In a Nutshell: Fight against slipping into an exhausted, overworked, distracted marriage.
It’s my favorite month! August is my anniversary month, and I love to celebrate it. Yes…the whole month! So, this month’s Falling in Love with your Family posts will all be about strengthening marriages. For those who are unmarried, I hope the principles will help with the other close relationships you have.
Get a piece of paper, hopefully in a notebook dedicated solely to analyzing and studying your family relationships. (Heck, right now you can get one for 17 cents at the back-to-school sales, so there is no excuse!) You techies, start a new file on your gadget of choice and label it, “Family.” Now, write down everything you did today to strengthen your marriage, and list the approximate minute value. Add it all up. Did you spend more time strengthening your marriage than weeding your garden? Blow drying your hair? Sweeping the floor? I hope so! If not, you may wind up with a nice garden, lovely locks, and a picture-perfect floor…and no one to enjoy them with.
We tend to give our marriages attention only when something goes wrong. But happiness together takes real, lasting effort, and consistent, dedicated time. One way to make sure we are paying enough attention to our relationship is to avoid overload in other areas. One psychologist described it this way:
Overcommitment and Physical Exhaustion. Beware of this danger. It is especially insidious for young couples who are trying to get started in a profession or in school. Do not try to go to college, work full-time, have a
baby, manage a toddler, fix up a house and start a business at the same
time. It sounds ridiculous, but many young couples do just that and are
surprised when their marriage falls apart. Why wouldn’t it? The only time
they see each other is when they are worn out! It is especially dangerous
to have the husband vastly over committed and the wife staying home with
a preschooler. Her profound loneliness builds discontent and depression,
and we all know where that leads. You must reserve time for one another if
you want to keep your love alive. (James Dobson, Ph.D.)
You may be saying that you are different, that you have no choice because of how crazy your life is right now. Maybe in the back of your mind, you plan (when things calm down) to show your love, go on dates, and make a valiant effort towards your marriage. I’d recommend that you stop telling yourself stories, and get busy building your love. Maybe there are some things in your life that need to be sacrificed in order to preserve some time and energy for your marriage. Maybe kids don’t do swim lessons, you miss a sale, or work gets less after-hours attention. Maybe after the kids go to bed, you snuggle up to your spouse instead of your laptop. Maybe your changes need to be even more drastic than that. But marriages put on back burners tend to get burned.
Remember that list? Add a few more minutes every day of time devoted only to doing things to strengthening your relationship. Your floor may not get as clean, and that BOGO sale may slip by, but you’ll be well on your way to building a relationship that can last.