The other day, my eight-year-old granddaughter called me at work. When I answered the phone, I heard her bright and chipper voice say, “Hello Poppy!” After I said hello back, she got straight to the point of her call. “I need to talk to you,” she said. I was a little taken aback by her abruptness. After a second or two of silence, I said, “OK.” Then she bluntly said, “So when can I talk to you?”
It dawned on me that my granddaughter was making an “appointment” with me. It felt a little weird to have her call my office for an “appointment,” but what she wanted to talk about was very important to her and she wanted to make sure the conversation happened. My granddaughter was teaching me that if something’s important then you should make an appointment.
We do this for doctors appointments, dentist appointments, meeting appointments, teacher appointments, car repair appointment, but when it comes to spending time with our spouse we tend not to plan but rather fly by the seat of our pants. Flying by the seat of your pants will result in:
- Not spending time with them as you should.
- Sending the message that spending time with them is not that important.
Spending time with your spouse is as important as anything else, so we need to make an appointment. How do you do that? Try following these steps…
- Get a calendar. I believe a calendar is one of the best tools ever for improving your marriage. It can help you stay balanced and out of trouble.
- Write in date nights. Write in 2-4 date nights for the month. These are nights you and your spouse spend together. No kids. No other couples. Just the two of you. They don’t have to be complicated. They don’t have to be expensive. They don’t all have to be romantic. But they need to be happening, so they need to be on your calendar.
- Write in times for sex. Now I know the reactions to this step will range from, “Are you crazy?” to “Yes!” But there are many reasons to make an appointment for sex. We’ll cover this in more detail in the next Normal Marriage post, but for now let’s just say that if life is busy enough to need to schedule time together, then it’s busy enough to need to schedule sex together. If you don’t need to do this, great! But most couples could benefit from calendaring sex. Again, more on this in the next post.
- Write in family times. This is time with the family as a whole, as well as time with individuals in the family. The more of these the better, but there should be a minimum of 4 family times scheduled each month…2 for the family as a whole and 2 for individual family members.
- Finally…schedule everything else.
You may be thinking, “If I do all of that, there won’t be time for anything else!” I know it feels that way, but if you do this, here’s what will happen…
- You will get the most important things (spouse and family) out in front of all the other demands.
- It will push you to be more effective and efficient in getting everything else done, because if you don’t have much time left, you can’t afford to waste much time.
- You will realize that not everything in the “everything else” category needs to be done. Many of the things we do aren’t necessary. We’ve just gotten use to always doing them. You’ll figure out things that can be eliminated to free up some time.
Yes, the real world can complicate your plans at times. Work meetings get changed. Family members get sick. Unexpected expenses change your finances. But the real world will happen with or without your schedule. At least if you schedule, then it will be easier to reschedule something to make sure it still happens.
Early in my married life, I had a difficult time saying “No” to things. If someone wanted me to take on an extra project, come to a party, speak at an engagement, etc., I would typically say “Yes “without thinking. But this began to take away much needed time with my spouse and family.
My solution was to start writing down date nights and family times in my work calendar. Then, when someone would ask me to do something, my first response would be, “Let me check my calendar.” If the request fell on a date night or a family time, then I would say, “I’m sorry. I already have an appointment scheduled for then.” If it was something I could not decline, (say a directive from my boss), then at least I could go back to my calendar and reschedule the date night or family time to make sure it happened.
Perhaps in a future post we can look at some ideas for date nights and family times. But for now the important thing is that you make an appointment and schedule time with your spouse and your family.
Do you have a question about this, or a personal experience? Let us know by leaving a comment.
Copyright © 2015 Bret Legg