With a whole range of things vying for our attention every second of the day, putting time aside for our marriage can sometimes feel impossible – but it needn’t be that way.
When it comes to relationships, you’ll probably fall into one of three categories:
- life has never been better
- things are going ok, nothing to complain about
- not even on speaking terms
Wherever you’re at, every relationship needs investment. Most of us would probably understand the need for an annual MOT on the car. We pay an expert to look under the bonnet, check everything is working as it should be and fix anything unsafe. Mechanics will tell us that regular servicing will also help extend the life of our vehicle, and many of us will find that our cars need a little TLC every now and again to keep it going strong.
It’s no different with marriage – just like our cars, we need to ‘service’ our relationships by recognising unhealthy situations before the symptoms get worse. Some of the greatest investments we can make in our marriages are actually in some way, the simplest – to give them our time, focus and energy.
Most of us don’t feel we have enough of it and what we do have seems to fly by, which is why carving out time as a couple is so important. We put other appointments and plans in our diaries to make sure we don’t forget or miss them. So getting the diary out to book in time together, and treating it like you would any other significant event is a good thing – something that’s non-negotiable and can’t be missed. This could be anything from a few hours to a whole weekend – the important thing is that it happens.
So … once we’ve got something booked in, the next aspect is making sure we’re not overly distracted and preoccupied – if we are, we’re not going to get the best out of each other. Leave your phones in another room, or switch them off completely and don’t even touch the TV remote. If you’re able to, going for a walk is one of the best ways to give each other your undivided attention. It may be super cliché, but often the greatest present you can give each other is your presence. Try to stay fully in the moment, give them your undivided attention and let them know there’s nothing more important in the moment than they are.
Often, it’s really easy for time with our spouse to come after everything else is done. So instead of giving our best, we end up giving what very little we have left. Try flipping that around and giving your partner the best of you. Go on a breakfast date instead of a rushed dinner at the end of a busy day, or book a weekend away together and leave the work laptop at home. Be mindful of what works for you in the season you’re in – if and when kids come along, quality time will look different. Whatever it looks like, investing in marriage now will help your marriage to motor on.
There are apps for just about everything these days, but one we would really recommend if you’re serious about strengthening your marriage is Toucan. In partnership with Christians Against Poverty, this app has been developed by FamilyLife UK.
It’s designed specifically for couples and covers modules such as communication, conflict, loving, money and growing. Each spouse downloads the app and then links to each other. You work through a series of video clips, animations, interactive exercises and quizzes alone, and then come together to share answers and make action points – all with the intention of strengthening your relationship.
If you take anything away from this article, just remember it doesn’t matter where you’re at in your marriage, it can always be improved – and it’s worth taking that time to invest – and there are always people and resources around to encourage and help you along your journey.
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