“Oh! Teach us to live well! Teach us to live wisely and well! Psalm 90:12 (MSG)
There are “savers” and “spenders.” Judging by the average debt for couples, this country is filled with “spenders.” At the same time, looking at a high divorce rate, we have a country of “savers.” In other words, we spend money we don’t have and misuse the time with our spouse.
Stewardship is really a huge issue in marriage. While I’m not going to turn this into a financial marriage blog, I will turn attention to how much time we spend (or don’t spend) upon our marriage.
Please know: You need to work (provision is important). You need alone time (we all do). You need recreation that may or may not include your spouse (I’m not against that). But marriages that are time-starved are adding steroids to issues that have no right exploding to the size they’ve become. Conflict is inevitable. But when you are depriving your marriage of time, it escalates the size of a molehill into a mountain.
Think about it.
How many misunderstandings could have been avoided by spending time talking to each other in a civilized way?
How many issues are exaggerated because no one has taken the time to talk through things at appropriate moments?
How much assumption is inserted into marriage because nobody thought to take the time to communicate?
How many couples are time-starved because, even though time was spent, it wasn’t quality time?
What amounts of stress is being placed upon the marriage because time isn’t budgeted properly?
How many couples act like two ships passing in the night because it’s been so long since they’ve planned alone time?
Wrap your mind about what you two are struggling over and ask yourself, “Have we spent quality time together? If we had, could this issue have been avoided?” (Notice I said “quality time” and not just time…there’s a difference.”
Life is busy. We’ll catch up later.
Life is always busy. But in the name of providing, parenting, and even ministry, we’ve sacrificed time from the one who needs time the most. I love my kids (as they need time too). But what use is it to them for me to deprive my wife of quality time so that we fall apart when they’re graduated and gone? What legacy/example to I have my kids if I deprive my spouse
You two need intimacy. And intimacy is essential to a healthy marriage. It doesn’t have to cost any money. But it will cost you time. What are you waiting for? Are you “saving” the moments up for a weekend away? Are you waiting for the right moment to give “quality time.” Time is a currency that you cannot save for later. It cannot be saved. You must invest it. And outside of a relationship with Jesus, the best place to invest it is in your spouse.
Here’s 5 practical investment tips on time and marriage:
1 – Take the initiative. Stop waiting for the other person to get motivated. Get out of the childish (and selfish) mindset of “I won’t if he/she won’t.” Put time on the calendar. I do. I block off time for my wife and my family. I block off time for me to be home to get stuff done (sometimes just being home is huge…especially for a quality time-driven person like my wife). Whatever you do, be the one to take the initiative and fight for time together.
2 – Walk through your week together. Anne and I have a standing appointment every Sunday night. Most of the time, we do it on a walk (good cardio + good communication) but we take a few moments to go over the week. When we do a “flyover” of our week, it gives us a chance to look at our two schedules and talk through what to expect. We both have Google calendars (which are shared so we can see what each other is planning). Those walks help prepare us for our weekly schedule and prevent fights and misunderstandings. It gives us a week-by-week perspective.
3 – Frequent Dates. You are harshing the buzz of your marriage by not consistently/frequently dating your spouse. It doesn’t have to be expensive financially. But investing in intimacy will cost you time. Young in our marriage, dates were as simple as hitting up McDonalds at Midland Mall for an ice-cream cone and walking together. Hit up Redbox and microwave some popcorn. Just pick a time conducive for you two and do something that your spouse wants to do. Just get back to dating and do it frequently.
4 – Maximize moments. Life is busy all by itself. Add children into the equation, and it’s pandemonium. Especially with little ones around and the expense of babysitters, you look for moments to maximize. From going home for lunch during your child’s nap to scheduling time when the kids go to bed, find times to develop quality moments with each other. Anne and I used to tape (yes with a VCR) our shows during the week and use specific evenings to make popcorn and enjoy Jack Bauer and Gil Grissom solve criminal activities. Here’s another tip: Connect with a few other families and trade evenings every few weeks where you watch the other family’s kids so that you can have a night out.
5 – Rotate between “tastes.” Don’t let your definition of quality time be the ONLY definition you work with. Quality time by my definition usually involved two things: Sports and/or sex (why not combine the two?). Anne’s definition of quality time doesn’t have anything to do with either one of them. She likes shopping, coffee, walking with me, and frozen yogurt (which sometimes gets combined). I work with couples all the time, who have time together, but they feel it’s dominated by the preference of one spouse. Trade back and forth on how your time will be spent together.
They say time is our most precious commodity. Whether you realize it or not, it WILL be spent on something. It’s up to you to choose what it is being spent upon. Don’t wait to spend it on each other when the kids are older. Don’t wait till the kids are out of the house. Be liberal with your spending. Splurge your time on your spouse.
Lord, teach us to live wisely and well with our time (Psalm 90:12).
Thanks for letting me ramble…