Marriage Advice From A Christian Perspective

Submitting Your Married Life to the Lord's Timetable

  • Deborah Raney & Tobi Layton Contributing Writers
  • Updated Jul 27, 2011
Submitting Your Married Life to the Lord's Timetable

A fresh perspective…
Tobi Layton, married 11 years

If my life had a theme song, it would be Alabama’s “I’m in a Hurry to Get Things Done.” Patience, you see, is a virtue I do not possess. The condition has plagued me since childhood, witnessed by my mother, who said I was ready to move out on my own by the time I was ten.

It has always been rough for me to have to wait for time to pass, but not nearly as difficult as learning to wait on another person. Enter Ryan, my wonderful, yet annoyingly patient, husband. While I am high-strung and always on the go, Ryan is a laid back, go-with-the-flow kind of guy. It’s not that he doesn’t look to the future, it’s just that he’s content with getting there at a leisurely pace. I, on the other hand, try to manipulate and precipitate what is to come. In short, Ryan aims to follow God’s path, I aim to blaze the trail for Him.

We dated for a year and a half before Ryan finally proposed. We both knew within three to four months of meeting that marriage was in our future. I never felt insecure about that, but I reasoned that if we knew we were going to marry eventually, why on earth would we wait? Ryan tried to explain that it might be wise to get our education and financial matters in order before we jumped into marriage. I knew he was right, but my response was to plan ahead to ensure that our ducks would be in a row very soon.

Embarrassing as it is to admit, I remember sketching out a four-year plan, including graduation dates, detailed budgets, and the month of conception of our first child. It’s a wonder that Ryan even stayed with his crazy girlfriend. He never laughed at my dreams, but he never gave in to them either. He always trusted God to plan the details of our future and often reminded me to do the same.

Ryan decided, a year into our marriage to go back to school for his master’s degree. He also decided to pursue teaching as a career rather than wildlife science, so a two-year program ended up taking three years. I supported him in both of these decisions, knowing he was listening to God’s will for his life and wanting him to be happy in his career. But I inwardly cringed when I calculated what this would do to my schedule for starting our family.

Ryan finally entered his last semester of graduate school and I began to scan the calendar for optimum conception dates. Imagine my dismay when my husband didn’t spend every waking minute job hunting. Instead, he prayed and waited. I was glad he was seeking God, but waiting? 

After several months with no job prospects for Ryan I was feeling panicky. Then I had an epiphany (or rather, God smacked me in the face with His reality). Suddenly Ryan had four interviews scheduled. Within two weeks he was offered two jobs and was in top running for the other positions. He accepted a teaching job on a Friday.

Two days later I woke up feeling a little queasy. I was pregnant! It turns out God really does know what He’s doing. And I also have to concede that Ryan, who is supposed to be the spiritual head of our household, just might know a bit more than I do about seeking God’s will. 

A seasoned perspective…
Deborah Raney, married 38 years

My daughter certainly didn’t inherit her “I’m in a hurry to get things done” attitude from me. If my life had a theme song, it would be Simon and Garfunkel’s “Feelin’ Groovy,” with its plea to slow down, make the morning last, watch the flowers grow and just generally feel groovy. 

Tobi inherited the “hurry up” part of her personality from her dad. And he’s quite proud of it. I’m learning to appreciate the positive aspects of that go-getter spirit, but it’s caused some conflicts over the years in our marriage. For instance, Ken is a stickler for being on time, if not early. If we’re supposed to walk out the door at 8:45 a.m. for church, and the clock in the car flashes to 8:46 before we back out of the garage, I am late in his book. Let’s just say that I’m late with a fair amount of regularity. Usually no more than two or three minutes, but in Ken’s economy, it might as well be twenty. Late is late.

It seems like he’s making a big deal out of nothing—until the tables are turned. Then, I realize how much I appreciate the fact that I can always depend on my husband to be where he says he’ll be when he says he’ll be there.

Yes, people tend to get in too big of a hurry, and there is value in slowing down to watch the flowers grow and all that. But let me share the other end of that extreme: too often I use that sentiment as an excuse to procrastinate. Worse, many times my procrastination infringes on other people’s time, which I should consider at least as precious as mine.

I have a tendency to be a little lazy, too. To not do every task to the very best of my ability, and to not fully use the gifts and opportunities God has given me. Maybe that’s one reason I admire my husband’s industrious nature so much. He is a get-it-done sort of guy. And I benefit greatly from that.

Like anything else in marriage—or in life—we need to find the balance between the extremes. Of course, God knew that when he made us for each other, and as the years go by, Ken and I have learned to appreciate each other’s perspectives on time. I’m getting better about respecting his schedule, and he’s learning to slow down and enjoy watching the flowers grow with me.

Ecclesiastes 3 tells us there is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven. It helps to know that life is a series of seasons and that there is a time and place for hurrying as well as a time and place for kicking back a little, even sometimes for procrastinating. No matter how we try to hurry it, winter takes its own sweet time melting into spring. And no matter how much we attempt to slow it down, summer always seems to go by too quickly.

Ultimately, we have no control over time. As difficult as it can be to wait, as ardent and urgent as our desires may feel, everything happens in His time and according to His purposes. And that’s a good thing. Psalm 31 says it best: But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in your hands… (verses 14-15a). I can’t think of more capable hands to hold my schedule and my marriage. In fact, it kind of has me feelin’ groovy.
Read Isaiah 55:8-11 and James 4:13-15

1. If you had to choose a theme song for your life, what would it be? Could you choose a theme song for your spouse? 

2. Do you and your spouse struggle with different schedules and different attitudes about time issues? If you’ve been married for several years, how have your attitudes about schedules changed? If you are newly married, how would you like to see your schedules changes? Your attitudes about time? 

3. Is it difficult for you to trust God with your schedule and with timetables for events in your life? Can you think of ways God has proven himself in the past to be more than capable of “handling” the timetable of events in your life?

4. Have you ever tried to “force God’s hand” instead of waiting on His timing? What were the results?

*Article originally posted on Crosswalk March 10, 2006.

Deborah Raney's first novel, A Vow to Cherish, inspired the World Wide Pictures film of the same title. Her books have won the National Readers' Choice Award, Silver Angel for Excellence in Media, and have twice been Christy Award finalists. She and her husband, Ken Raney, have been married for 38 years. They have four children, two little grandsons, and enjoy small- town life in Kansas. Visit Deborah's website at

Tobi Layton is a fifth grade teacher and freelance writer in southeast Missouri. Tobi has been married for eleven years to Ryan Layton, a high school biology teacher. Tobi and Ryan are involved with the high school and junior high youth groups at their church in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. The Laytons have two sons.

Tobi Layton is the daughter of Ken and Deborah Raney. The Raneys and the Laytons share an August 11 wedding anniversary.