What if there were one thing you could do to make your marriage better? I don’t mean one amorphous, totally huge thing like, “Love your husband better!” (I think it’s mean when something THAT big is characterized as “one thing.”)
No, I literally mean, one simple task that takes between 5 and 10 minutes (tops) and should be done at the start of each week. Are you ready to find out what it is?
It’s husband scheduling.
Not familiar with the term? Well, that may be because I made it up. But, stick with me…
I talk to women every week about their marriage challenges. And, there is usually one common theme that has something to do with time. Either they don’t get enough time with him, he doesn’t spend enough time with the kids, they don’t know what time he’ll be home, or they don’t know how much time he’ll be away, time…time…time! It’s a part of every conversation.
My husband works out of our home. We have people over, a lot. He has meetings at our house. He has meetings other places. He has early morning meetings. He has later, evening meetings. We have two children in two different schools. Add onto that my three part time jobs and some extra curricular activities for three of us, and most weeks we could only muddle through –from one obligation to the next– frustrated over how hard it was to know who was where. What was always missing was intentional time together. And, what was always frustrating (for me) was not being prepared for the new rhythm of the next week.
That’s why for the last several years, every Sunday night, we do this:
It’s a schedule for the week. Each day of the week is divided into three general sections – morning, afternoon, and evening. It’s obviously lacking most of the detail that happens during a regular week — but it’s main point is not to capture every detail, but to show us the big things that impact us both– like nights when he’ll be away or mornings that he will be gone before we even wake up, meetings at our house, or extra commitments we may have forgotten to actually tell the other person we made!
This schedule also allows us to look at the entire scheme of the week and schedule time FOR each other. That is the big QT on there. When we were first given this idea, the goal was for us to have at least 3 blocks of “QT” or quality time each week. Now, (four kids later), we usually plan for two nights where we try to do something together and then one night as a date night, where we will go out if we can find a babysitter. We try to get a feel for the entire week before penciling in the “QT” — because realistically if we schedule it on a night where he has a 6am meeting or I have a day full of errands, kid shuffling, and deadlines: we know it won’t happen. Our quality time will be spent sound asleep.
You might also notice on there the words “FREE TIME.” You may think it’s silly to put “free time” on your calendar — why not just let the empty spaces be free time, right? But, here’s why this is helpful. When free time is written on the schedule no one feels slighted or ignored. I’m not angry if my husband doesn’t raise his head out of his book all evening because it’s his time. Likewise, if I’m pinning like a wild woman or blogging…he doesn’t care. Since we have set time for each other, we don’t get disconnected by spending too many nights doing our own thing. Yet, we know we have some set aside space and freedom to be alone.
I know what you are thinking. Isn’t there an app for that? Why not enter this century and use your phones? Let me tell you that we do still use our iPhones…we sync calendars and treat every doctor’s appointment and relevant meeting as schedule requests. That’s where the details of who, where and when are still kept. But, for some reason, when it comes to helping our marriage…nothing works as well as having this simple sheet of paper on the refrigerator.
Part of the reason is that we are visual people — so seeing it… having it right there to reference… is a tremendous help.
The other benefit is that doing this schedule creates a set time (often before the hectic week begins) where we can take a gaze at the whole week ahead and mentally sync. It’s my chance to ask questions like, “Hey – I saw that meeting was scheduled for Monday night — does that mean you won’t be home for dinner?” It’s also a chance to look at our week and notice things like, “Wow, one of us is going to miss dinner every night this week….” Or, “We don’t have a lot going on this week, maybe it’s a good time to invite friends over…”
If many of your marriage struggles are about time…if you are losing touch with each other in the shuffle of the day to day grind. I’d encourage you to give our simple schedule a try! Let me know how you like it!
Have other ways you love that keep your marriage in sync? Please share!