectory followed the same basic path — marriage, children, and jobs that include colleagues.)
According to the data, and as you might expect, we spend more time with friends and family when we are teens, and then colleagues come into play as we enter the workforce. We spend a lot of time with our kids in our adult years but it’s short lived because they grow up quickly. Time with our spouse increases steadily over our adult years, growing exponentially as we age.
But by far, the person we spend the most time with throughout our lives — and it significantly increases the older we get — is ourselves.
So what lessons can we draw from this?
First, marry someone you enjoy spending time with, because if you’re both blessed to life a long life, your time together is only going to intensify as you get older.
Second, cherish the time you have with your children, because while it may be chaotic and all-consuming, it’s a very short amount of time in the context of your entire life — especially if you live a normal life span.
Third, work at liking yourself, because that’s who you spend most of your time with throughout your entire life. And time alone is richer and more meaningful when you realize that you are actually never by yourself — God is with you and wants a relationship with you. At every stage of life, being alone offers you an opportunity to pray, to ponder, to learn, and to talk with God.
So be conscious of who you spend time with and how to make the most of the relationships that are the most important. Every moment we have with them and with ourselves is a gift.