Is your marriage a priority? THE priority?
If not, why?
I know it’s a tough (and direct) question.
My guess is that it’s not because you don’t want it to be. It is more likely because you don’t know who to make a priority.
In This Article
- #1 Time
- #2 Respect
- #3 Attention
- #4 Energy
- #5 Communication
- Wrapping It Up
Laying a Priority Foundation
When I was in High School my dad owned a feed mill. We were cattle farmers so we built a mill to grind and make feed for our livestock.
My dad is a talented builder. He can do just about anything well.
I learned a lot the summer we built the mill.
One of the most important lessons was about foundations.
If the foundation is not laid properly, the building will ultimately collapse (or at minimum have serious issues).
It’s the same with marriage.
If we look at our relationship as a building we are constructing, the foundation is the most important part.
Too often couples only look at the decor. And pay little attention to the foundation.
In this article I want to talk about the foundation of making your marriage a priority. Specifically five practical steps that can serve as a blueprint for your relationship.
#5 Steps to Make Your Marriage a Priority
These five steps will help you create a healthy marriage and give you the keys to make your marriage the priority it should be.
There are two ways to spell love (in English).
In fact, the latter more accurately captures the heart of true love.
It’s difficult to cultivate and nourish love without time.
Someone wisely said:
Money is the financial currency that keeps the economy moving.
And time is the relationship currency that keeps a marriage moving.
The importance of spending time together in a relationship cannot be over estimated.The importance of spending time together in a relationship cannot be over estimated. Click To Tweet
It is vital to a growing, healthy and happy marriage.
The Myth of Quality Time
Many couples buy into the myth that the quality of time they spend together makes up for the lack of time they are actually together.
I’m not suggesting that quality time is not important (it is), but I am saying it is a myth to believe you can ramp up the ‘quality’ without having a ‘enough time’ to connect.
I realize schedules are demanding. But at some point you have to strategically set time aside to spend with your spouse. Without kids. Without others. Just you and your spouse.Our schedules are demanding. But at some point you have to strategically set time aside to spend with your spouse. Without kids. Without others. Just you and your spouse. Click To Tweet
It’s the only way to make the connection strong.
How do you know if you aren’t spending enough time together?
Four easy ways to know if your spending enough time together.
1. Your sex life diminishes.
Sexual frustration is a huge sign that you are disconnecting.
The importance of sex in marriage is discussed in this article: LINK
2. You aren’t talking enough about dreams and goals.
Part of what makes us feel connected is our shared values and common goals. These are usually expressed in our dreams, visions, and goals for the future.
3. Your values are changing and not keeping pace with each other.
Things change over time. The key is to change together, not apart or differently.
Time together allows us to grow and change in the same direction and at the same pace.Time together as a couple allows us to grow and change in the same direction and at the same pace. Not apart from each other, but with each other. Click To Tweet
4. You feel like you are living two separate lives.
Raising children, work schedules and other time demands can pull us apart.
It’s easy to feel as if you are living two separate lives.
When we begin to feel like life is racing forward and dragging us along, it’s time to slow down and reconnect.
ALSO READ: 300 Creative and Inexpensive Date Ideas
The importance of respect in marriage is another vital link in the chain of a healthy marriage.
According to Peter Gray, it could be the most important link in the chain.
Gray is research professor at Boston College. He writes:
Love is not all you need, nor all your wife or husband needs, and certainly not all your children need. We all need respect, especially from those who are closest and most intimately connected with us.
What is respect anyway?
Dictionaries define it in varying ways, but it boils down to this: Respect is the measure of how we value one another.Dictionaries define it in varying ways, but it boils down to this: Respect is the measure of how we value one another. Click To Tweet
Gray tells the story of his parents and their love for him (and his siblings). Although his parents were not very verbal about their feelings, and stressed humility over pride, and offered limited praise when they accomplished something, he knew they loved him because they respected him.
They valued his opinions and ideas. They treated him as a responsible human being. And in his words, ‘it was a self fulfilling prophecy.’ He became a responsible person.
Mutual Respect: What Does It Look Like?
A couple of examples might be helpful. (Source)
Respect: A 60 Year-Old Woman
A 60-year-old woman commented that her husband turned out to be a better life partner than she ever expected: “We met in our 20s and I was really taken by him. But I never thought that I would feel even more attracted to him 40 years later. I love being near him and doing things with him. He’s not only been financially successful but he’s a great listener and my best friend. He still turns me on.”
Disrespect: A 52 Year-Old Man
In treatment, a 52-year-old man complained that since he was fired from his job his wife has demonstrated a lack of respect for him. “My wife looks at me with disdain. I can see it in her eyes. She is disgusted with me. It as if she is telling me that I am no longer a man to her.” The wife responded: “This is not the first time my husband has been fired. And he has been a poor provider for years. It is true that I thought he had more potential when I first married him. How am I supposed to see him?”
From these examples it’s easy to see the importance of respect in marriage.
ALSO READ: 7 Ways to Create Respect in Marriage
It is estimated that we see between 6,000 (the low end) to 10,000 advertisements each day.
The sad news is if you ‘live online’ that number is elevated even higher.
Everything…and everyone…wants our attention.
Two huge takeaways from these stats:
1. We often give divided attention to areas (people) that need our full attention.
2. Our minds are shaped by the advertisements we see.
This can have a damaging effect on our priorities and desires.
To sum it up, we have ‘things’ that steal our attention and shape our values in a negative way.
It should be easy to see how this impacts your marriage.
Paying attention to our spouse…giving them the attention they deserve and need, is an important way to make your marriage a priority.
Everyone Wants Your Attention
With all the voices screaming to be noticed and heard, it’s easy to see how our spouse can be just another thing in the long line of things that need our attention.
So, what do we do? How do we solve the problem of ‘attention demand?’
Reminds me of something my mentor once said:
Good things are often the enemy of Great things.
Read that again. Let it sink in.
We often settle for good things and miss the great things we should experience.
It might be a good thing to work late on that office project to get ahead and get noticed by your employer.
However, a better thing (great thing) might be to realize the work will be there tomorrow, so you can go home and celebrate your time with your spouse.
Look, I’m can be a workaholic. I love what I do. It’s easy for me to get caught up in a project and let time eat away at other things.
But I’ve learned through the years that when I prioritize in favor of my marriage (my wife), my life is sweeter, happier and more fulfilling.
Projects will always be there. And…I’m not saying there is never a time to work late. But this has to be kept in balance.
If the flow of your life is always moving in the direction of ‘more attention at work (play, sports, etc) and NOT toward your spouse, you have misplaced priorities.If the flow of your life is always moving in the direction of 'more attention at work (play, sports, etc) and NOT toward your spouse, you have misplaced priorities. Click To Tweet
And it will effect your marriage.
How To Make Attention A Priority
It’s important to remember that every decision about your time has a consequence or reward.
I like to see it like this…
There are four options in every decision:
This is a bad decision and will wreck your life.
These are usually self evident and easy to spot.
These are good things. Not the best, but still good.
Higher on the scale than good. These choices are better than most other options.
This is the highest and best for your life.
Sometimes the distinction between good, better and best is blurred.
Watch the video recap of this:
I’ve found that one of the best ways to distinguish between them is to discuss them with my wife.
Our partners know us better than we think they do. They know our blind spots and weaknesses. (Thank God they love us any way).
This is helpful when we can’t determine the best course.
They are often very keen on what is best. Especially what is best for your marriage.
This is the value of working together to build your relationship.
Energy is connected to attention.
It takes energy to invest our time and attention in others.
Every relation is an energy drain. I don’t say this in a bad way. We are like automobiles. It takes fuel to run us. In other words, every relationship demands a certain level of energy from us.
Some relationships are draining. We use this term to describe those people that take too much from us and don’t give enough back.
Marriage should never fall into this category.
If both parties are investing in the marriage, it will produce more than it demands.
Investing In Your Relationship
Think of your marriage (and family) as a bank.
You have to make deposits if you want to make withdrawals.Think of your marriage (and family) as a bank. You have to make deposits if you want to make withdrawals. Click To Tweet
Simple concept, right?
Yet so many couples violate this basic prinicple. They fail to give energy to their spouse, so when they need energy from them, there is nothing to draw upon.
It’s like living in financial debt. Over spending will bankrupt you eventually.
Same with marriage.
If you are not investing time, attention and ENERGY in your spouse, you will ultimately be bankrupt in your marriage.If you are not investing time, attention and ENERGY in your spouse, you will ultimately be bankrupt in your marriage. Click To Tweet
Make Sure You Have Energy Left Over
Over the past years I’ve watched my two son-in-laws closely. They are good men. I don’t say that lightly.
How they treat their spouse, their work ethic, and the time they reserve for their family makes them special men.
They both have demanding jobs and they work hard. Yet they always have something left at the end of the day to give their family (both children and wife). They rarely (if ever) come home too tired to engage.
This is commendable.
They do it because they value their family more than their work.
I’m sure it’s not always easy. I know their work load is draining. Yet they faithfully demonstrate their family priority because they hold back some energy for their family at the end of the day.
Know this: How you invest your time is the ultimate test of your priorities.
Connecting demands communication.
We can’t really connect on a deep, satisfying level if we are not sharing life with our spouse.
To make marriage a priority implies that we connect through talking to our spouse.
Here are three simple things you can do to make communication a priority.
1. Scheduled Time.
If it is important, put it on the calendar.
Anything and everything of value should be on your planner (calendar). You can’t afford to just ‘catch a little time here and there’ and expect your marriage to flourish.
2. Date Nights.
My wife and I try to have a date night to ourselves at least (minium) one night a week.
It’s important to us even though we work together and see each other regularly.
It’s actually more important BECAUSE we see each other every day.
3. The Little Things
Take advantage of the little things.
For example, I recently bought a pontoon boat. We live near the lake and want to take advantage of it’s beauty. (Plus it lures our grand kids to come see us).
It was a used boat so it needed some TLC. We brought it home so we could pull up the carpet and redo one of the seats. It was a project my wife and I did together.
Some of the work was tedious, but we took advantage of the time we had together and we told stories about childhood memories, dreamed about time with our children, and did out best to connect.
We made it more than just a work project. It became a seed we planted for future memories we would make. This made the project go by faster, and the work easier.
It’s the little things that often make the biggest difference.
Don’t waste your opporutnities to connect.
Communication is an important element in making your marriage a priority.
Wrapping It Up
We all want our marriage to be priority. Sometimes it’s challenging because of the demands we face.
We’ve covered 5 ways to make marriage a priority.
Here’s a quick review:
- #1 Time
- #2 Respect
- #3 Attention
- #4 Energy
- #5 Communication
Resources for this Article
For more help, ideas and tools on this topic. Check out these resources:
The Healthy Marriage Quiz
If you want specific help for your marriage, or you want to know your healthy marriage score, take the marriage quiz. You’ll get immediate access with suggestions on how to improve your relationship.
If you are having serious marriage struggles, we recommend starting with ‘Save the Marriage System‘ by Lee Baucom.