Let’s just be honest, we’re too busy as families and couples today. We’re so busy trying to do everything that we want to do, or are expected to do, that we don’t have time to slow down and enjoy the life that we have together. As the old saying goes, “We’re so busy trying to make a living that we fail to make a life.”
As a pastor I find that this is increasingly true in many marriages – mine included. There’s just so much to get done and not enough time in the day to do it. Wouldn’t you love for there to be just three or four more hours in a day? Some days I’d settle for just ten more minutes.
See if my family’s schedule sounds remotely similar to yours. At the Whitt house we normally wake up about six o’clock in the morning to the sound of my three year old son’s cries for chocolate milk. We rush to get everybody fed, clothed, brushed and in room time. Then I’m either out the door or at my desk. There are appointments to keep and visits to be made. My wife spends the day chasing and teaching our children, cleaning the house and preparing meals. I normally have time to stop in for dinner before there is a meeting to attend or a message to preach. If I get home in time I help bathe the kids and get them dressed and ready for bed. Kim will normally read a bedtime story to LK and Jack before we have our time of family devotions. We’ll pray with and for each other, and then send the kids to bed. Kim will often spend some time preparing for a Bible study she teaches or looking over the kids lessons for the next day, while I will spend some time reading and writing and hopefully get to bed before midnight.
So, does your day resemble mine? The early mornings and late nights. The rushing from ballet lessons to birthday parties. The church services and doctor’s appointments. The quick trip to the mountains or the beach. Some time together at the dinner table and in family devotions. And then whatever spare time you can scratch together is spent cleaning house or taking care of the lawn or cars. Again, sound familiar? I bet it does.
I’ll be honest, one of the greatest things that we’ve ever done as a family has been our designated day together. As you can probably tell, we set aside and jealously guard Fridays as our day to spend together as a family. It isn’t a luxury. It’s a necessity. It is vital to our survival as a family.
However, just having a day to spend together as a family will not ensure a strong, healthy or lasting marriage. You have to work at it and make it a priority to spend quality time together as a couple. You have to take advantage of every minute (or even create some time out of thin air) to spend together building into your marriage. If you don’t you’re sure to see it crumble and tumble down around you.
So, in our hectic schedules how can we create quality time as couples? Let me give just a few suggestions that have worked, and are working, in our marriage.
* Start today. It may sound simple, but get to it. Don’t plan to set aside time tomorrow or next week to begin to set aside time to spend together as a couple. Do it now. Right now. Get a calendar and begin to plan some dinners out together, or in together. If you have kids, line up a babysitter and make reservations at your favorite restaurant. It doesn’t matter if that happens to be under the golden arches. If you can’t find or afford a babysitter, put them to bed early, make some snacks, turn off the television and telephones and spend a couple of hours just talking to each other.
* Spend time alone together. I know we often like to go to the movies with another couple, but that’s really not the best way or place to go if you really want to spend quality time with your spouse. The folks around you will likely get upset if you spend the whole movie talking to each other. Plus, you’ll probably spend more time connecting with the other folks than your husband or wife. So, why not go to a coffee house or a park by yourselves and talk – about anything.
* Get over the anger. The Bible teaches us to not let the sun go down on our wrath. In other words, don’t go to bed angry. This isn’t just a good idea for our other relationships, this is essential to our most important human relationship. Try to resolve conflict before getting into bed, turning your back to your spouse and yanking the covers off the other side of the bed. Talk calmly, softly and seek to come to a peaceful conclusion before turning in for the night.
* Make the most of your time together. We’re back where we started at the beginning of this post. We’re too busy. We pass each other in the hallways of our home, sit across from each other for a few minutes at the kitchen table, and try to get a few seconds alone with each other. When you find the time, make the most of it. Talk about each other. Talk about what matters. Don’t just compare calendars or hand out “honey-do lists.” Talk about matters of the heart and home. Talk about spiritual things. Talk about dreams and desires, what’s wrong and what’s right. And make sure to really talk to each other, not at each other. Listen. Share. Learn to communicate as a couple.
The minutes your invest in your marriage today will pay huge dividends in the days to come. Create opportunities, carve out time, just to spend together as a couple. If you do you’ll be able to weather any storm and be a beacon of hope and encouragement to your children and others.
What are you waiting for? Get your calendar and get started.