I really need to go gym and exercise this morning. Before that though, I need to help my wife get the kids ready for school because she’s got to get ready for her job too. When I finally get to the gym, I’m so rushed that I wonder if it was really worth coming. When I get to the office this morning, I’ll have 7 emails to respond to, 4 phone calls to make, and I’ll need to finish the report that I didn’t have time to finish yesterday afternoon. All of that needs to be done before my 9:00 staff meeting (that I’m leading and haven’t even begun to prepare for). By the end of the work day I will have been in 3 more meetings (two of which were planned, and one that just popped up but had to be taken care of). The lunch hour is split between a 2-month-delayed “catch up” time with a friend, and going to the bank, the post office, and two places to pay bills. A co-worker pops into my office in the late afternoon and asks for 5 minutes to get advice on a project, and before I know it, it is 45 minutes later. When I finally leave the office, my mind is in over-drive. How I will fit in the things that I had to table until tomorrow with the all the other things tomorrow will bring? As I pull into the driveway 30 minutes later than what I told my wife I’d be home, I notice the yard needs mowing, but that will have to wait because two kids have soccer practice at two different fields in half an hour. As I walk in the house the box with my daughter’s new dresser that needs to be put
together still lies on the floor unopened. After soccer practice and helping with homework, its bath and bed time for the kids. I feel guilty for rushing them to bed without a family devotional time, but I know I’ll feel worse doing it because they are tired and will fuss and fight through the whole thing. I try to help my wife with some house cleaning and packing the kids’ lunches for the next day, but I get side-tracked because the dog needs to be walked and fed. When my wife and I finally fall into bed, we watch a little TV, maybe share a few highlights of the day (if we don’t fall asleep first), and then we wake up the next morning to do it all again.
Sound familiar? One of the biggest complaints for many couples is a lack of time for each other. It happens in different ways at different phases of life, but work, children, caring for aging parents, personal obligations, church obligations, unplanned events like sickness or tragedy, going back to school, or any number of other obstacles can destroy a couple’s time together.
So, what do we do? Work has to be done, children have to be cared for, the house has to be cleaned, and people need us. We have so much to do, we can’t do it all, so we constantly feel exhausted and guilty. Occasional date nights or vacations with our spouses are nice, but the layers of fatigue and stress often can’t be peeled away in such a very, very short time.
Ultimately, it is up to each individual couple to decide how they will manage their time, but here are a few things every couple needs to remember:
Never forget that where you spend your time is one of two main indicators of your priorities (the other is where you spend your money, but that’s a post for another day). If your marriage is important to you, you will find a way to carve out meaningful time for your spouse. Finding time together may mean that other things have to be sacrificed, but growing your marriage is worth whatever you give up to do so.
Attend to the important first, not the urgent. There will always be some “voice” screaming for your time and attention. Most of us choose to live a frenetic, adrenaline-driven lifestyle. Let me say that again, "most of us choose..." Learn to say “no” occasionally, and if you have a hard time saying it, ask your mate to help you to say “no” when necessary.
Understand the necessity of a regular couple’s Sabbath time. God created us to need regular rest and recovery. We need it physically and we need it spiritually. Couples need to be proactive in using that time to come closer to each other as they come closer to God. It must be prioritized, put on the calendar, and protected zealously.There will never be enough time to do everything you want to do. Remember what’s really important in the long run, and don’t let your marriage become a casualty of a lifestyle that devours godly, healthy relationships.
If you are in the Middle Tennessee area, I will be presenting a session based on The Marriage-Friendly Church at the Caring Connections Conference, Friday, May 10, 2013 from 10:15 to 11:30 a.m. Go to agapenashville.org for more info and to register. Be sure to mention that you heard about the conference here on The Marriage Blog.
Top photo image credit: <a href='http://www.123rf.com/photo_11461925_businessman-adjusting-his-tie-while-looking-at-laptop.html'>inspirestock / 123RF Stock Photo</a>