Paying Attention to Your Marriage

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“Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.” – Simone Weil

A friend tweeted this quote last week and I thought immediately of how it should (but often doesn’t) apply to my marriage.  In a day filled with multi-tasking and technology and social media – this form of generosity tends to go right out the window.

Here are prime examples from our marriage:

1.  Some date nights – I want to bring my phone along to take a picture of the food, make sure the sitter doesn’t have any questions, post what I’m doing, etc.  Those might be noble reasons – but what often ends up occurring is I’ll check facebook, answer texts from all sorts of people, and not pay attention to my husband.

2.  When my husband is home, often I am on the computer – meaning the iPad.  Whether I am playing silly pointless games or writing blogs, I don’t spend enough time just with him.

Do either of these examples sound familiar to you?  How can we change it and pay more attention to our marriages?

Solution #1: Leave cell phone in the car or at home.  I now always make sure that the sitter has my husband’s cell as well.  He doesn’t have a data plan on his phone so he only gets calls and texts.  Much better in terms of “emergencies” without distractions.  If we are going to a really cool place, then have your husband keep you accountable to taking picture – but posting them later, if that is something you really enjoy doing (like me).

Solution #2: Put down the iPad.  Please step away from technology.  I have plenty of nap times (for my infant) during the day to get all the blog-writing done that I need to.  This week I have a self-imposed book deadline so it is a rarity – and my husband likes what I’m doing.

Solution #3: Set goals for your marriage.  We recently talked about this and want to start doing it.  So, once a year, probably ear the time we first met (beginning of February) we will seek to go away and have a marriage retreat to talk about the common goals that we have in our marriage for the coming year.  The reason we chose this time instead of nearer to our anniversary is our family/life calendars.  The fall is a busy time for us: anniversary, 2 birthdays, and my husband is super busy at work preparing for Christmas services.  It would be too stressful on us to try to force a time in the fall – so we chose another time.  It doesn’t matter what time – but just make sure it is away, without the kids, and overnight, oh – and done.  This is going to valuable for us!

Solution #4: Read together.  Currently we are reading When Sinners Say I Do with another couple in our church (who have been married much longer than us) and we are reading The Meaning of Marriage before bed on most nights.  If we are taking a toad trip – we bring a book along to read in the car (usually me since E does most of the driving).

Solution #5: Go on dates.  We started (before kids) with a weekly date night, now we get one about every 3 weeks.  That is still better than most.  And that is a time we go out and grab dinner or do something fun while someone watches our little one.  We are blessed with amazing babysitters who never tire of our sweet boy.  Make it a habit to date your spouse!

Solution #6: Don’t overcrowd your schedule.  There will be seasons of busyness in your family’s schedule.  But, don’t make it a habit.  I know around Christmas time, even if we don’t travel, will be extremely busy because my husband is on staff at a church.  But, for most weeks, we try to have most evenings at home.  We have learned in a short amount of time being married that we need this more than almost anything else.  If we go days without being at home with each other in the evenings, we get into arguments or just don’t know what is going on in each other’s lives.

If you want your marriage to not only survive, but also thrive in this culture of skyrocketing divorce rates and meaningless marriages – seek to apply one or more of these solutions.