By DR GREG SMALLEY
Marriage is an amazing adventure that has the potential for greater joy than any other human relationship. However, the daily responsibilities and stresses of having a career, home, children, debt, friends and other activities create a unique challenge for couples.
The health of our marriage can have a profound effect on how we function at work. Ever had a heated conversation with your spouse and gone to work angry? Emotions can carry through from the home life into the office.
The challenge usually surrounds the issue of priorities and time. Often, we build our careers at the expense of investing time into this crucial relationship that lies at the core of our family life.
Sadly, many couples buy into the false notion that they simply don’t have enough time, energy or money to date their spouse. The hustle and bustle of our fast-paced life often reduces our “dating” to a quick peck on the cheek and cordial “I love you” as we run out the door or drift off to sleep.
Yet, we cannot allow our hectic schedules, low energy or financial challenges to become excuses for neglecting our marriages.
We need to guard against the daily “grind” of life and develop the regular habit of separating ourselves from work, children and other responsibilities and focusing on our spouse in order to keep our marriages alive and growing. So while you’re thinking about your career development, here’s a tip on how to strengthen your marriage even as you continue growing on the work front.
TIP: DATE YOUR MATE
Planning dinner appointments with clients? What about planning dates with your mate again? Think about it. Remember what it was like before you were married? Wasn’t that the most interesting time in your relationship?
You and your spouse were just getting to know one another and everything was fresh, exciting and new. You took time to learn more about each other, about your past and your dreams for the future.
Now that you’re married, however, it’s even more important to date. You need to get away alone and continue to talk, laugh, and have fun together. You need to learn more about each other.
That’s why dating shouldn’t stop with marriage; ideally it should increase! But it’s not just going to happen on its own. It’s going to take time, effort, and planning. It means that as much as your career matters to you, you’re going to have to make your marriage and your spouse a top priority.
TAKE THE DATE NIGHT CHALLENGE!
Experts and happy couples agree that the trick to making marriage work is to commit to spend regular time together and to be sure that this time together is focused on each other and full of fun. Research shows that dating at least once a month significantly improves marriages.
Date night is a fantastic idea to make sure you and your spouse are connecting positively and enjoying each other’s company on a regular basis. It doesn’t have to be expensive or elaborate. The important thing is to make spending time alone together a priority for the both of you.
Spouses can easily become distant roommates under the stress of work, household duties and childrearing. We need to feel that the adrenalin in us is still pumping and is in abundant supply.
Don’t ever get tricked into believing that your marriage feels like a “recycled” union of two tired and bored souls. I strongly encourage you to diligently pursue “fun, adventure, play and laughter” in your marriage – start dating again!
Dr Greg Smalley is executive director of marriage and family formation at Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs, US. He will be in Malaysia from Oct 11 to Oct 12 to speak at two events; Date night and Marriage conference. You can register online at www.family.org.my
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