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September 19, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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My father offered us a single piece of advice when we asked for his blessing in marriage: always make time for each other. He said life is fast and furious, and it’s easy to get caught up and carried away with life and its demands. We would have to ruthlessly look for time for each other if our marriage would be successful and rewarding.
As our thirty-year anniversary approaches, we are overwhelmed by the goodness and faithfulness of the Lord. Clearly we have made our share of mistakes and there have been truckloads of apologies and making up, but God’s presence and guidance continues to bring a convoy of gratitude.
Of the lessons we’ve learned, humility and forgiveness are two elements that were necessary over the last thirty years. We don’t try to tell others what to do; rather, we often find ourselves sharing strategies from God’s Word. These strategies have made our adventure of marriage more stable.
The central theme of my father’s advice was making the most of our time. Hands down, the thing that has helped us keep our schedules in line with our priorities is asking for God’s direction and seeking answers from His Word. Prayer is crucial. Only when we enter eternity will we see how God answered and directed us through time with Him, both in prayer and the enjoyment of His Word.
There have been many times in our marriage when we have not known what to do. Whether it was job opportunities to pursue, children to have, large purchases to consider, and now parents to care for, we didn’t have the solutions. So we fell on our knees and made time in prayer a priority. We also opened the Bible and sought His Words for direction.
In our family, making time for relationships and connections with others is paramount. We look for ways to spend time with people who will encourage our personal, spiritual, and emotional walks. We try to seek out those who are in need of our encouragement. All the “stuff” we accumulate and trivial work we do will one day have no value, but we will not regret the friendships we have maintained.
We also prioritize time in small groups and, particularly for our family, groups for couples to encourage us through the seasons of our lives. These groups have been for Bible study, outreach opportunities, and friendships. While walking through life together within community groups, we have over and over had the participants call us out, redirect what we thought was right, pray with us, and care for us. Even though many of the members in our groups have moved away physically, we stay in touch and in prayer for them, as we know that life, relationships, and change are all very challenging.
Finally, in an attempt to keep this blog from being another chapter in a book, the final thought is that, in order to know what to make time for within your family, you must know each other. Here are a few questions that will help you decide what to maximize and minimize in your life:
1. What is your spouse’s Love Language?
2. What does your spouse enjoy and value?
3. How can you serve your spouse?
4. What can you do to make life easier for your spouse?
5. What matters to your spouse?
Practically, knowing what to schedule and what to leave behind will come when I know the answer to the previous questions.
When I know my spouse’s Love Languages, I know the preference is, at least for my husband, quality time and not another gift.
When I know my spouse enjoys when I hang out with him while he does yard work more so than watching a movie, I offer to work with him there.
Knowing my husband loves for me to cook, I try to be prepared for meals by making a meal plan (and a crock-pot always helps!).
I help him with maintaining the schedules of our children so he is aware of their activities.
I also make it a point to listen more than I speak. I am trying to hear what matters most to him and join him on that adventure.
We are eternally grateful for my father’s words of advice thirty years ago. Maybe you too have received Godly advice on what to maximize and minimize within your marriage. Either way, let now be the moment you ask God for His help in making your time count.