It’s a scene that has happened more than once around my house. Feeling tired, I get snippy with my husband James. I give short answers and huff and puff about the smallest inconveniences. If this general irritability persists for more than ten minutes, James will say these magic words:
You need to take a nap. Please go and take a nap.”
Early in our marriage, this used to offend me. What do you mean I need to take a nap? Then my irritability would ratchet up. I’ll show him I don’t need a nap!
But now, when I hear those magic words, I feel a wave of relief wash over my tired body. I walk into my bedroom, close the door, and get under the covers. After an hour, I emerge from my cocoon a new, and much nicer, wife.
It’s must easier to be civil, kind, warm, and loving towards your spouse when you feel rested. If you’re refreshed, you can take a jab in stride or overlook a mishap in your day. But when your physical reserves are depleted, the smallest comment or inconvenience can have you reeling and overreacting.
Many of us feel obligated to be busy, overcommitted, multitasking, and ever-achieving. That’s how people roll these days. We complain about not having enough time in the day, but we’re not sure how to make any changes to our crazy lives. Rest seems unobtainable. Yet Zig Ziglar said it well, “Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.” No matter what you do, you will still have 24 hours a day, just like everyone else. But what can you do to guard your time–and your rest–so you can enjoy your life more and have more to give to the one you love?
You can begin by asking yourself a few questions about your current schedule:
- What activities in your weekly schedule reinforce your values (quality time with your spouse, exercising for your health, prayer, etc.)?
- What extras are taking up your time each week?
- What could you cut out or simplify to make more time for rest?
- Are you getting seven to eight hours of sleep every night If not, what is preventing you from having that?
If every single hour on your calendar is accounted for, you’re over-scheduled. You need down time. Don’t feel guilty if you have to say no to some extracurricular activities simply because you don’t have the physical energy to pull them off. Taking care of you is not a selfish goal. On the contrary, a rested and non-frazzled version of yourself is a wonderful gift to give your spouse.
There will be seasons when your hours at work will be all-consuming or you have young children who constantly need attending. Rest will be hard to come by. But plan for those times to be exceptions. Design your life so that it’s possible to get the daily rest you need. Remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” As you follow Jesus and order your life according to His teachings, you will find rest for your soul and your body too.
Think of the last time you and your spouse had a disagreement. An argument. A heated exchange. A yelling match. Most likely, you were feeling a little moody, fatigued, stressed or hungry when it all started. Being rested and refreshed won’t stop you from disagreeing, but it will certainly steady you and keep you calmer when those disagreements arise.
So the next time you want to take a nap because you’re exhausted, please do yourself and your spouse a favor, and crawl under the covers for a few minutes. No guilt. No worries. Because when you emerge from your rest, you’ll be a much nicer spouse.