My first year of marriage was full of beautiful, blissful memories—but it was also an emotional roller coaster. My husband and I were 19 and 20 when we married, so we were battling our new sense of freedom, living on our own, and navigating the new twists and turns of a marriage relationship together.
We were both working full-time and going to school full-time, but we also felt it was necessary to spend every free moment together. Isn’t this what a good marriage is defined as? Are we an unhealthy couple if we don’t spend our nights watching TV together, making dinner together, and doing homework at the same table?
Marriage can be an emotional roller coaster in all phases of life—new marriage, a growing family, empty nesters … that is why time spent together is vital in every phase.
There are several misconceptions about time spent together in marriage:
Misconception #1: You should want to spend every waking moment together if you are in love.
While we should want to spend an ample amount of time with our spouse, it is important to realize the value of space and self-care in marriage. To be the very best for our spouse, it is important to spend quiet time with God and time working on the person He created us to be. It is also healthy to pursue your interests. My husband is more of a video game guy and I am more of a deep cleaning-for-fun kind of girl. Our personalities do not always mesh when it comes to the things we enjoy doing for fun. Rather, our definitions of “fun” are quite opposite. After several years of marriage, we have learned that it is healthy to take a few hours here and there to pursue our interests and passions. Then, when we come back to spend time together, we tend to focus more on one another instead of the fact that we do not always enjoy doing the same things.
Misconception #2: My spouse should do what I enjoy if they love me!
Time spent together in marriage can become more of a pity party if we have the mindset that our spouse should always do the things we want to do, watch the movie we want to watch, and so on. Marriage is about compromise and trying to get to know the other person more each and every day. It is important to approach time together with the mindset of trying to please our spouse. If we do this, it will have positive ripple effects the size of a Hawaiian riptide. My husband and I learned this far too many years into our marriage, but since we both started trying to enjoy more of what the other loves, we have come to learn about and love new things!
Marriage teaches us so many new things and can open our eyes and emotions in ways we did not know possible. In marriage, it is important that we refrain from pulling the “If you love me, you will…” card – this brings about unnecessary negative emotions and walls that with time, tend to pull our marriages apart and divide hearts.
Here are 5 things you can start doing today to ensure time together with your spouse is meaningful:
1. Do something your spouse enjoys!
Ask your spouse about their favorite video game, movie, book, or board game and try it with them! If we make marriage more about pleasing our spouse and less about pining over what we want them to do or be, only positive things will happen.
2. Make a plan not to make a plan.
Sometimes we spend the majority of our time with our spouse trying to make the perfect plans that we forget to just enjoy doing nothing together. Spend a rainy day watching movies together on the couch, workout at the gym together, take your children to the park together, or simply make dinner together. Sometimes when we take the stress of “perfection” away, we focus more on our spouse rather than on our idealistic expectations.
3. Know it’s okay to pursue your own interests!
It is so important for a healthy marriage to pursue your spouse, but know it’s also rewarding to pursue your own hobbies. This is self-care. It is a good idea for your husband to play basketball with his friends on Saturday morning and for you to attend a book club with your girlfriends. It is healthy to still follow your passions, as long as your interests do not compromise your spiritual health, morals, and marriage.
If you want your spouse to watch your favorite show, ask them to join you. If you feel like your spouse is on their phone during your entire date or time together in general, gracefully approach the conversation and be honest with them. Communication is detrimental to the health and future of all marriages.
5. Quality, not quantity time!
Do not feel it is necessary to schedule multiple four-hour blocks with your spouse on weekends or schedule two hours of TV together every night. Focus more on your spouse rather than on the clock. Focus less on schedules and more on being spontaneous together. Serve in church together. Help at a soup kitchen together. Babysit your niece and nephew together.
These small things will build a bond greater than any gap of scheduled “us” time can create.
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