Most couples say they wish they had more time together. We genuinely want a greater sense of closeness. We fantasize about having the hours-long fun times together like when first dating.
Yet life gets busy quick. Earning a living. Establishing a home. When kids come into the picture, busyness goes logarithmic!
The tendency is for each to hunker down, take a portion of the to-do’s, and get after it. Seems to be the responsible thing to do—just handle it. Pay the bills. Do the shopping. Get the car oil changed. Mow the lawn. Bathe the kids. Attack the honey-do list.
After all, divide and conquer is a great military tactic. Isn’t it as equally effective at home?
Not always. Sometimes it’s better to do things together even if it doesn’t seem as efficient.
Sometimes it’s better to do things together even if it doesn’t seem as efficient.
Early on as Gail and I were starting our family, we counterintuitively started doing things together whenever possible. We just enjoyed the feeling that we didn’t have to shoulder whatever alone.
There was a synergy that superseded our individual efforts—and we had the satisfaction of knowing we were there for each other.
We’ve had seasons when unusual circumstantial pressures caused us to drop our guard. We got too busy with our own set of things crying urgent and suffered the consequences. Life became tougher when we didn’t maintain our togetherness.
The more time you can spend creating togetherness as a couple, the stronger your marriage becomes—to enjoy the good even more and to withstand any challenge that comes.
Here are several things we have found that keep us together:
- Couch time. We made it our habit that as soon as I got home at the end of the day to take the first 15-30 minutes to talk. I hugged the kids briefly, then sent them off to play while Mom and Dad had their time—they knew they’d have our attention afterward. We called it couch time because we’d enjoy just sitting on the couch, but often it was in the kitchen while Gail was preparing dinner. We used the time to decompress and talk about the notables of the day. We might not have had time then to solve everything needing attention, but we at least kept up to speed with each other.
Dates. Instead of using our limited time and money for personal hobbies or nights out with the guys or girls, we prioritized time together. There’s nothing inherently wrong with hobbies, time with the guys or girls, or hanging with others. It’s just that those things are no substitute for time together and we kept it a priority. Sometimes our dates had to merge with the functional and we spent the time running errands—but we were together.
Weekly planning. It helped a great deal to take 20-30 minutes on the weekend to coordinate the upcoming week together. We weren’t two people living separate lives; we were two people choosing to build one life. Having common goals and a coordinated plan of attack kept us on the same page.
Going to sleep together. I understand that couples may have different bedtime preferences or may have different work schedules. We just chose to have a common bedtime. I’ve always said it is my favorite part of the day. No matter what the day has been like, I get to end the day next to the one who means the most to me. (A close second favorite: waking up next to her.)
You can’t always be with your spouse. Life does require a division of labor. That’s why we need to do whatever we can to create as much time together as possible. After the career has ended and the kids have left the nest, it’s going to be just you two. Doing things together now will make those days the best of all.
Question: What have you found helpful to create togetherness in your marriage? Share your answer in the comments below.