Editor's Note: Do you need sound, Biblically-based advice on an issue in your marriage or family? Dr. David will address questions from Crosswalk readers in each weekly column. Submit your question to him at TheRelationshipDoctor@gmail.com.
In this article I talked about re-creating magic in your marriage. This seemed to hit a nerve with many, as a lot of people feel as though their mate takes them for granted.
One of the primary ways people felt taken for granted was the lack of time together. One woman noted, "My husband and I have been married for fifteen years and during this time we have only taken one vacation together, and that was with our children. We spend almost no time alone."
A man wrote, "It's hard to find time to spend with my wife when I have to work fifty hours a week just to pay the bills."
Another woman wrote, "I know this sounds strange, but I feel jealous of the time my husband spends with our children. It seems like he prefers spending time with them more than with me."
As you can see, many people make the fatal mistake of not spending quality time with their mate. They romance one another before marriage, and then once married seem to believe the marriage will take care of itself.
Another common problem is letting the mundane tasks of everyday life get in the way of the romantic marriage. Paying bills, shopping for groceries, cooking and cleaning, house repairs, all can form a wedge between the husband and wife, leaving little time or energy for celebration.
Here is one of the positive responses to the last article, well worth our consideration.
Dear Dr. David. My husband has never been one to come up with romantic ideas, but he is a willing partner when I think of something unique and fun we can do together. Rather than waiting for him to come up with an idea, I've created a list of fun things for us to do. We often take a Saturday, sometimes with our two kids and sometimes without, and take an hour drive and do some exploring. We might also do simple outings, like go to the museum, library, or the symphony. Most important, we try to make our time together interesting. We realize the importance of being good companions for each other. This has made a huge difference in our marriage.
I appreciate this response for many reasons. Take note of several things.
First, she takes initiative to create fun in their marriage. While this shouldn't let her husband off the hook, she has chosen to take the initiative, not holding resentment, but taking pleasure in creating an experience for them.
Second, he participates with her in these outings. Again, while he didn't initiate them, he is a willing participant. They are spending time together, sometimes with their children, sometimes without. It again shows that it is not that he is disinterested in creating time with his wife and family, but has forgotten how to be the initiator of these experiences.
Third, their activities are often simple. Rather than let finances get in the way, they do things that are not centered on expense. They choose activities that are interesting, creating opportunities for lively discussion and interaction.
I would add another: Turn off the television and create time to simply show your interest in one another. Help each other out with the children, prepare meals together, read a book together and engage in other "friendship" activities. Your marriage is the most important friendship you will ever create—keep it alive and exciting.
We must never forget that our marriage friendship is a commitment forever. We must keep the friendship alive and exciting. In my book, Nine Critical Mistakes Most Couples Make, I discuss the importance of celebrating one another on a daily basis. "Forgetting" to celebrate our mate is one of the quickest ways to take them for granted. Every event, outing, and even trip to the park can be a time of celebration.
Send in more ideas about how you've been able to create time and interest in your marriage. We'd love to hear from you.
Originally posted March 31, 2008.
Dr. David Hawkins is the director of the Marriage Recovery Center where he counsels couples in distress. He is the author of over 30 books, including Dealing With the CrazyMakers in Your Life, 90 Days to a Fantastic Marriage, and When Pleasing Others is Hurting You. Dr. Hawkins grew up in the beautiful Pacific Northwest and lives with his wife on the South Puget Sound where he enjoys sailing, biking, and skiing. He has active practices in two Washington cities. You can also find Dr. Hawkins on Facebook and Twitter.
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