When dating and planning for marriage, you never imagine life would become so chaotic and busy you’d lose sight of who it is you actually married. While dating couples and newly marrieds all agree this couldn’t possibly become them, those who have been married for a while concur it is quite easy to get here. And where is here? Here is a place only ‘dysfunctional’ couples get in to – not people who are truly in love. Let’s stop right here and realize it is possible for any couple to fall into a busy marriage. And while being busy is not a bad or evil thing, it can be something that pulls you away from your spouse.
What does a busy marriage look like?
A busy marriage can be one or two full time jobs consuming more resources than originally planned. We often use the excuse it’s ‘just for a season’ but it usually becomes the norm. Busy looks like a ‘stay at home parent’ who is running here, there, and everywhere for their kiddos. Busy looks like kids consuming all of the parents time with no boundaries around the marriage union. Busy is well meaning volunteer opportunities that keep popping up. Busy looks like being so exhausted at night you just fall into bed. Busy looks like your conversations with your spouse consist of the kids need to be here at this time. Please hear me, none of these things are bad in and of themselves. BUT when we are consistent at being inconsistent to our marriage relationship, trouble arises. Doing things with your kids is good. Volunteering is good. Working hard is good. These are not bad things. We just need to make sure our priorities are kept straight.
The damage of busy:
Intimacy is more than something sexual. There is an emotional intimacy piece vital to the marriage, as well. The only way to build emotional intimacy is by spending time with each other. Time spent connecting with each other, allowing our spouse into the more vulnerable parts of our heart. This does not happen as one is leaving and one is going. This does not happen in the 15 min car ride to the next event. This is an intentional act. It’s taking time out of your day to focus on your spouse. When we’re so busy, this is often one of the first things to go because it takes intention and it takes time. When we choose not to build emotional intimacy with our spouse, we weaken the foundation and our relationship becomes vulnerable to outside elements.
Security is another piece of the marriage that can be damaged by busy. Security in a marital relationship looks like each spouse being confident the other chose them. It’s why we say yes to the proposal in the first place, because we feel confident they chose us. When a spouse is busy and their time is occupied with other things, those other things can become a priority over a spouse. And the spouse feels not chosen, rejected, or abandoned. They feel the loneliness of other things being prioritized above them and it creates questions about the relationship.
Parenting takes a united front and when parents are busy with other things, parenting can take a back seat. Children flourish when they can see mom and dad as a united couple. They flourish when the family does things together.
Our physical well-being takes a toll also. We only have so much to give. There are twenty four hours in a day – we all have the same amount. When we don’t take time to rest and rejuvenate, we get run down and sick.
So how do we manage all this?
- Slow down
- Create space for your spouse
- Be clear with boundaries
- Learn to say no
- Be willing to let go
In the world we live in today, the question often times is how much can you get done and how fast can you do it? More, more, more, is the idea here. If we find ourselves in a place of being too busy, we need to re-evaluate what is on our plate and be willing to push some things off. Sometimes we need to learn to let go of things we don’t have to do ourselves. What can be delegated to someone else? Yes, it is less expensive to paint the garage yourself but could that time be better invested with your spouse? This is part of creating space for your spouse. Schedule time in your calendar to be one on one with your spouse and keep those plans a priority. Just as you would guard a large financial investment, guard the emotional and relational investment you signed up for. Sometimes the demands of a job are high for a season and we really don’t have control over it. Be intentional about taking control of the time we do have. Invest in your spouse, invest in your kids, be resistant to fill time with more work. Learn to say no to non-vital things. As you look at your family and goals, does what you’re signing up for fit your family’s mission? And sometimes, we need to let go of things we have held onto for a long time. There comes a time where we need to pass the job along to someone else.
How do I know if I’m too busy?
A good rule of thumb here is ask those trusted people around you. What is your family saying? Do they feel like they are getting enough of you, enough of your time? What about your spouse? Do they feel in partnership with you or do they feel alone carrying the weight of the home? Are you aware of the things happening at home? Are you completely exhausted and cannot carve out time for your family? These are all good signs that you’re too busy.
What to do if I’m too busy?
When we’re in the rut of being too busy, often times it feels as though there is nothing we can give up. The thought or idea of pushing something off our plate can feel as though we’ve failed in someway. Recognizing what your marriage needs and re-prioritizing your life accordingly can change the dynamics of your marriage drastically. You need to learn to say no to items that don’t enhance your marriage. Recognize your guilt is not a good indicator of whether or not you should do something. Guilt often comes when we feel like we’re letting someone down. Check with your spouse first before you sign up to do something else. Work together as a team to be on the same page with your schedules. Your return is only as good as your investment.