Six Ways You Can Nurture Your Marriage When Life Gets Busy
by Jill Savage
It’s a word we often use to describe our lives of running from one activity to another. Work, kids, hobbies, church, friendships, family…our go, go, go lifestyle keeps us moving, often to the detriment of our marriage.
We can rationalize it’s the season of life we’re in. We can justify that this is the reality of life with kids, or with a growing business, or with the challenges of caring for elderly parents. That still doesn’t change the reality that marriage isn’t meant to survive on our leftover time and energy. It has to be prioritized, nurtured and invested in—even when schedules are busy.
Need some ideas for prioritizing your marriage? Here are six strategies to get you started:
Eat dinner around the table. In fact, make dinner prep something you do as a couple. Then linger at the table and talk (if you don’t have little ones pulling you away!). Make mealtime as much about relationship as it is about food.
Put away your screens. Determine where and when screens are fine and where they need to be tucked away or turned off. Mealtime. Conversations. Vacation. Date night. These are all places where our screens need to be put away. Will this take some self-control? Probably. Will doing so communicate value to your loved ones? Absolutely. It will also increase your patience and decrease your temptation to minimize.
Stop. Look. Listen. We use these three words to teach our kids how to cross the street. We also need to use them to teach ourselves how to cross into our spouse’s world. When your loved one enters into your space, stop what you’re doing. Close the computer. Pause the television or video game. Walk away from your task to warmly greet him or her. Look at him or her fully. Maintain eye contact. Then listen with your eyes and your ears. Listen to learn. To hear his question. To understand her feelings.
Talk to God together. This may feel awkward at first if you’re not accustomed to praying together, but prayer always slows down our pace and gives us opportunity to hear what is weighing heavy on our partner’s mind. Now that we’re almost empty nesters, we often pray in the car when we’re driving somewhere. When the kids were smaller, we would try to pray at night as we crawled into bed; however, we often found one or both of us slipping off to sleep sooner rather than later. Some couples find praying together after making love works well for them, thanking God for their marriage, their love and lifting up whatever is on their heart and mind. If your spouse refuses to pray with you, you can still reach out and hold hands and silently pray for both of you.
Connect and catch up. If you have little ones, take some time to talk after the kids are in bed. Are you empty nesters? You still have to be intentional about setting aside time to connect. In the summer, enjoy the porch together. In the winter, resist the urge to flip on the television or hop on the computer until you’ve taken some time to connect and catch up. Take a few minutes to ask questions like, “What was the best part of your day?” or “What was the hardest part of your day?” or “What’s bothering you the most and how can I help you?” or “What’s weighing heavy on you today?” or “How can I be praying for you?” These connecting questions help us maximize interest.
Date your mate. Dating your mate means bringing your best self fully present for a specified period of time just as you did when you were single and trying to impress the person you were interested in. Life is busy, so you have to set aside space in your days, weeks and months to nurture your marriage. Create a repeating schedule you both prioritize for time together. Sometimes that may be as simple as the first 30 minutes after the kids are in bed. Ideally, it is once a week or once every other week or, at a minimum, once a month where you get a sitter/let the kids go to grandma’s/trade sitting with another couple and enjoy some focused time without interruptions. Even if you’re empty nesters, date night is important because you’re getting away from the everyday routine and focusing on each other. Slowing down and taking time to relate is essential in sustaining intimacy.
Breathe life into your relationship by moving your marriage up the priority list today. As you slow the pace, you’ll give your love the space it needs to grow…even in the midst of busy.
Jill Savage is an author and speaker who is passionate about encouraging families. She is the author of eleven books including Real Moms…Real Jesus, No More Perfect Kids, No More Perfect Moms, Better Together, and No More Perfect Marriages. Featured on Focus on the Family, Crosswalk.com, Huffington Post, and Family Life Today, Jill is the founder of Hearts at Home, an organization that encourages women. Jill and her husband, Mark, have five children and three grandchildren. They make their home in Normal, Illinois. You can find Jill online at www.jillsavage.org.
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