If time is the currency of a relationship, is your marriage rich or poor?
Nothing affects the culture of your marriage more than spending time together.
When I recently booked a place to spend a writing retreat to work on my forthcoming book Pump Up the Passion, I purposefully chose the week of Jenni’s fall break (she’s a teacher). Although the purpose of the trip was to complete the draft of the book, it came amidst a season of extensive travel for me, and I knew we also needed time together. So we went away together, I got my draft finished, and Jenni and I had a marvelous time enjoying nightly fire pits and s’mores and restoring our connection.
But time together doesn’t have to mean big trips. It mostly comes down to being intentional and making space in your life for each other.
A Daily Dose of Togetherness
Time together every day spent in genuine connection is much more important in sustaining your marriage than monumental trips you take every once in a great while.
It can be hard to prioritize one-on-one time on a daily basis. Life can be crazy busy, especially when there are young kids in the house. I get that. Even as empty-nesters, my wife and I still have to work hard to maintain our connection on a daily basis. As I’ve said before, it is really easy to put your marriage on auto-pilot and to save prioritizing one-on-one time for “later,” when things settle down.
Autopilot is easy. It’s also dangerous. And later never comes.
What About Me-Time?
When life is crazy and stressful, I understand the pull of just wanting a little “me time.” If you have young kids, when the little ones are finally down for the night, it’s natural to want to vegetate with the TV or a good book. Time together can seem like another demand – another thing on your overwhelming list. Same goes for when you work a demanding job that tends to suck the life out of you.
But, as important as taking care of yourself is, it’s also necessary to sacrifice some of your “me time” for the sake of keeping your marriage strong. Don’t think of your marriage as something on your to-do list. You and your spouse are one. You have a covenant with each other. There is nothing else on your to-do list that you can say that about.
Time is the currency of relationships, and when you neglect time together it will leave your marriage feeling deprived and depleted. On the other hand, if you prioritize keeping your marriage strong by staying intimately connected to your spouse, it will actually energize you to do the rest of your life! Jenni and I often say that if we are good and feeling connected, we know we can face whatever comes our way. But when our intimacy level suffers, everything else is harder.
Learn to Say No
Chronic busyness has become epidemic. We tend to load up every minute in a frantic attempt to “do it all,” and we leave no margin. Further, we often don’t leave room for the most important relationship we have: the one with our spouse.
Richard Swenson, in his excellent book, Margin (aff link), explains the margin crisis this way. “Margin is the gap between rest and exhaustion, the space between breathing freely and suffocating.” The concept of margin is so important that I have dedicated most of a chapter in Pump Up the Passion to margin and how to reclaim it.
Somehow we think “He/She loves me, he’ll/she’ll understand how things are. We will find time later.” As empty-nesters, Jenni and I feel like we are busier than we have ever been, so don’t count on things slowing down in your future. Life just gets more demanding and margin erodes further unless you continually guard against it.
Don’t relegate your marriage to leftovers. Truthfully, there isn’t usually anything left over after you are done pouring yourself into all that you have signed yourself up for (or allowed others to sign you up for).
Bob Goff (author of “Love Does”) quits something every Thursday. I love that idea. Maybe weekly is a bit extreme, but it’s a great idea to regularly examine our lives in order to prune away the excess activities we’ve accumulated that don’t line up with our priorities.
What can you quit this week? What are you spending your time and energy on that God has not called you to? What are you willing to cut back for the sake of improving the culture of your marriage through regular time together?
How do you manage to get regular time together with your spouse? Share your thoughts in a comment.
If you identify with the problem of living with no margin in your crazy-busy life, I highly recommend Richard Swenson’s book Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives