I don’t mind leftovers every once in a while. In fact, I like them sometimes. It just makes sense to have that leftover meatloaf instead of wasting it. Sometimes it’s just plain necessary because of financial or time constraints.
Well, sometimes leftovers are necessary in our relationships, too. If a child is sick for a few days, Dad may not get all the attention from Mom that he wants. If he just found out that he has to work the extra shift, she may have to understand that the romantic dinner will have to be rescheduled. You get the picture. The cares of this world—fatigue, sickness, finances, jobs—sometimes create roadblocks in relationships.
But leftovers in relationships should be the exception rather than the rule. The rule should be to give your spouse your freshest and best—the first fruits of your time and energy—not your leftovers.
The rule should be to give your spouse your freshest and best—the first fruits of your time and energy—not your leftovers.
So, how can you give your spouse your best? Here are 5 marriage tips to remember:
1. Have the Mindset that your Spouse is a Top Priority. In the 10 best decisions I’ve made in marriage, I shared that Susan and I have always tried our best to make each other a top priority. One time when one of our daughters was young, Susan and I were on our way out the door for a date. Well, our daughter didn’t like that and started crying and threw a fit. Well, Susan quickly addressed the situation and shared with her that “Mommy and Daddy’s time together is very important and we are going on a date right now. We’ll be home soon.” Susan made it very clear to my daughter, and to me, that I’m a top priority for her.
2. Create a Stop Doing List. As I shared in 6 Steps to Control your Crazy Busy Life, take some time to identify why, where, and how you are so busy. Keep a timeline for a week, detailing all that you do, from work to commuting to family commitments and hobbies. Chances are that at first glance, all that you list will seem to be good things. But something has to go. Separate that list into two columns: the first, important/non-negotiable and the second, negotiable. Now you are going to have to make some hard choices about eliminating items from column two. That golf game on Saturday with your friends may be fun, but can you find another way and time to meet with your friends that doesn’t swallow up so much time? When you stop doing things that are not the most important things, you’ll have more time for your spouse.
3. Create a Start Doing List. As you execute your Stop Doing list, you’ll free up some time. So that time doesn’t get consumed with something else, make a list of a few things you can do with and for your spouse. These 6 Dating Tips for Married Couples may be a good place to start.
4. Calendar it. Calendar specific times each week when you will do things with and for your spouse. Also, calendar times during the day to show your spouse your appreciation—a quick text, phone call or e-mail. Waiting until the last thing at night, before bed, when you are utterly exhausted is not the best option. For those times when you can actually get away, here are 8 Outside-the-Box Date Ideas.
5. Concentrate on Them. Perhaps like me, you’ve been in a restaurant and seen other couples more focused on their smartphones than each other. Don’t go there. The latest technology makes it easier for us to relay information to each other, but nothing really helps us relate better than old-fashioned face-to-face conversation.
Are you giving your spouse your freshest and best, or your leftovers? Share your comments below.