It’s the one commodity on the planet that we can’t substitute or reproduce. Whether you’re an early riser or you tend to sleep late when the clock strikes twelve, a new day begins. It’s up to each of us how we will invest our time to reap the benefits. When we don’t know how to value and manage our time, we won’t prioritize it properly, and that’s when we get into trouble.
Hasani and I used to get into a lot of arguments around boundaries with time. We were juggling the responsibilities tied to raising four daughters and running a national and international business, so how do you put limitations on that? Often we found ourselves working a 24-hour workday to accommodate schedules in various time zones. Suddenly, all of our would-be disposable time was gone, and our marriage was completely time-starved.
It’s not that we didn’t know how important it was to stay connected; we did. However, we found ourselves stuck in the daily grind. We could be sitting in the same room, shoulder to shoulder, with our laptops open, earbuds in, and hustling towards a common goal. Still, there was an emotional disconnect wedged in between us. We had gone from soulmates to role mates and quite often felt like just roommates.
It wasn’t only the marriage that was time-starved. When you’re in business together, you’re juggling a lot of responsibilities — managing the kids, meals, homework, laundry, family, friends, church obligations, leading a team, clients, and all the other nuances involved with being an entrepreneurial couple. With so many responsibilities, we still only have about 18 hours to work with once we wake up if we’re lucky enough to get six hours of sleep.
We thought we were doing the best we could. The irony in all of this is that all of the marital neglect we could justify. There is always a tremendous demand on our time. But after we’d prioritized everything else, what was leftover for us was less than ideal. We still had the needs and expectations of each other that were left unfulfilled. We knew that if a permanent change didn’t happen, the wedge I mentioned earlier, would widen to a chasm that we may never have been able to close. When we’d finally had enough, we incorporated a few simple shifts that were game-changers for us. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that these hacks weren’t easy for me at first. I’m a seven on the enneagram, which means I like to go with the flow, and I want to avoid feeling boxed in by too many rules. But I recognized it was the only way to ensure that we make each other a priority, and for that, I was all in.
Here Are A Few Steps We Took To Prioritize Each Other Without Sacrificing Our Responsibility To Everyone Else:
- Maximize Your Moments Together – Sometimes, it’s just one of those days. You’re booked solid from morning to night, and you barely have enough time to complete a sentence before the next appointment. If that rings true for you, you’ve got to learn to redeem lost time or hidden time. Hasani and I have found ways to create meaningful moments throughout busy days like that. Something as simple as sharing a cup of coffee the 5 minutes before your next appointment can be just enough connection to carry you thru to your scheduled time together.
- Schedule Everything – Create a color-coded calendar that organizes your life and live by it! Simple! Not so simple! The color-coded calendar has been a lifesaver for many reasons. Essentially it holds you accountable to prioritize the things that matter to you. Not only did we need a commitment of time for our marriage, but we also wanted to prioritize time for everything that mattered, including things like prayer, meditation, exercise, and playfulness. Let me break it down for you. Seeing Hasani put the phone away and play a game with the girls stokes my fire! Not in a weird way! It warms my heart and reinforces a sense of connection as a family, bringing me even closer to him. Do you see how it all comes full circle, people?
- Don’t Skip Date Nights – When you spend every waking moment with each other, you can become complacent, and going out on a date may not seem like a real need, right? Wrong! Date night is the time you set aside to show your spouse how lucky they are that they married you. And dates don’t have to be at night. Day dates can be a lot of fun and lend better to doing things that involve physical activity. Whatever you chose to do, make sure you do it and enjoy spending that special time together laptop and cell phone free.
Make Family Time a Huge Deal – You know who’s also recognizing how busy you are? Your kids or your family & friends. Apply this tip however you need to. When talking kids, depending on their ages, they’ll have different levels of understanding about why you’re busy and can appreciate aspects of it. But, at the end of the day, they need to matter to you as well. I always say a relationship is like a garden. If you don’t water it, your garden will dry up and die. When your kids don’t feel prioritized, they exaggerate needs because they don’t know when they will have you to themselves. Family time is vital for the marriage because it reinforces the love and bond you have as parents. It also reminds you of how important it is to maintain a healthy connection.
- Establish Rituals – A ritual is a set practice or pattern of behavior that you regularly perform. Something as simple as going for a walk together after dinner could be a beautiful ritual to practice. Meeting for breakfast or coffee is another lovely ritual. It gives you and your spouse a chance to pray, set intentions, and connect before the day gets away from you.
Applying these tips has made a tremendous impact on our marriage. Give them a shot and see if you don’t discover a new honoring way to use and distribute your valuable time.