Almost two years ago, Rob left his day job to work from home. You would think that by sharing our daytime hours, we’d stay connected all the time. Yet we find ourselves on the run as much as ever–kids need rides to school and work. Appointments and meetings fill the calendar. Our separate to-do lists rarely overlap. It takes effort to step away from the busyness and focus on each other. As we’ve fought to connect, we’ve discovered five ways to bond when you’re busy:
When the kids were little, we dated the good old-fashioned way. We hired a sitter, picked a yummy place for dinner, and checked out the latest movies at the theater. On a tight budget that kind of date was a big deal. We made it work by trading babysitting with friends. Or, we’d head out on Saturday breakfast dates to avoid bedtime drama for the sitter. From time to time, Rob would bank a longer lunch break from the office so we could meet and catch up. We would even buy a secret stash of snacks and snuggle up with a “couch date” after the kiddos were asleep.
These days, we realize the kids are growing up way. too. fast. Instead of giving up evening family time, we seek each other out during the day. Whether catching up at a coffee shop, browsing a bookstore, or sharing a leisurely lunch, we date during school hours. If our days are full, we’ll head out for an hour or two after our youngest is tucked in for the night. A Friday sitter-dinner-movie is rare these days, but we make creative use of the hours we’ve got.
Make a date, a date.
For a while there, our dates were just a romantic term for errands. More often than not, we’d end up tasting samples at Costco before loading the trunk with toilet paper. We were kidding ourselves that a couple hours on our own constituted connection. We didn’t realize that we needed to sit still. Make eye contact. Hold hands. Talk about more than the shopping list at hand.
Now, we’ve learned to be intentional. Do we still shop at Costco? Yes, please! But if we want to truly communicate and draw closer, we give each other undivided attention. We make our time about each other instead of checking a box off the task list.
I’m not gonna lie–our work-life balance is a struggle. Rob and I can each become so wrapped up in our “stuff” that we forget to breathe. We figure the absence of conflict or tension means it’s all good between us. We’ll let too much time go by without pursuing each other’s heart. When that happens, one of us has to step up. Rob will announce he’s picked a time and place to go out. I’ll step between him and his laptop and say, “It’s time.” Rob will nail down a weekend to take me away. We take turns being assertive and doing what’s right for our marriage.
Knowing our tendency to let time slip by, we’re making the calendar our friend. We’ll look one and two weeks out and pick our times to spend together. If it’s in the schedule, we’re committed. We protect those hours and say “no” to interference. Planning ahead says our marriage is at the top of our list.
Planning ahead also builds anticipation. If we’re feeling lonely or detached, it’s reassuring to know connection is right around the corner. By go-time, we’ve mentally prepared to be present and available to each other. It’s a sweet respite from the hustle and pressure of the week.
The most significant change in our time together is spiritual. For the last couple of years, we’ve included prayer in our quality time together. It makes sense–we download our thoughts, feelings, and stresses to one another during a date. We can then take what we’ve shared to God in prayer together.
Our church has a beautiful prayer garden. We plan regular Monday visits to that garden to share scriptures we’ve been reading. We pray for our relationship, our family and friends, and the questions we’re wrestling through at the moment. As we get on the same page with each other about our lives, we meet with God and invite him into the middle of everything.
Prayer builds intimacy like nothing else. In prayer, we get real about our fears and hopes. Walls come down as we name our needs, one by one. It’s humbling, and we find ourselves confessing our failures and asking for help to love each other better. We join as brother and sister in Christ to fight for our loved ones in prayer. God has deepened our bond as we’ve spent more and more time with him, together.
I’m grateful I married a guy who’s motivated and has a strong work ethic. We love how God blessed us with a big family. He’s given us a community of friends who go deep and make us better people. Our lives are full of good, good things. Yet all this good must flow out of a rock-solid, intimate marriage relationship. If our relationship is shoved to the back burner, everything else suffers.
We’re just like you–life can feel like a runaway train. We become too busy, too fast. Each week’s demands are a threat to staying connected and close. When we commit to creativity, planning, and intentional time and prayer, we can hold on tight to each other. And, we can face the busyness of each day as a team, side by side.
Be devoted to one another in love.
Honor one another above yourselves.
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction,
faithful in prayer.
Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice!
Strive for full restoration,
encourage one another,
be of one mind, live in peace.
And the God of love and peace will be with you.
To help you bond when you’re busy, we’ve created date ideas, a daily devotional, and a book of prayers to bless your relationship: