Is Your Spouse Low on Your List of Priorities?
In my work with couples, one of the most conflicting things I hear is, my wife is the most important thing to me, or my marriage is definitely a priority, yet, when we dig deep into a typical day in the life of these individuals, there is little or no time devoted at all to the partner or to the relationship.
Last year, I was working with a female client who was struggling in her marriage. We were working on building habits into her daily and weekly routine that would strengthen her relationship with her husband, replacing some of the habits that were keeping them separate and out of touch with each other. We discussed the idea of “date night,” and she immediately rolled her eyes. “I don’t have any more time in my schedule for date night. My week is completely booked with other obligations.”
So, I challenged her a little by reminding her that, earlier, she had indicated her marriage was a definite priority, yet her actions, in terms of the way she had designed her day and week, didn’t reflect that priority. In fact, there was no time at all set aside for alone time with her husband, even for as little as fifteen minutes.
My client got a little uncomfortable at this point. There were things in her life and in her schedule that she didn’t think she would want to “give up,” and, she felt that in order to make time for her relationship with her husband, she would have to let go of something she didn’t want to. In fact, she bluntly stated, “Listen, I am willing to try this whole date night thing as long as it doesn’t interfere with my weekly outings with my girlfriends.”
Now, here’s the thing. In my coaching practice, I never judge. It’s not up to me to decide what my clients should or shouldn’t want, nor what they should or shouldn’t do. My only job is to find out exactly what they want, and then make sure we formulate a plan to get that.
I’m also a strong proponent for nurturing deep relationships with friends. Girlfriends are an essential ingredient in my life design, and our “girls nights out” are something I cherish and look forward to, and would also never want to give up.
Maybe you are someone who wants your girlfriends to be more of a priority than your husband, and he may even be okay with that – which is all just fine. If that’s the case, then you would definitely want to make sure your weekly outings with friends were not compromised, as that’s where you’ve chosen to place priority.
However, this client sought my help because her relationship was suffering. Their marriage felt very disconnected, and there was a lot of arguing, blaming and resentment going on between the two of them. She wanted to change that. She wanted to feel close to her husband again and feel like a couple rather than roommates. She said, sincerely, that her husband and marriage was a priority in her life. At the end of our discussion, she realized this wasn’t true. She wanted him to be a priority, but hadn’t made him one.
You see, if it’s true that our spouse or our kids are our priority, wouldn’t it make sense that, outside of our employment responsibilities, we would put the people we love on our calendar FIRST and then schedule everything else around that?
You days and weeks are full of the things YOU put in there. Things you said yes to, things you thought were necessary, things you put priority on.
Our priorities are indicated by what we DO, not by what we say. When you identify your priorities, based on the life you want to live, make sure your calendar reflects those priorities or you will find yourself getting much less than the life and relationships you want.