How We Stay Connected In Our Marriage When Life Is Busy
I haven’t written a post specifically about a marriage topic in a while! Marriage is one of my favorite subjects to write about, but a lot of my blogging lately has centered more around pregnancy and baby girl. 🙂 We’re down to less than 3 weeks at this point, which is super exciting, but I wanted to take today and focus on marriage itself a bit.
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I’ll admit, I do feel a little funny writing about handling busy seasons when we haven’t even had our baby yet! Now THAT will bring us to a whole new level of intense busyness! 😉
However, what I can do is write about what I do know. And we’re used to some pretty busy times of life around here. Busy seasons have forced us to be intentional about connecting and prioritizing the special relationship of marriage, even when life’s responsibilities swirl all around us!
A Note on Being Busy:
I think there’s something to be said for busy times in life, or being productive, but also for building time into your schedule for relaxation or at least resetting yourself. This post is not meant to encourage or recommend being extremely busy. I’m just describing our life and how we do it. 🙂
Being busy looks different for every family, of course! Some people feel busy when they have a couple weekly commitments; others’ definition of busy means they have something scheduled for every single day! “Busy” is often a feeling of having a lot going on, whether or not someone were to analyze your personal calendar to count your actual commitments.
Sometimes, it’s a certain season in life that is just more intense, with a lot on the calendar, and sometimes people just plain like to be busy with a lot on the calendar all the time! (And, sometimes life just IS busy and the calendar IS full, without us necessarily trying to do that!) The life Bjorn and I have together seems to be a combination of this; we have certain seasons every year that are really busy and full, but we also do like to be involved in things! 🙂
However, like I said, this post isn’t to encourage people TO be busy. I think we have to know ourselves and what we can personally (and mentally/emotionally/physically) handle on our plate. I’m different from my husband in that I like to be involved in less than he is, but that also allows me to support and encourage him in his endeavors whenever I can! I like the different ways God made us, even in terms of what all we like to be involved in, because I think we complement each other.
Everyone has a personal level of busyness that suits them best. And finding the level of busyness that works for you (and uses your talents) will help you be fulfilled and it will bring God glory.
Bjorn has a particular set of skills and giftings that I do not have. And I have my own talents that aren’t the same as his. This is part of the beauty and mystery of being unique people with unique callings! (And it explains why everyone has different types of commitments that suit them best.)
What “Busy” Looks Like For Us:
In our household, we are especially busy in the spring and fall, when it’s planting or harvest season, which adds farming more intensely to the mix. But outside of farming our field of soybeans, Bjorn is a middle school history teacher. That’s what he does during the day Monday through Friday. In addition, Bjorn is an officer in the Army Reserves (which involves monthly army drill plus longer trainings during the year). He is the Knowledge Bowl coach and an assistant cross country coach during different times of the school year. Bjorn is also the mayor of our town and is getting his Masters degree, so he often has various meetings and homework happening in the evenings when he’s not farming. Uffda!
So, between army/farming/teaching/Masters courses/coaching/mayor responsibilities, there’s a lot going on for my husband! Weekdays are full, weeknights often have something, and weekends usually have commitments or responsibilities as well. But Bjorn makes it work – and work well. He manages his time wisely and doesn’t get stressed out, which has allowed him to make a positive difference in the lives of people with whom he interacts.
As far as my own schedule, this year is currently looking a lot quieter for me (note: this is BEFORE little baby girl gets here, haha!). I’m an elementary teacher, so usually that’s my full-time job, but this year I’m taking the school year off to be at home with our daughter. I also blog (obviously) and I’m a consultant for Rodan + Fields skincare products.
I’ve always known Bjorn was an ambitious man, but as the years have gone by (I’ve known him for 7 years now), I’ve come to realize that he certainly thrives on being involved in a lot of things! 🙂 His ambition is something I love and admire about him. I love that he strives to fill his days with useful, God-honoring work, and I love that he is using the talents God gave him to take on responsibilities suited for him instead of shrinking back from leadership roles. Can you tell I’m very proud of him? 🙂 I know I brag about him a bit, but I’d say that’s a pretty good thing for a wife to want to do. 😉
My purpose for describing our family’s “busyness level” is because I wanted to give you a picture of how our family functions. And then, my hope for this post is to encourage you by sharing some ways that Bjorn and I have learned to stay connected when our calendar is full! Since I don’t see life slowing down anytime soon, I’ve realized just how important it is to be intentional about prioritizing each other! 🙂
How We Stay Connected With Each Other:
We share funny things with each other. I just love exchanging funny photos or videos over Facebook Messenger and laughing about them with Bjorn! We have very similar senses of humor, which makes marriage a lot more fun! 😉 Just using something like Facebook Messenger or texting to share funny stuff throughout the week is a blast, and a great way to connect over non-stressful things in life!
The love language of food. I personally think food is an extension of thoughtfulness! It means a lot to Bjorn, I’ve learned, when I don’t just offer him cheese and crackers for supper. He loves lasagna so I made lasagna roll-ups the other night (you can find the recipe in my freezer meals post) and he really appreciated it. I have to say, though, that for the majority of our marriage, Bjorn has taken care of me food-wise. 🙂 He is much better than me when it comes to evaluating what’s in our cupboards and coming up with a meal idea in the evenings. I’m working on it – hopefully all my crockpot meals will help with my “chef’s block” moments! But to care for each other by providing thoughtful meals or snacks is another nice way to show your spouse you’re looking out for them!
Call to check in on each other during breaks in the day. I can’t tell you how much time Bjorn and I have spent on the phone while he’s been driving tractor, or while one of us makes a long drive home. It’s been a lot! I even love when he calls me over his lunch break when he’s at work! It’s just nice to check in with each other and share joys or funny stories. (Something I try not to do is think, “Oh, good, it’s you – here’s a list of my concerns and all the tasks we need to get done today.” It’s important to talk about those to-do list things sometimes, but not all the time. I want to use “checking-in time” for checking in positively with each other!) It seriously makes my day when I get a couple minutes to chat with my Bear and reconnect with him during a busy day.
Make an effort to actually spend time together. Even during busy seasons, I don’t really feel like “I never get to see Bjorn.” When he comes home in the evenings, I make sure I’m around to give him a hug, hear about his day, eat supper with him, or sit near him while we each work on homework or blogging. The more difficult times of year are when he teaches all day, and then must hop in a tractor and farm until 10 pm. But that’s where calling and chatting on the phone — and bringing him supper — come into play. Some of my favorite moments are chatting with each other early in the morning; this was the case during our past 4 years of teaching (and carpooling) together. This year, with me taking the school year off, I still have been trying to get up when he does so we can spend time chatting in the kitchen and eating breakfast together before he leaves for work. Baby may change some of that, but the important thing is that we are creating little “pockets” of time in our day to sit near each other and connect! And I know Bjorn will be dying to come home and cuddle his little daughter whenever possible. 🙂
This kind of goes in line with the idea of NOT living separate lives. It’s a little open to interpretation. To me, this means when you come home from work, not to mumble one-word answers to each other, spend the rest of the evening in separate parts of the house, and then go to bed separately…only to repeat the same pattern again the next day. I’m not referring to quiet times that each of us need – alone time is okay, whether for introverting or working on something! – but I do think it can be dangerous to go your entire day and night with barely a word spoken to each other…especially when you do have the opportunity.
Don’t underestimate notes. You know how moms sometimes leave notes in their kids’ lunch boxes? That’s because even a little note really can matter! I like to leave notes for Bjorn in his backpack or on his nightstand – and sometimes, in his army packs when he leaves for an army training (hehe). Notes mean a lot to me, too. I still have notes (usually something like a simple sticky note) saved that Bjorn wrote for me. A note shows you’ve been thinking of them and it is meaningful that you paused in your busy day to handwrite something thoughtful or cute.
Remember to say “I love you.” In all of the hustle and bustle, it can be easy to let that slide. It’s only three little words, after all, right? Well, no. Sometimes an “I love you” makes all the difference. “I love you” means “I choose you, I cherish you, I’m committed to you.” I never want to miss out on actually saying this out loud.
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Encouragement and not complaints when you see each other. When we’re in an especially busy season of life, and there are only so many minutes in the day, it’s important to make sure our interactions are generally positive. Of course, things like finances and bills and house projects need to be talked about – communication is huge! – but I shouldn’t barrage Bjorn the second he walks in the door with a to-do list or complaints.
Cheerleading. This takes on so many forms. Mostly, I make sure I celebrate with him whatever small or big successes he’s sharing with me. (And Bjorn is the same way with me – he gets excited about my endeavors, too!)
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Learn how to truly listen. It’s so tempting just to sit on our phones now days, or constantly glance at our computer screen when someone is talking to us. But I’m working on truly listening to Bjorn with more undivided attention than before. When people don’t feel listened to, they won’t feel a connection with you at all. Learning how to truly, authentically listen is key to building stronger relationships!
Finally, pray for opportunities to connect. Even if it’s those little “pockets” of time I mentioned earlier, sometimes what matters is the quality and not the quantity.
We’ll most definitely have to learn (and re-learn!) over time how to manage the new “chaos” that a baby will bring into our household and marriage, but I do rest in the fact that we are determined to prioritize what is truly important to us. After our commitment to God, Bjorn and I prioritize our marriage and family, and always want it to be that way. I know some days will be a struggle to balance everything out, but it’s nice to have some strategies already in place in our marriage that will help us stay connected through life’s ebbs and flows!
How do you stay connected with your spouse when life is busy?
PS — if you enjoy reading about marriage, you can find all my marriage-related posts here!