A hidden threat to healthy marriage.
When we think about common threats to a healthy marriage we might think of issues like finances, children or sexual intimacy. While these are valid and significant issues, there is a threat more subtle and damaging to marriage: busyness.
It only takes a quick glance at the family calendar to realize just how busy we are, and how little time that leaves for the stuff that really matters. Laughter shared with a playful spouse; the depth of intimacy experienced in a lingering, tight embrace; the warming of the soul over a steaming mocha-chino-latte shared on a cold day. It is within these moments that marriage happens, yet we leave so little room for it to be experienced.
Now before you push back too hard, I know, much of what fills your time is good and important stuff; and that makes it the most harmful. I see it in my practice all the time, just trying to schedule clients to come into my office is evidence enough. We have filled our lives with so much stuff that we haven’t left much margin for actually living life together. And when that stuff is good and worthwhile it becomes harder to know where to draw the line; even harder yet if it’s altruistic or divinely inspired. (Pastors are some of the worst offenders, I know, I’ve been there.) I have some good news though, it doesn’t have to be this way, but it will take courage and fortitude to stand and speak that fabled word: no.
What if the best thing you could do for yourself, your marriage, and your community or church is to say no to some of those good things. I’m not telling you to drop out of all your commitments and activities. (But maybe some.) What is needed is a healthy boundary between involvement in community and commitment to spouse, family, and self. Sometimes that even means saying no to family. It doesn’t have to be hours at a time, but create some space that is defined, set aside, dare I say that is holy, to connect and invest in your marriage. You’ll be making the statement to yourself and your spouse that you care, that you honor and value your time with them more than any of the other stuff you do. One of the most common needs I hear expressed by a dissatisfied spouse is to feel they are a priority in the life of the one they love. Do you have the courage to let down others in order to build up your spouse?
There will be push back. This does not conform to the expectations of society, and so society will attempt to shape you back into that conformity. You might miss out on a big decision, may feel excluded from a celebration, and may even be passed over for a promotion. Marriage is not for the faint of heart; it is for the strong and courageous. So do you have the courage to say no to some of that busyness and create space to experience marriage and intimacy? I believe you do; and I dare you to embrace it, I triple-dog dare you.