Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Reclaiming time together

     When couples first marry, it is sometimes hard for them to imagine life without ample time for each other; sharing together, playing together, eating meals together, and enjoying a general oneness in life.  In the dating phase, we often make sure the other person knows how significant they are to us.  We do whatever we can to make sure they are our first priority.  We go out of our way to plan special dates, participate in activities with each other, and invest ourselves in a shared life.
     But life happens.  Jobs change, schedules rearrange, children come along, obligations grow, personal or family health issues arise, and eventually if a couple is not careful, a husband and wife can become two ships passing in the night, hard-pressed to have the presence of mind to even pass a note between them.
     The two biggest indicators of a person’s priorities are where he/she spends his/her time and money.  We can almost always make time for the things that we consider to be important.  Regrettably, our culture typically values busyness and a sense of individualized self-worth more than it does relationships.  Our society also treats recreation time as something that you work into an otherwise busy schedule when you can, but it should never be allowed to become the priority.  So, we drastically minimize the “power of play” in creating a healthy, vibrant marriage.  Think about it.  Virtually everyone enjoys being with someone they can smile and laugh with, be relaxed around, and have fun with.  When a couple begins to lose their time together, the first place that is normally sacrificed is play time.  So, if a couple is not careful, they will find themselves growing apart, thinking they have nothing in common with each other, and seeing their spouse as someone they no longer believe they can have fun with.
     What does the way you prioritize your time say about your marriage?  For the next month, take this challenge.  Make a committed, purposeful effort to reclaim at least thirty minutes per week of time with your spouse.  While that might not seem like much, it is a great beginning point for affirming (or reaffirming) where your mate falls on your list of priorities.  Just remember though, reclaiming and repurposing that time will likely mean making some choices.  It might mean giving up some TV or computer time.  It might mean skipping a guys’ night out for a husband’s night in.  It might mean putting the kids to bed a little earlier, or getting up to take a walk together before everyone else rises.  It might mean a little less hobby time here or there.  It might mean making the effort to find more shared activities you and your spouse can do together.
     Whatever it looks like in your context, your spouse will appreciate the attention and focus.  And don’t wait for the elusive “later” to begin.  (“We’ll have more time together after I get a new job/ we make this move/ the baby is born/ the baby is more self-sufficient/ the kids get in middle school/ the kids get out of high school/ we’re not paying for college/ your parents’ health improves/ I retire…”  take your pick.  There are always reasons to delay prioritizing more time together with your spouse.)  Just thirty minutes a week.  Your marriage is worth far, far more than whatever inconveniences you might have to endure to make it happen.

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