Steve and I have been working with a couple that will be getting married soon. As we were gathering some things to share with them, tailoring it to the dynamics of their particular relationship, I came across some quotes that I’d like to share (because maybe you can find them helpful too, as we have). It deals with the subject of spending time together after marrying.
The question was posed to us:
“How do we fit time in with each other after we marry and especially when we have kids. There are so many demands on our time (for different reasons that seem important)?”
That’s a tough one because most of us struggle with that dilemma at some point (and sometimes continually). We sure do! As we told them (and others), there’s no pat answer. We all go through busy seasons. And what we need to do to still grow our relationship can be quite different.
But when the season pushes off from one season into another, and then another, and another, with no end in sight, BEWARE! Something is amiss. Some adjustments will need to be made somewhere because too much busyness over the long run can create chaos and cause real unhealthiness to develop within the marriage.
MAKE The Time
We NEED to make time for each other. That’s the dynamics of what we call a “relationship.” We aren’t to be ships that just pass each other while we’re on the run. There needs to be a true connection. And in a marriage, it needs to be a heart-to-heart connection. So sometimes we cut certain things out or quit them. Sometimes we cut back on this or that, which we can. Other times it’s a matter of learning to say, “No” when we should, and sometimes it’s a time and/or people management thing.
One thought occurs to me as I write this; is something I heard a long time ago, “if you’re too busy to be kind, then you’re too busy.” And that’s true. It’s easy to get “short” and sometimes just plain inconsiderate and mean with each other when things get too hectic. And that should never be. As we’re told in Colossians 3:12-14:
“Put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.“
We Can’t Do It All
It’s like what we told this couple, just because you CAN do something, and just because you WANT to do something, it doesn’t mean that you should. That’s especially true when it leads to us being unkind. We live in a world where we have so many choices to do a lot of fun, and great things (and many not-so-great things). But even Jesus didn’t keep going on tirelessly, when He was on earth. He took time to push away at times to spend time with God and family and friends and to rest, when it was needed.
It’s healthy, particularly for our marriages and family life, to choose the best and leave the rest. That’s not just a cleaver saying. It is also the truth. We can’t and shouldn’t do it all. If we try to do so, we eventually burn out and our relationships are left wanting (if they’re still around after a long stretch where they’ve been neglected).
On that note, here are a few quotes you might find enlightening (that we had previously posted on the Marriage Missions Facebook page). There are also related quotes you can read in Marriage Message #287 – Moving Toward God in Marriage.
- “Marriage is an anchor for your family, so investing in your marriage is investing in your family. Carve out time for two. For example: -Everyday, grab 5-10 minutes when you can touch base with each other. Share a cup of tea or coffee before the kids get up. -Plan regular dates. Our favorite is a ‘walk & talk’ date. -Plan a 24-hour getaway. If your kids protest, tell them you’re doing it for their own good.” (Dave and Claudia Arp, from the Todayschristianwoman.com article, “Partners or Parents?”)
- “Couples need to make the most of little opportunities, even if it’s only 10 to 20 minutes here or there. If couples wait for the semiannual vacation trip to connect, they will drift apart —two weeks a year is not enough together time. To keep their marriage healthy, couples need to connect every day” (even if it’s just finding pockets of time where we can together). (Kirk Cameron, from Thrivingfamily.com article, “At Home with the Cameron’s”)
Pockets of Time
That’s what we told this couple. Sometimes when it’s a busier season, even “pockets of time” that you MAKE for each other by shoving aside this or that, is better than spending no quality time together at all. And by doing so, you can hang on for a while, if you’re both focused on believing that this is what is best for the goal you are reaching for, during that season of your life together.
But it’s difficult for a relationship to grow richer on a steady long-term diet of tidbits and leftovers. Eventually, we crave more and in reality we SHOULD. After all, why get married if you intend on making everything and everyone else more of a priority than the one you vowed before God to “love, honor, and cherish” for the rest of your lives together? Are you really cherishing your spouse if you consistently aren’t spending quality time with him or her?
- “It’s hard to say ‘no’ to a crying baby. But as your children get a little older, don’t be afraid to tell them, ‘It’s Mommy and Daddy time right now.’ It’s also important to set boundaries for yourselves. It’s too easy to give our best time and energy away to everyone and everything else, other than your spouse. Let the dishes sit in the sink for a few minutes and carve out some time to reconnect with one another.” (Glen and Christie Hoos, from Growthtrac.com article, “Romance: Surviving the Diaper Phase”)
- “Plan a daily sharing time with your spouse. Couples who have a ‘sit down, look at me, let’s talk’ time each day have a higher level of intimacy than those couples who simply talk ‘whenever and whatever.’ So, what do you talk about in this daily sharing time? Just keep it simple. Here’s what I call the daily minimum requirement: ‘tell me 3 things that happened today. How do you feel about each of them?’” (Dr Gary Chapman, from book, “Covenant Marriage”)
Here’s Another Idea:
Steve and I usually ask each other the following 3 questions each day:
• Did anything positive or exciting happen to you today?
• Did anything sad or disappointing happen today?
• What did God show you NEW today?
“Spend time with friends but NEVER FORGET YOUR FIRST LOVE. Your spouse must take top priority, though this shouldn’t minimize the significance of friends. Don’t ignore friendships and more importantly, don’t ignore God or your spouse …Friendship is special. Keep it that way and don’t let friends undermine your character or your marriage.” (Dr Steve Stephens, from book, “Marriage: Experiencing the Best”)
Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions International wrote this blog.