Place Your Marriage First
by Bob & Yvonne Turnbull
Have you noticed that too much hurry and speed of life can put a serious crimp in a marriage? We often think we will have time for one another when life slows down. Interesting how that time never seems to arrive. Before we know it, we have drifted apart in our marriage.
To keep a marriage going on a healthy and happy highway, each spouse needs to make sure they are not under-committed to one another and over-committed to the priorities of such things as work, hobbies, church activities and sports events. All are good things of course, but we can find that way too much of our time and energy are taken up with them. That is why we have to make a conscious decision to place our marriage first.
A number of years ago we found ourselves guilty of drifting in our marriage and only giving each other leftovers. And at times we did not even have any leftovers to give. It was definitely a time for us to make a change.
We started with something as simple as learning to schedule our marriage first on our calendars. When scheduling, there were four areas we knew we wanted to make a change in – and WE DID IT. So can you.
A TIME TO TALK
This simply means every day we would connect with one another with a personal, one-on-one time, and not just with one-liners as we passed each other enroute to our other priorities.
We have a combination devotion and talk time when Yvonne is fixing dinner. Our devotion time consists of reading a chapter a day from the Bible and then discussing what we read. We then have our prayer time together followed by conversations on any and all subjects we have been saving up throughout the day. How much time to set aside each day you ask? Good question. The answer: You two decide. Find out what is workable for you both, then make it a priority. For some of you, it will take some creativity.
And, for some of you who have children at home, this might mean that your kids have an earlier bedtime so you two can have that quality time together. Another idea is to set your alarm clocks 15 minutes earlier in the morning, or sit outside on your patio while the kids are inside doing their home-work or working on a project.
A TIME TO HAVE FUN
When we were dating – we had fun. When we were first married – we had fun. As the years went by, we stopped having fun and started focusing on work and other priorities that replaced most of our fun. Life became more serious and there almost seemed to be a heaviness about life. Of course there are serious moments in everyone’s life, and of course we cannot live 24 hours a day focusing on having fun only. Duh! Since we became aware of our marriage becoming bored and boring (is yours?), we started scheduling (yes, scheduling) fun back into our marriage.
We made the time to share jokes and cartoons we found throughout the week. We got back to laughing together. Strange to say that we almost forgot how. We did zany antics in front of each other and watched slap-stick DVD’s. And, oh yeah, we got back to dating again. We would take turns deciding where we would go, when we would go, and how much we would spend. Then we would talk about it, plan it and build anticipation. Wow, we got back to having some super times together, focusing on each other and enjoying the mate God blessed us with.
We have two rules and only two rules when it comes to dating. Our first rule is that a date means just the two of us. If we want to include another couple, or more, then to us that is a ‘social event’ but not a date. Our goal for dating is to spend quality time with each other.
Our second rule is when we are on a date we agree (and you might consider this too) to not talk about three things: jobs, kids and money.
Yeah, we know – what is left to talk about? LOL. Since we talk about those subjects around the clock, we eliminate them when on a date.
A TIME FOR PHYSICAL INTIMACY
We sure do not need to inform you that a sexual union between a husband and wife is an incredibly created blessing from God. Nothing can compare to it. It brings such a sensuous closeness. How frustrating it can become for one spouse or both of them to get their too-busy lives so out of whack that this physical joy is put on the back-burner too. During the day, couples may think of a ‘hot time’ that night, but by the time all the other activities and priorities are handled they go to bed – what? – that is right – TOO TIRED. Sound familiar?
Want to do something possibly novel? Try scheduling sex! You read that right – schedule it. Since not all physical intimacy is spontaneous, what is wrong with planning it? Example: Think of the anticipation that will build as you know that “tomorrow night is going to be a super hot night” (smile, smile). Then when that day does come, well, throughout the day the anticipation builds all the more for both of you until you are alone and loving with that special union God gives a husband and wife. And yes, the Bible is very clear about sharing this unique intimacy with your spouse – not with other people!
Do not forget to reserve some of your energy throughout the day so you will not be ‘too tired’ for one another at night.
A TIME TO SERVE TOGETHER
One area that has drawn the two of us closer to each other and to the Lord, is to serve Him and do it together. Throughout our marriage, we have served in our churches wherever we have lived. Being ‘people persons,’ we have often served on the Greeters Committee. We know a number of couples who have taken short-term mission trips with their church. They have all said that experience was life-changing for themselves and their marriage.
More recently we have started serving as volunteers in our community and have served holiday meals at homeless shelters. (And that can be an eye-opening experience for your children if you include them for this privilege.)
We have also volunteered at major community events through a couple of Chamber of Commerce’s in our area. These opportunities afforded us (and you too) time to grow closer as a couple serving and working together, plus meeting new people we would normally not meet. We have had some solid ‘spiritual’ conversations with these new acquaintances – people who do not know Jesus. Yet. This is a great way to impact others with the love of Christ
In closing – Read and reread the above and ask the Lord to guide you to improve in the above four areas. Do not be fearful or hesitant, instead claim 2 Timothy 1:7 – “For God has not given us a spirit of fear (timidity), but a spirit of power, of love, and a sound mind (self-discipline).” You CAN do it.
Visit Bob & Yvonne’s website at: http://www.turnbullministries.org