By Gary Moore
One of the biggest stressors affecting healthy marriages is the breathless pace at which we choose to live. Busyness comes with an expensive price tag.
Many struggling couples have allowed their busyness to distract them from what is most important. And, a high percentage of these are not willing to pull out of the fast lane. That choice will end up crashing their marriage.
Whether or not you want to believe it, busyness is a choice. Much of the drift in marriage points back to the choices couples make. To keep your marriage on a healthy course, headed toward your intended destination, you’ll need to make tough choices about the many opportunities that compete for your time. You’ll have to choose to say no to important options so you can say yes to what’s most important.
If you find that you have no time for your marriage, you must shift into crisis mode and make immediate course corrections. You can’t just make more time for your marriage. Here’s the good news and bad news about time. The good news is – you have all there is. The bad news is – you have all there is. All married couples, regardless of income, region, religion, upbringing, and personality, have the exact amount of time: 1,440 minutes a day.
Forget about time management. You can’t manage time. It is a constant. You can only manage yourself. You have the amazing ability to choose how those precious, fleeting minutes are spent. It’s both a privilege and a burden. If you don’t learn how to use those minutes to breathe life into your marriage, the drift in your relationship will become apparent.
Several years ago, a big-city commuter trained crashed, killing several and seriously injuring hundreds of people. The train was traveling too fast in a location that required it to go slow. When investigators looked into the accident, they identified three factors that contributed to the devastation: (1) A comparable crash had already taken place in a similar location, and the lessons it offered were ignored. (2) The warning lights that informed the conductor to slow down were working, but the conductor didn’t give it proper attention. (3) The conductor was apparently distracted by his phone.
The crash could have been prevented. It’s really not all that different from what happens when a marriage crashes: (1) Couples don’t take the time to learn from their past mistakes. (2) Couples ignore the warning lights that tell them their marriages are in danger. (3) Couples find other priorities distracting them and preventing them from giving needed attention to their marriages.
Jim Burns and Doug Fields say in their book, The First Few Years of Marriage, that to experience a lifelong marriage filled with refreshing time margins and deep intimacy, you must understand the cause of your busyness as well as the consequences. It’s easy to simply cast blame on busyness without looking within your own heart to see why you might be so busy. If this is you, ask yourself these three questions: (1) Is the pace of my life really sustainable over a long period of time? (2) Do I like the person I’m becoming as a result of the pace I keep? (3) Am I giving my spouse and my family my best during this season?
When I’m busy, the answers to these questions are always no, no, and no.
The warning lights of busyness are fairly obvious. Here are some that Jim and Doug give: Clutter – rushed lives are often reflected in clutter. Addiction to speed – you find yourself spending most of your waking moments fueling the adrenaline rush that comes from juggling your many “essential” priorities. Extreme multitasking – extreme multitasking can cause “inattentional blindness.” It won’t affect your actual vision, but it does influence your psychological perception of what is most important. Superficial relationships – your life feels as though it’s a mile wide and an inch deep. As a result, you become a shallow person – possibly so shallow that you don’t even understand how the pace you keep is affecting your marriage. Relationship fatigue – you have little or no time for the people closest to you. Spiritual emptiness – your desire for worship disappears, your compassion dries up, and you have little, if any, concern for spiritual intimacy with your spouse. You suffer from soul erosion.
To conquer busyness, you have to make intentional course corrections.
In the second half of John 10:10 Jesus says, “I have come that you may have life, and have it to the full.” He didn’t say, “I came that you might be overwhelmed and busy.”
It’s your choice.
Gary Moore served as associate pastor at Cloverdale Church of God for 15 years. He does couples’ coaching and leads couples’ workshops and retreats called MUM’s the Word. He does a weekly radio program called Life Point Plus on KBXL 94.1FM at 8:45 a.m. on Fridays. Monday mornings at 10 a.m. he does live relationship teaching called MUM Live on his Facebook page Mutual Understanding Method. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.