I have some friends that we are so similar as to create an odd sense of time together even when we haven’t spent much time together. Know what I mean? Our temperaments, perspectives, opinions, etc are so similar that even getting together a few times a year is sufficient to maintain our friendship as at least “stable.”
However, there are others who I dearly love who are so different from me in their personality (temperament plus character), understandings, and communication styles that even a couple of weeks of not getting time and the relationships begins to feel awkward.
Of course, this happens in marriage too. Make sure you are getting enough time to nurture the garden even when (and maybe especially when) the conditions aren’t naturally super favorable!
Also, stage of life impacts some of this. You cannot do everything you would like to do (check out http://chrismlegg.com/2010/09/10/loving-your-wife-with-limited-resources/) so you have to be more intentional with what you have!
Finally, I would say that there is one thing about the question that bugs me a little.
As I make clear in the “limited resources” article, we have to learn to love intentionally and intelligently since we have so little margin in most of our lives… However, I still want to have a mindset of “how much time do I GET to spend with my spouse!?”
I am a little saddened when someone wants to know the minimum (Now I also know that sometimes one spouse is too irresponsible to schedule the time needed, or too much of people person to create the margin needed, or just an ornery and difficult person who wants to avoid, or even a lazy person who can’t be bothered to think outside of their own comfort… or, to be honest, even just a tired person with little left to give at the end of most days)…
So, to repeat, I am a little saddened when someone wants to know the minimum number for anything that God meant to be a gift to them.
What is the bare minimum of Mint Oreos that I have to eat? What is the raw lowest number of dollars I have to accept? See what I mean?
So, if your spouse is trying to figure out the minimum hours with you, ask yourself, what can I do to make that time with me more of a sweet experience?
I you find yourself wondering how little time you can get with your spouse and it still be enough – then you have become a boring spouse. Get on the ball and become an agent of freedom, love and change in your family rather than someone who needs to be coddled.
If you both are seeking the least time required to be together (or if either of the above are true) then you need to come talk to one of our counselors – in person or by phone and get rev’ed up to make a difference in your marriage. Who wants a boring marriage – I have never fully understood the idea that if we are going to stay together anyway, we might as well do our best to make it wonderful… not just bearable… much less unbearable.
So, here are my thoughts – focus attention toward finding out how to embrace time with your spouse and what role you can play in helping them embrace time with you… and then make the habit of devoting what time you can afford to one another! Since life has a habit of causing a couple to drift apart and away, you had better schedule it.
Remember, like any garden, there are times of sowing a reaping when a good deal of focused attention for a good deal of time. There are other times when less time is ok… but remember, no garden produces all the time. Fruit and flowers are what make marriage fun, but they require the regular investment all year around.
Back to the original question… It is a good one, especially in this regard… we must be diligent and intentional about creating time for what matters most to us… in this case, our marriages.
Don’t let your marriage slowly decay into a dead and fruitless garden. Get the help you need, if you need it, and make whatever investment is needed to be a good gardener
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