No one ever thinks they’ll get a divorce.
No one goes into marriage thinking that “someday I will break up with the person I love and go our separate ways.” No one day-dreams about waking up one day at the age of 50 and ending things with their spouse of 20+ years.
Yet these days with over 50% of marriages ending in divorce, there’s no question that there is an issue for most marriages.
Outside of affairs or other moral failures, most marriages end after a long slow drift. You hit a fork in the road and go your separate ways.
But how do you keep that drift from happening? How do you hug the line and remain close through the years?
How do you fight the norm and have a healthy marriage?
You invest in it. You put time, effort, energy, thought, care, attention, and at times, money into it. A healthy marriage that lasts a lifetime won’t happen by accident.
Here’s the challenge for so many when it comes to investing in their marriage…
You don’t see immediate results.
I know that if I spend an extra 2-3 hours studying Greek then I’ll have a much better chance at getting an A on my test next week.
If I push my blog production from 2 posts to 3 posts a week, then I would see a tangible increase in traffic, shares, and blog growth.
If I can spend an extra 2-3 hours at the gym this week, I know that I will see more results in my health and physique.
In most areas of life, we can see an immediate impact as a result of our effort. If I put the time, effort, or money into X, then I’m confident I will see Y result.
Marriage isn’t as clean cut. It isn’t as simple. There is no observable return on investment.
I think that’s a huge reason why people who are driven and ambitious neglect investing in their marriage.
I’m not an Expert
I want to preface by just saying that I’m by no means an expert on marriage. At this point I’ve been married just over two years and am an expert totally still figuring all this out! My hope is that the marriage tips I share with you today might stir up some ideas that will work to make your marriage healthier, stronger, better, more life-giving, etc.
Marriage is way more than money or achieving material success together. Marriage is way more than reaching financial independence. You can’t boil a marriage down to inputs and outputs and you really shouldn’t try calculate an ROI on a relationship.
Marriage is about lifting up your life partner to become their best self. A healthy marriage gives you one person in life you can count on no matter what. And beyond those things, I personally believe that God’s vision for marriage is so much bigger and grander than we can conceive it to be. It is a chance to put the gospel on display and to ultimately make Christ known.
Religious beliefs aside, I bet we can all agree that a healthy marriage doesn’t happen by accident. It takes work. It takes time. And it definitely takes effort.
But sometimes it can be hard to put in the time and effort when you have a million things vying for your attention.
Today I want to share with you 9 marriage tips that my wife and I use to find time together in the middle of busy seasons. These are practical, come from our own experience, and most can be applied right away.
9 Marriage Tips for Incredibly Busy Couples
These are the marriage tips that work for us and keep our young marriage going strong! I hope that they might encourage you and give you some ideas to put into practice to have a healthier marriage.
1. Create some “sacred space”
Whenever you first get married and move into together, set aside an area in your house or apartment that is “sacred”. This is a place where phones are off limits, laptops are not allowed, and it’s just a chance to be together with no distractions.
The first place we lived in was a 2 bedroom townhome with 1250 square feet. We had plenty of room and the second bedroom was the perfect spot for morning coffee, quiet times together, and a place to just be with each other.
Whenever we downsized to our tiny 600 sq. ft. apartment we realized pretty quickly that creating a space like this wouldn’t be possible. If this is you, then you just need to work together for create a time each day where you can be together without the pressure of work, the distractions of tv, or the pull of social media.
2. Create shared goals
One of the greatest strengths of marriage is having two people working towards the same goal. You have two people putting forth their effort, time, and energy to accomplish something. Creating shared goals is one of the best marriages tips we’ve been given.
But what about when you’re working in opposite directions?
- Saving vs. Spending
- Downpayment vs. Retirement
- Healthy vs. Apathetic
To be honest, that used to be us. We’ve had an incredible marriage since day 1, but we have definitely had our disagreements. We’ve had to spend time identifying values, goals, and dreams that we share.
If you really want to have a successful marriage that brings you joy and happiness- you have to find ways to get on the same page- to be working on the same team.
It’s taken my wife and I two years of marriage to get on the same page with how we handle money. And we still have moments where we disagree and struggle!
Areas to create some shared goals in:
Finances: We want to save 50% of our income for retirement and anything else will go towards a future down payment. Our goal is to be F.I.O.R. We want to be financially independent, so that an early retirement could be an optional.
Family: We want our relationship with each other to be encouraging, caring, and to be each other’s best friend. We want to challenge each other in our love for God and spiritual disciplines. We want to create a home environment where our future kids will experience the love of Christ and come to know Him.
Health: We want to make health a priority, but not an idol. For us, this looks like eating healthy throughout the week and exercising 3-4 times a week. One of the ways we do this is by meal prepping every week.
Ministry / Giving: We want to use our giftedness to serve others and advance the kingdom of God. Our purpose in life is to point others to Christ through our words and actions. We always want to use our resources and wealth in a way that helps others.
Work / Career: We want to create an additional source of income through this blog. I have no problem being transparent and open about that! Why? Because part of our shared dream is that my wife can be a stay at home mom. This blog is part of that dream. We are also still clarifying our “giving” purpose for this blog, but if we ever become profitable, a significant portion of any earnings will go towards adoption and foster care initiatives.
3. Saturday morning walks
This has become one of our favorite habits. Most Saturday mornings, we wake up, drink coffee together and then go on a long walk through the neighborhood with our puppy.
We leave our phones at home and just talk about what’s on our minds- about our dreams or challenges, about the week before, or we talk through what is coming up in our schedule.
This has become a time that we look forward to each week and know we can count on to talk through any issues that have come up.
4. Clear the schedule for a night & give each other your whole attention
When you’re trying to start your own business, launch a company, finish grad school, or you’re working a full-time job that requires 70-80 hours a week, sometimes you just need to find a way to give your spouse a night of your love and attention.
I know I struggle with this.
Heck, I may as well be writing this whole list as a reminder to myself. Between full-time pastoral work, part time seminary, trying to work out 4x a week, and writing this blog, I feel like I never have enough time to relax.
But there are nights where I just have to lay it all aside and make her my only priority. To give her the attention and love she deserves for having to deal with me.
We are working towards having a standing “date night”. One night of the week where nothing gets scheduled and we do nothing except spend time together.
5. Wake up early to get your work done
Depending on your work schedule, this can be one of the best ways to get more work done. Whenever I started seminary, a mentor of mine told me that your wife will miss going to bed with you if you are always up late working, “You’re better off getting up at 4am to finish your work than staying up till midnight.”
My most productive hours of the day are between 5am and 9am. I usually get more done in those 4 hours than I do during the rest of the day.
If you try this, make sure to communicate clearly with your spouse that you are getting up early so that you can get more work done.
Start getting up earlier and start getting more done.
6. Pause to celebrate
Many successful and driven people struggle to celebrate the wins in their life. Rather than take the time to pause and celebrate, they move on to the next task or project.
For us, this is simple. Whenever we finish another semester of grad school, we go out to a nice dinner as a celebration, but this is a celebration for her much more than it is for me. She’s the one who carried the torch at home and sacrificing time together so that I could pursue a Masters.
Often times our spouses can be put on the back burner in our pursuit of career, work, or entrepreneurial success. When you hit milestones, involve your spouse and celebrate.
7. Put away the Phones and Technology
There’s no doubt that phones and technology can get in the way of loving our spouses. It’s too easy to get into the routine of spending hours next to each other without actually having a conversation.
When you are together, actually be together. Don’t let phones, social media, technology, or TV get in the way of spending quality time together.
8. Pray together
Praying together can bring intimacy into your marriage that you won’t find and can’t create anywhere else. The purpose of prayer is to align ourselves and our own hearts with God’s will for our lives.
If you want to really grow closer and make the most of your time together, make prayer a part of your daily marriage routine (but more than just box on the checklist). We love to pray together right before we go to bed.
If you aren’t sure where to start here is a list of things you could pray for together:
- Your marriage–that it would be honoring and glorifying to God.
- Friends and family who are sick or going through tough life circumstances.
- For people who do not know God.
- For missionaries around the world living in hostile situations.
- That God would continue to guide you and lead you in your work, life, and marriage.
- For discernment in making big life decisions.
9. Plan a marriage retreat
Setting aside a weekend for a marriage retreat is probably one of the best things you can do for your relationship with your spouse. This is more than just a weekend out of town or a week on a beach somewhere in Mexico.
It’s a time to invest in your marriage.
I planned one for our anniversary this year and it was an incredible time for us. We grew closer, asked ourselves some tough questions, and we spent some time dreaming about the future.
It’s so needed to carve out time day to day and week to week with each other, but I cannot recommend more strongly that you find a weekend every year to do this.
It wasn’t cheap. But it wasn’t overly expensive either. And depending on your budget, you can certainly scale up and down a bit. What matters most is spending quality time together.
We split up our weekend into a few “sessions”. During this time we would pray together, read from the Bible, and talk about what the passages meant for our marriage. Afterwards, we’d talk through some fun questions and then some more serious ones.
Here are some great questions to ask each other:
- What are your favorite 3 things we have in common? How about your favorite differences?
- What has been your favorite memory in the X amount of years we’ve been married?
- What has been the hardest, good thing we’ve gone through in our marriage?
- How can God play a bigger role in our marriage?
- How can we help each other around the house more?
- What’s a struggle you’ve been having lately that you haven’t shared?
- How can we pursue each other better? Emotionally? Physically? Spiritually?
- Is there something you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? What is it and why haven’t you done it? Total disclosure… This is when I pitched my dream to launch this blog.
We ate at some of our favorite restaurants, took our puppy on a walk, went to a coffee shop, and believe it or not, we actually re-worked our budget. Talk about romantic!
Our goal was to leave this weekend refreshed, and ready to care for each other and support each other better.
Want a healthy marriage?
Sometimes you have to recognize when you’re in a season of busyness and do what you can to carve out valuable, quality time in the middle of it. You can’t let the weight of your career, or the pressure of your entrepreneurial pursuits get in the way of loving the person most important to you.
It’s too easy at times to put marriage on the backburner. But you’ve got to fight for better. Fight for a stronger marriage. Pursue it.
Share in the comments! What are some marriage tips that help you create time with your significant others in the midst of busy schedules?