Is Your Marriage a Business Model or a Friendship?
Have you ever seen on Facebook or LinkedIn someone with the job title: “CEO of My Household?”
If you have a family — particularly a family with small children — you can relate. Running a household sometimes feels like running a corporation. Supervision, management, delegation, and organization play a key role in having a happily functioning home.
Yet as true as this may be, do you ever feel like these continual responsibilities and “to-dos,” are turning you and your spouse into business partners, rather than best friends?
Back at the Beginning
Recall the time when you and your spouse first met, days likely filled with beautiful moments spent together, engaging in shared activities and interests.
Your dates and shared hobbies were special times set aside for you to get to know each other, recreate together, and build your relationship through mutual enjoyment. These are critical opportunities for a man and woman to learn more about each other. A trip to the movies could initiate a “big picture” conversation: what questions about life does the movie pose and how would you answer them? Sharing the responsibilities of preparing and cooking a meal gives the couple a chance to work cooperatively. Does one person try to control and direct everything? Is the task of cleaning up shared or left behind for one person to tackle alone? A day of skiing may reveal more about someone’s character: is she patient waiting in line? Is he generous in offering to pay?
Sharing interests and hobbies is fun! They are incredibly important too. These moments forge a strong relationship and give a man and woman the chance to continually discern if God is calling them to marriage.
Pleasure Doing Business With You
After marriage, dates assume a different, but just as valuable, role. Dates aren’t a testing ground anymore; they are the building ground of marriage. Shared interests and hobbies are essential for married life.
Yet so often the business of running a household looms overwhelmingly in a marriage. A husband and wife trade the Cliffs-notes version of their days, covering what tasks they completed and what remains … perhaps comparing “to do” lists and creating a war strategy to divide and conquer the final chores and errands.
It is hard to converse about big picture topics at the dinner table, over the screams of a toddler. Forget about leisurely cooking dinner with one another: dinner is often thrown together between the children getting off the bus and your son’s baseball practice. And skiing? Maybe you can make that a fun family outing, but it’s not the same as a date for two.
Getting married makes a person turn outward, focusing not only on herself, but also on her handsome groom. The blessing of children makes a couple turn from each other, focusing on the needs of the precious souls God entrusted to their care. This is the way God designed it and it entails sacrificing one’s personal needs and desires for the good of the other: our love grows and deepens through marriage and having children.
But, in loving our children, we can’t forget that one of the best things we can do for them is to love our spouse. That means finding ways — sometimes creative ones — to spend quality time with your beloved, just as you did when you were dating. You aren’t just business partners. Your marriage must be more than discussing bills or arranging schedules. You need time to relate on a deeper, intimate, heart-to-heart level.
A Tale for Two
My husband and I are blessed to be married for twelve years. We have not always been good about prioritizing time for dates. I am grateful, however, because we have found a way, in the midst of having four children, to share a hobby we love.
Shortly after getting married, Chris and I began to write a novel. As children, Chris and I both dreamed of being published authors, and our newlywed period afforded us the time to leisurely envision the world and characters of our story. We would plan the plot together over dinner, brainstorming and building on one another’s ideas.
That story unfolded alongside the story of our marriage. Sometimes we had to work on it separately. I would write a chapter in the early hours of the morning, awake with a nursing baby; Chris would write in the later hours of the night, when I was fast asleep. We would take turns writing, editing, and rewriting — a volley back and forth over the years.
As we matured and grew, so did our novel. In the process, we deepened our knowledge and appreciation of the other’s skill set: not identical, but complementary. As I often have said to Chris, “I never could have produced a book like this alone. We could only have done it together.”
Our book gave us the opportunity to step away from the business side of running a household, to create and imagine something totally different. We are made in the image and likeness of a God who is the supreme Creator: an incredibly expressive, innovator Creator. So it is in the very design of who we are to create — a process that is work in its best sense, since it also recreates and refreshes the mind and spirit.
Find Something You Can Share
What is it that you and your spouse shared during those early days of dating that you may have lost along the way? What activities initially bonded you together, which can still strengthen your marriage? Is it dancing, fishing, gardening, thrifting, reading, art, sports? Husbands and wives will have their own personal interests apart from one another: they are individuals, after all. But in marriage, two become one, and sharing something together — aside from household chores, finances, and errands — will build your marriage into the most beautiful story of all.