marriage minute | on finding balance

Today's marriage minute is all about balance. Since Olivia was born (almost) 10 months ago, Dustin and I have both worked continuously at finding a healthy balance in our lives. Often,  balance as an individual can be difficult to achieve. But balance as a family, especially with a young one, can be even harder. Fortunately, through trial and error over time, we have reached a point where we are both really satisfied with the balance we have as individuals, as husband & wife, and as parents. 
So today I wanted to share a little of my insight on finding balance in a marriage and what is required to do so.

Balance Requires Respect for Your Spouse
Dustin works Monday through Friday, so naturally I am home with V each day during the week until Dustin gets home from work. We are renovating our downstairs bathroom right now and because Dustin is a Master Licensed Plumber, he is doing the majority of it himself (3 cheers!). Dustin could easily come home from work and spend 5+ hours working on the bathroom every day. When you're in the middle of a project that you enjoy working on or that you are anxious to finish, it can be difficult to call it quits. But after an hour and a half, Dustin does just that -- he stops for the day. And he stops out of respect for me. He cleans up, takes a shower and then devotes his time to Olivia and me for the evening. This gives me a little time to myself and it gives him time to be with V -- just the two of them. I appreciate his willingness to work hard at a project that we will both benefit from (a new bathroom) but I appreciate his willingness to stop and devote time to me and our daughter even more. That is finding balance. And that requires respect.

Yesterday was another perfect example of how balance requires respect. Dustin had the opportunity to attend a leadership conference yesterday afternoon. I had the opportunity to spend some time in the evening with my mom -- just the two of us. It was important to Dustin that he was able to attend his conference, so naturally it was also important to me. The same was true in reverse -- Dustin knew the importance of me having time with my mom because it is a priority of mine when I am given the opportunity. Instead of one of us doing something we want all day or all night, we each take turns doing things we enjoy -- Dustin went to his conference all afternoon and then I went out for a mother+daughter night with my Mama. I respected his decision to take the afternoon off work and attend the conference and he respected mine to spend the night out. When time is precious and you are always considering your little one, it requires us to be mindful of how we are using our time -- whether as an individual or as a couple. It also requires us respecting the other in how they choose to use their free time.

Balance Requires Time Apart
Balance in a marriage also comes in the form of being together and being apart. I know personally, it is so important that I have time to myself or time with another person other than my husband or daughter on a regular basis. Maybe it is dinner with a girlfriend of mine, a morning spent at my women's bible study with close friends from church, or maybe it's time with my mom or grandma. Sometimes its just at hot yoga by myself, in a room full of strangers. 
Regardless of how I spend that time, I feel so much closer to Dustin after I have taken time away from him and given time to myself. After Olivia was born, whenever we had a free night out or a few free hours during the day, we always spent that time together. We enjoyed ourselves, of course, but then we came to realize that we needed a more appropriate balance because as individuals we struggled to feel like ourselves. After a few months, I learned that it was okay if we had a few hours to ourselves and we didn't spend them together. Maybe Dustin went out to lunch with a friend and I went to the gym on my own. Or maybe I ran errands and he napped at home while Olivia was with Grandma. Time apart helps bring balance and so many benefits to your marriage, even if it seems counterintuitive. 

Balance Requires Discernment in Our Commitments as a Couple
Finally, balance in our marriage comes in what we commit to as a couple. It can be easy to always be entertaining, saying "yes" to every opportunity and accepting offers left and right. We are active in our church and have so many wonderful friends that we love to spend our time with, as well as an incredible family, but we also know the importance of saying no, and spending time resting and relaxing as a couple. 

Another thing that happened after Olivia was born was that I was entertaining friends and family all the time! I remember thinking to myself that I could never have people over right after having a baby and guess what? Within a week, I was hosting a dinner party! Who knows what prompted me to do that, but probably because I love people so much and I love to open my home and bless others with my cooking, baking and hospitality. But I also needed balance. At the end of the day, most days, we don't have energy to entertain friends or to go out to a special event or get-together. Some days we do, but most days we are content just cooking dinner together at home, playing with our sweetheart, tucking her in, and ending the night together catching some Zzz's. We discovered the importance of being discerning in what we commit to and what we pass on.

We achieved balance in these three areas by sitting down and spending some time talking about what was important to us. We shared our thoughts and feelings related to time management and how we wanted to spend our time, whether together or apart. We set up guidelines as to how we would approach opportunities, projects, etc. Through those conversations, we came to understand what was important to each other and what we expected of one another related to our time, because after having a baby, we had to learn a "new normal" in time management.

These questions may help you in doing the same:
In his free time, what is important to your husband?

In her free time, what is important to your wife?

What are your husband's favorite activities? What does he need to do on a regular basis for himself? 
(For Dustin, it is having time each week to go to the gym and uninterrupted time to read each night)

What are your wife's favorite activities? What does she need to do on a regular basis for herself? 
(For me, it is going to yoga and having time at my bible study)

What commitments are you going to make a priority as a couple? 

What activities as a couple (just the two of you) do enjoy doing and want to make a priority when time allows?

How are you going to decide to say yes or no to an opportunity? 

These are questions we discussed and through answering them, we came to understand a lot more about each other and a lot more about our goals in our marriage as we adjusted to caring for a new little life. And while we have some days where finding a balance is difficult, more often than not we are really content with where we're at. 

1 comment:

  1. Love this post! Balance is so important in marriage and so easy to neglect. I love that you two went through those questions together. My husband and I would probably benefit from the same. Thank you!


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