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Couple power: take the time to reinforce your relationship

In a new series with Green & Black’s chocolate, we send couples to spend quality time with each other to experience the true value of finding time to reconnect

David Quinn and Jean-Marc Pillaud have been together since 2001 and were married in 2016. Pillaud is originally from the south of France and came to Dublin in 2000. Quinn is originally from Monaghan, and they both now live and work in Dublin city centre.

Although the Dublin-based couple spend lots of time together during the week and at weekends, they say they have truly learned what “quality time” means for them after a two-night stay in Magherintemple Lodge near Ballycastle in Co Antrim.

They made the most of this “beautiful house”, as well as visiting nearby sights like the Giant’s Causeway on their weekend on the northern coast, all the while enjoying some of the latest range of products from Green & Black’s.

How did you meet?

David: We met at a dinner party in 2001. We were both dating other people but we just clicked. It was [initially] a friendly click as we both thought, 'Oh my God, this person has a similar outlook on life'.

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So we decided to sneak off together for a weekend in Galway to see how far we would like to take it. It was brilliant. Then we came back to Dublin and we decided that we were going to give it a go. We didn’t want to lose what we had found. We dated for a little while and moved in together about a month-and-a-half after we met, and we’ve been together ever since.

Jean Marc: We are never really apart. We are very separate in the things that we like in terms of our hobbies. I'm into sports and cooking, David is a science fiction fan.

But we both have a real love for adventure and new things and we do love to travel together and meet new cultures and people, and I think that’s why we clicked.

Do you think you get enough quality time together?

David: We are never really apart, but I think this weekend made us realise that we need a different type of quality time. This year has been particularly busy for both of us, so we haven't really had that much quality time in terms of a weekend away.

We would come home and relax at the weekend, but you’re still in the same environment and you’re having the same conversations about what you want to do with the house, or work or finances.

This weekend allowed us to switch off from all of that. There was no TV in the lodge, which was fantastic. It allowed us to have different conversations, outside of the normal, everyday chats. It was lovely to not have to think about anything, it was really, really nice.

Jean-Marc: We went to the Giant's Causeway, we went to the Bushmills Distillery. It just gave us a little break from the norm. It was such beautiful countryside, there was greenery and sheep and the sea. It was really relaxing.

What did you do for your weekend?

David: We left work on Friday and drove to Ballycastle. We went to the first fish and chip shop that we could find and got ourselves dinner and then we went to the lodge. It was just lovely. Everything about it was beautiful.

We got up early on Saturday and went into Ballycastle and had an Ulster fry – that was great. Then we drove to the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge and to the Giant’s Causeway. We had both really wanted to go to the Giant’s Causeway as both of us had never been before and the rope bridge was so much fun.

On Saturday it rained from the minute we got up until the next day, really, but we didn’t care. We had a laugh about it. We were going to go to a restaurant for dinner but we enjoyed the lodge so much that we just wanted to go back to it. So we got a takeaway and it was just nice to be there with that and the Green & Black’s and not have to cook. It was lovely.

How important is it to spend quality time together?

Jean-Marc: I think it's really important to break the routine. Reconnecting with your partner is the key to a good relationship, I believe. You always have a new moment to share or a memory to create.

David: You get into a routine of '9-to-5': come home, do the dinner and have 'How was your day?' kind of conversations and 'What's on TV?' But this weekend we did reconnect.

We had a laugh, it was just so nice. It was a special time. I have been thinking about it all week. Not that our relationship needs to rekindle – we are very much in love – but it definitely rekindled something, kind of like a spark. It’s hard to put into words. It was definitely a different feeling than we would normally have after a weekend.

Do you think chocolate adds an extra romance to quality time?

David: Yes. We loved the Green & Black's chocolate . The 'Velvet' range that they have introduced is beautiful. It's just lovely chocolate and it was a lot of fun to share it together. It gave the whole thing that extra bit of decadence in front of the fire while the rain fell outside.

Will you recreate anything from your weekend away at home?

Jean-Marc: There are things like switching off the TV, not having the radio on, just silence sometimes and having conversation ourselves. And the chocolate of course.

David: It's not even just TV, it's also the phone. We had no 4G up there so we were switched off from all social media and no television and just us. That's important.

I think you forget that because you’re so engrossed in your phone or social media or television that you can forget that the other person that you’re in a relationship with is right beside you, and they are the person you should be giving time to.

It reminded us how valuable it is just to do small things together.

Did this weekend away remind you of why you fell in love in the first place?

David: Yes. It's been in my mind all week. I remembered the excitement that Jean-Marc experiences when we're in a new place and we're doing something. It reminded me of our weekend in Galway, our very first weekend away together.

How did you feel afterwards? Did you learn anything?

Jean-Marc: Since I turned 40, I've realised how time passes really quickly and that family and friends are so important. You really have to take time out. We all have really busy lives but family is a blessing and they are the people that really love you and look after you. It should be a priority for everyone.

David: We feel revitalised after this weekend. It took all the normal stresses of everyday life away. We got to recharge our batteries. We were so relaxed, we slept so well. I definitely feel that this week I have more energy, my brain feels more alive again. We feel more together.

How will you remember the weekend?

David: I have had quite a bit of stress this year and this time spent together reminded me that there are other things that are way more important than paying bills and thinking about your job. Jean-Marc: Adventure, fun, romance and reconnection.

Connecting with Green & Black’s – about this series

Green & Black’s chocolate was founded in 1991 in the flat of husband and wife team Craig Sams and Jo Fairley and to this day it retains their original commitment to ethical production and great taste.

Green symbolises the brand’s commitment to ethically-sourced cocoa while black stands for the high quality and delicious taste of the chocolate. Over the years, Green & Black’s has continued to grow and innovate with the introduction of the enchanting Velvet Edition range. The range offers a variety of signature flavours for all tastes in a smooth, velvety finish – dark chocolate but not as you know it.

This premium range also includes Green & Black’s Velvet pouches – a luxurious mélange of dark chocolate and real fruit as well as the latest additions of Green & Black’s decadent praline and truffle single bars ensuring that there is something for every occasion, be it enjoying on your own or sharing in indulgent moments.

For more, see greenandblacks.com