Life is busy. So busy. But so often we let other people and other things run our schedules and in the process of allowing this to happen: what really matters to us gets bumped. Like time with our spouse…Date nights…Fun nights…Just time to hang out. What can we do to change that?

We all hit phases in life that are busy. It is totally normal! If this is you right now, don’t worry, it doesn’t mean your marriage is done – you’ve done well just to recognize the stage you’re in.

I like the phrase from the Bible verse from Ecclesiastes 9:9 which says “Enjoy life with your wife”! Sometimes we get so serious about life that we forget to create good times together, but marriage researchers have known for a long time that happily married couples enjoy leisure activities together. This is evident in the research as far back as 1951 – married people have been having fun for quite a while!

A particular pair of researchers way back then, wanted to look particularly at the crowd of married folk who were transitioning to parenthood for the first time. They found that initially, leisure time dropped but then started to go back up after the first several weeks of new parenting had passed.

However, here’s what is interesting. They looked at the leisure before marriage as well. If there was SHARED leisure prenatally, there was more marital love and less conflict one year later. If there was only independent leisure prenatally, there was less love and more conflict 1 year later.

SO: creating shared leisure time is good! Build positivity into your marriage as a buffer against future stress.[i]

The good news is that in marriages today, more married couples are sharing leisure time than was happening in 2003, 1975, or back in 1965. In this study, the researchers found that dual-earner couples spent less time in the presence of their spouse than single-earner couples. If you’re a dual-earner couple, this is tougher for you.

They also found, not surprisingly, that the presence of children equated to a drop in the amount of joint leisure time with a spouse.[ii]

Again, this is a normal situation to find yourself in. Many folks feel that they’re the only ones struggling, but they’re not. You are not alone. We all face these challenges! So, what can we do about all of this?

First thing – drop the idea of time management. You can’t manage time. Time happens whether you think you’re managing it or not. Thinking too hard about trying to force time to do something for you means that you’re giving he power over to something outside your control. You can’t stop time or make it go slower!

What you can manage is your SELF! Forget about time management and think about self-management.

FREE GUIDE: Weekly Planning Calendar

This weekly calendar is what Caleb uses each week. Use it to see how to manage your time and then customize it for yourself.

So, how can we bring this into our daily lives?

First, think about WHAT you do when you are together. How do you manage yourself during the time you have together?

Here are some things for you to think about:

1. Most couple’s time together is meal times, the evening and night.

2. Do not cut back on sleep. As Shawn Stevenson told us in episode 38, sleep impacts the quality of your marriage. Again, do not cut back on sleep!

3. Think about the role of TV and movies in your life. Caleb and I do not own a TV, nor do we subscribe to Netflix or any such streaming service. We do breath oxygen and put our pants on one leg at a time, so we’re not totally weird! The decision to live free from all sources of streaming media is a huge blessing to our family because we have WAY more time together, and when we’re together we’re not distracted by the TV or watching a movie.

Think seriously about how much time you spend watching TV and video. Have you heard the saying, “We’re all in this together – alone”? Look at the time you have together and remove the ‘alone’ piece.

4. Review your working hours. The research says that lack of time together is largely due to the combination of long working hours and the presence of younger children.[iii] You can’t reduce the number of children, and you usually think you can’t reduce the number of working hours. Honestly though, sometimes you have to choose between your standard of living and quality of life.

Don’t be fooled into thinking they’re the same thing. It is extremely valuable to your marriage to try to eat together, spend time together in the evening, and to go out together from time to time.

It is going to be a challenge, but if you sit down together, and you both want to achieve this outcome, you’ll find ways to do so.

In episode 54, Ten Ways to Court Your Spouse, we also referred to this final piece of research from The National Marriage Project. Those researchers noted that husbands and wives who engaged in couple time with their spouse at least once a week were approximately 3.5 times more likely to report being “very happy” in their marriages, compared to those who enjoyed less quality time with their spouse.[iv]

That is just one more plug to really compel you to consider this seriously. This really matters. It really makes a difference. I know every once in a while in our marriage it feels like it goes a little chilly. Often times, we have just lost the habit of spending quality time together. When we figure out how to restore that, things warm up again very quickly.

FREE GUIDE: Weekly Planning Calendar

This weekly calendar is what Caleb uses each week. Use it to see how to manage your time and then customize it for yourself.

If you need help with this, give us a call and we can set up some coaching today!


[i] Amy Claxton and Maureen Perry-Jenkins, “No Fun Anymore: Leisure and Marital Quality Across the Transition to Parenthood,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 70, no. 1 (February 1, 2008): 28–43.

[ii] Marieke Voorpostel, Tanja van der Lippe, and Jonathan Gershuny, “Spending Time Together–Changes Over Four Decades in Leisure Time Spent with a Spouse,” Journal of Leisure Research 42, no. 2 (April 1, 2010), http://js.sagamorepub.com/jlr/article/view/376.

[iii] Ignace Glorieux, Joeri Minnen, and Theun Pieter van Tienoven, “Spouse ‘Together Time’: Quality Time Within the Household,” Social Indicators Research 101, no. 2 (April 2011): 281–87, doi:10.1007/s11205-010-9648-x.

[iv] Bradford Wilcox and Jeffrey Dew, The Date Night Opportunity: What Does Coupe Time Tell Us About the Potential Value of Date Nights? (The National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, 2012), http://nationalmarriageproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/NMP-DateNight.pdf.

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