When was the last time that you scheduled intentional time for your spouse?
I’m willing to bet that everyday you make commitments big and small to others… your kids, your friends, your extended family, your job/co-workers/boss, and sometimes even to acquaintances and total strangers (hi, mindless internet & social media scrolling)!! But when is the last time you scheduled intentional time for your marriage?
When I first posted about the struggles James and I were having last week I was shocked at how many people were going through the same thing, but seemed to have no intention or interest in trying to remedy the situation. It seemed they were tired of trying or had given up after lots of failed attempts at talking through things. Lots of people said they had never gone on a date night since their children were born (often times 2-3 year-long dry spells of NO DATES or more)!! Lots of people said they “just didn’t have time for their spouse” with everything else they have going on. And my answer to all of this is: You have to make the time. End of story.
(Photos above from back when it seemed we had endless amounts of time to spend together and actually made it a priority. i.e. Our 2nd wedding anniversary.)
This was exactly the situation I found myself in for the last couple of years. James and I would occasionally set aside date nights or a night to sit on the couch and catch up on one of our favorite shows… but it wasn’t regularly something that happened. And worse yet, sometimes we would schedule the time, but then I would get too caught up in work (I hadn’t gotten everything done I needed to earlier in the day either because of procrastination or because we hadn’t made it a priority for James to take the boys out of the house so I could have focused work time) – and so I’d tell James I had to finish something up before we could have our time together. Inevitably, whatever I had to do would take 2x longer than anticipated and by the time I was done James would say never mind – it’s too late – let’s just go to bed.
If that had been an appointment I had scheduled with a client or a doctor’s appointment for the boys, or a date night with a girl friend…. you can bet I wouldn’t have just canceled or worked for a while beforehand and shown up 2 hours late!! I wouldn’t have procrastinated work in the first place. I would have made sure I was ready to go when the time came for the appointment or meeting. But why is it we are so easy to brush off the ones we love most? Why is it so easy to say to our spouses, “I’m sorry, I know I promised you this… but I can’t anymore.” That is essentially telling them they just aren’t a priority in our already busy life.
Marriage is a marathon, friends. And having run a marathon myself – I can promise you that you can’t just train for it every now and then when the time is convenient for you. You have to schedule runs DAILY. You can’t put in 20% of the training effort and expect to make it through the whole marathon. Marriage is the same way. You have to make intentional time for it every day. That doesn’t mean every day has to be the equivalent of a long run! Anyone who has trained for a race knows you have to mix it up! Some days are cross-training days, some days are short sprints, and some days are long runs… and it can be the same for your intentional time together too. You would be amazed what even those “short run” days do for the overall health of your relationship!
If you’re feeling stuck or convinced you don’t have time to make this work – here are some examples/ideas for your time together!!
Short Run Days: Schedule 30 minutes into your day to sit down with your spouse (DEVICE & TECHNOLOGY-FREE!!) and catch up on life. Talk about what’s going on in the world, an experience you had that day, how work went, whatever it may be! Bonus: hold hands while you talk together and really focus on reconnecting for those 30 minutes. If you’re feeling drained and can’t think of anything to talk about you can check out these awesome TableTopics cards to get the conversation flowing. OR if you’re too tired to talk – just sit together and cuddle, hug, hold hands… whatever! Reconnect in a physical/intimate way (and that doesn’t have to mean sexual)!
Long Run Days: Plan a date night together!! We like to alternate date nights so James plans it one time and I plan it the next time. It takes the pressure off one person each time and allows us to think of something fun for the other one! If you can afford it – I’d say to go on at least two date nights a month, or even one a week if you can manage it! You can also plan date nights in if that’s more in your budget!! Or talk to another couple you are friends with who have kids and trade babysitting for date nights! You can watch their kids every other week so they can have a date night and vice versa! There are ways to make it work!
Cross-Training Days: Switch it up!! James thought of this one: each person writes two things on little pieces of paper you’d enjoy doing together that night and you put all 4 options in a hat and pick one out! It allows us to be more spontaneous in choosing an idea for our time together and also takes out the option of rejection. Something about just trying to list off ideas too each other always ends in someone feeling rejected when one of us inevitably says we aren’t up for their idea. This way we just put them in and whatever we pick is what we do – no vetoes – no negativity – just go for it! 🙂
Some new ideas we’ve come up for this were to take any old game, like Scrabble, for example – and make new rules or add a new twist! You can write little truth or dare type cards before the game starts and put them in a pile (don’t let the other see what you wrote). Shuffle them up and start the normal Scrabble game. Whenever one person gets to 10 points, they get to pick a card and have to follow the instruction or prompt on the card! It can be as low-key as “tell your spouse one reason why you love them” to something more goofy or whatever! James and I did this the other day for one of our date nights and it was so much fun to add a new twist to an old classic game! 🙂
Obviously these can be used for any relationship, married or not, kids or not! I just know that so many of the people I’ve talked to have had more struggles with this since having kids and that’s where we’re coming from too – so that’s where my head is at. 🙂 But certainly this advice and these ideas hold true for all relationships!
Also – I wanted to update you guys since my last post. Since sharing that post – James and I have kept up with our daily schedules/post-it-notes so we can ensure we both have the time we need each day to accomplish what we need to – as well as time with our boys, time to ourselves, and time with each other. Each day looks different, but we still have a plan and as long as it is followed the reward at the end of the day is our intentional time together! So far we’ve only had one day where it didn’t work and that’s because James ended up having to go to the doctor and found out he had a sinus infection. That resulted in him needing to really rest up and stay in bed a majority of one day, which meant that that night I had to get work done when the boys were finally in bed since I hadn’t had any work time during the day. Other than that – we have had intentional time together for 7 out of the last 8 days!!! I can’t tell you how good it has been for us and how much more positive and connected we feel as a result!
On top of that – we are SO much more productive with work than we had been recently because we know we have to GET. IT. DONE. in the time we have allotted and that’s been so good too! Not to mention – it feels a bit like we have a “regular” job again because we aren’t spending our evenings working late into the night anymore! Which I must say – after that being the “norm” in our life for the last two years – it has been such a refreshing change and makes us enjoy what we do more too since it doesn’t feel like it is all we are doing 24/7!!!
Okay friends – so let’s try this out!! Sit down with your partner/spouse and schedule your intentional time for the week. Set some time each day, even if it is just 30 minutes on some days. Pick a start time and both STICK TO IT. Take the appointment as seriously as you would any other appointment in your life.
It is time to start taking your relationship as seriously as you do the other meetings/appointments/responsibilities in your life.
Sending all our love, XOXO