I don’t have time! How often have you caught yourself saying that? Our complaints about time have become an epidemic.
One day my husband and I realized we had to do one too many tasks and projects. We were both capable people, and so others looked to us to be responsible. We realized we needed a way to manage this situation and protect our marriage time together.
Today, we have far more choices for what to do with our time than ever before in history, and exponentially more choices of activities for our children. For people involved in faith and community activities, commitment to serving others expands the time commitments as well. Sometimes it’s tempting to try to do it all! However, that can quickly become a recipe for a love-starved marriage and family.
The Baha’i teachings urge everyone to choose moderation when they make their time commitments:
…exercise moderation in all things. Whatsoever passeth beyond the limits of moderation will cease to exert a beneficial influence. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 216.
Prioritizing–and making beneficial choices—creates vitality and joy in your marriage. It allows you to take into consideration the health and well-being of each of you, and your family members. Everyone has limitations, and exceeding them generally causes problems. If you start to notice that your lives are filled with stress, and happiness together seems elusive, it’s time to sound an alarm and get help.
So, how do you make marriage-respectful choices? Here are some quick tips that worked well for us:
Review all the time choices you’ve made, and what motivates you to do each one.
Assess which choices cause more problems than benefits.
Determine which overall outcome you want for yourselves as individuals, your marriage, and your family.
Determine where adding service to each other or outwardly to others together would improve your marriage and family life.
Determine the benefit of spending more time together.
Identify what activities should become “no’s” and where there are new “yes’s” to make.
It requires energy to effectively maintain your marriage, to be friends and lovers both. It harms your marriage when you leave your partner feeling like everything else is more important than your relationship.
Children and outside activities can demand so much, and it’s easy to put them ahead of your marriage over and over again. Rather than doing that, pause and remember that one of the greatest gifts you give your children is a strong and happy marriage. Research is clear–children are more likely to thrive in their lives with this kind of firm foundation.
Sometimes you may need a reminder to be conscious with your choices, especially if you tend to fall into patterns of activity and choices without pausing to discuss them together first. Whenever you’re asked to do something, you can simply say, “That’s a great idea. Let me discuss it with my wife/husband and I’ll let you know if it will work for me/us to participate.”
When you discuss it together, and put the happiness and longevity of your marriage first, then you have the opportunity to assess what the effect of saying “yes” will be on the well-being of your marriage and family.
Marriage strengthening through an online course “Creating a Fortress for Well-Being and Salvation” is available through the Wilmette Institute for couples in the early years of marriage. Read more information on the course’s webpage. The discount code is BT20. It will give people a 20% discount when they pay.