We are extroverts and we like to be busy. Actually, we thrive on activity. When we go on vacation we try to pack as much activity into our time away as possible. We even chuckle and remind each other, “Remember we can sleep when we get home!”
Most couples struggle with a proper work-life balance. According to the Pew Research Center, 60% of adults say they sometimes feel too busy to enjoy life.
So how do we determine if we’re too busy or we need a course in time management? The following ten questions should help you and your spouse come to a conclusion.
1. Do you and your spouse regularly date?
According to authors Les and Leslie Parrott and Dr. David Olson, couples who have monthly date nights experience a 30% lower rate of divorce than couples who rarely go out. And yet 59% of couples with young children have date nights less than once a month.
2. Do you get enough sleep?
One symptom of over-commitment is sacrificing your sleep to accomplish more. Rest is important for a healthy body – and a healthy marriage. Try to go to bed at the same time your spouse does and sleep for at least 6-8 hours a night.
3. Are you fully present for your spouse and children?
This doesn’t mean you should attend every one of your child’s games or recitals, but it is important to be present for a few each season – especially the big events. Your presence tells your children you value what matters to them. Several years ago we watched as a family imploded. It was a tragic situation as we watched our friends separate and finally divorce. As we reflected with the wife on her marriage, one thing we learned was that this family rarely vacationed together. Instead, the husband was “too busy at work” to go with the family so the wife would take the kids on vacation herself. Over time, this husband became so far removed from his family that it wasn’t too hard to walk away.
4. Have you misplaced your priorities?
Do you waste a lot of time on things that don’t matter or do you see time as a gift to use wisely? When we recognize that our identity is grounded in Jesus Christ and he has given each of us a purpose, our mission is clearer. Our choices should align with our purpose in life. That’s the best use of our time. Root out activities that are wasteful (this is different from restful).
5. Can you accomplish your basic responsibilities and tasks?
If you are too busy to keep your house clean or cook or balance your bank statement, you are likely to be overcommitted (or depressed). Make sure you manage your home well as a couple. Discuss ways to help each other with roles and responsibilities during stressful seasons.
6. Are your emotions out of control?
People who are too busy often become irritable. Small annoyances set them off. If you find yourself crying, exploding in anger, or apathetic to genuine hurt, step back and evaluate your schedule. What areas are causing stress and how can you and your spouse tackle those issues together?
7. Are you able to help others or do you feel inconvenienced by their genuine needs?
If you are so busy that you don’t have any margin to care for other people, you are definitely overcommitted. Illness and death can’t be planned. Is there enough time in your life to minister to others? Can you attend a funeral, take a meal, or celebrate with others? Recently both of us had to quarantine. Since we don’t live near any family, one of our friends did our grocery shopping. Our friend was inconvenienced so she could help us when we needed it. Plan for the unexpected and be there for people who need you.
8. Do you feel guilty when you rest or take a Sabbath?
God has commanded all of us to rest. He wants us to set aside a whole day just for our refreshment and rest. Trust God to know what’s best for you and your family. Have fun. Rest. Play together. Laugh.
9. Do we say “no”?
Overcommitment threatens your marriage and family. As a couple discuss what activities and events you’ll participate in as you focus on your purpose. If something doesn’t work for your family in a certain season, decline the invitation. Say no and set up boundaries to protect your marriage. Psychologist Henry Cloud says, “Boundaries are property lines that define and protect husbands and wives as individuals. Once they’re in place a good marriage can become better and a less than satisfying one can even be saved.”
10. Is our lifestyle causing my spiritual life to suffer?
If you are rationalizing why you’re too busy to attend church or have devotions or even pray, then this is a sign you’re too busy. Pursuing a godly life should be your number one priority as husband and wife. We’ve seen couples whose time has been multiplied because they honored God first. At other times we have seen individuals spend unprecedented amounts of time (and money) trying to complete a task that should have taken minimal effort. God can multiply your time and energy when you choose to honor him first.
Working through these questions and making the needed changes to your life will not only improve the overall health and pace of your life, it will also improve your relationships and most importantly build your marriage.