The third step to creating a lasting, loving, and healthy marriage is to commit your time and your heart to your companion. When we love and value something, we spend time working on it.
Are you committing yourself fully to your marriage and your spouse?
Here are the Six Essential Steps to Create An Amazing Marriage:
- Communicate positively
The Third Step: Commit Your Time and Your Heart to Your Companion
I have a friend in Oregon named Barbara Winkel. She and her husband Bryce wrote the book “Isn’t it about Time for your Marriage?” They have wonderful thoughts about commitment that I’d like to share with you.
“A major problem in many marriages today is over-commitment to interests and activities outside of marriage. This is a form of marital suicide. If you are too tired to do anything together - because of over-involvement in so many activities that you’re exhausted - you have no advantage over couples who don’t want to do anything together.”
“To prove his love for her, he swam the deepest river, crossed the widest desert and climbed the highest mountain. She divorced him. He was never home!”
Ask yourself right now, “What activity am I doing that competes with my marriage because it takes too much time?"
I lived for many years in California, then Washington...where fruit trees grow easily. I loved the beautiful trees laden with blossoms and then fruit. I remember the first time I saw an orchard being pruned. I was horrified! What in the world were those men doing cutting the branches of the trees to stubs? How terrible!
I learned later that the act of cutting and pruning is the very process that allows the remaining branches to flower and produce larger, better-quality fruit.
The Winkels wrote, “In a similar way, life offers many opportunities for our talents and interests to branch out. The wise person prioritizes his life and prunes some of his lower-priority interests. This might mean pruning some interests that are worthwhile and enjoyable. But since we can’t do everything, we must learn, as marriage partners, to “just say no” to some lower-priority requests for our time. Remember to smile when saying “no” because in reality, you’re saying “yes” to something of higher priority.
Ask yourself right now, “What activity am I doing that competes with my marriage because it takes too much time? (Raising children doesn’t count!)
Approach it with the same discipline you use to follow a healthy diet. You choose not to eat or drink certain things because you know they‘re not good for your body. Likewise, cut certain activities from your life because they’re in competition with your marriage, and not as important. You may have convinced yourself that you “have to” work late, or play golf, or be on the PTA board.... But the truth is, you choose to do these things, and you have the same freedom to choose not to do them.
Look those outside commitments squarely in the eye. Compare the time you invest in them vs. the same amount of time invested in your marriage. Do they have the potential to bring you the same long-term return? If not, prune away!”
When we love and value something, we spend time on it. Despite our lip service, we can tell what we truly value by how much time we invest in it. For example, a person who loves to golf, garden fish, read, scrapbook, somehow makes the time to do these things. If you truly value your marriage, you’ll somehow create the time to nurture your relationship.
Now I’d like for us to do a little mental exercise. We’re going to visualize something. Imagine, for just a moment, that you’re 90 years old. Are you there? You’re sitting in a very comfortable chair. You’re remembering your life… thinking back through the years on all of the choices you made, where you lived, what you did with your time....
Now, in your mind, answer the following questions:
- What things do you remember best about your married life?
- Where did your family vacation?
- How did you spend your money?
- Would you list your spouse high on your list of best friends?
- Did you laugh often together?
- Did you compliment each other?
- How did you handle differences of opinion?
- How did you express your love to one another?
- As Samuel Johnson said, “The future is bought with the present.” Are we presently building the marriage memories that we want to look back on?
Please keep an eye out for Step 4: Communicate Positively, the next article in Dr. Paula's series on creating an amazing marriage.
Dr. Paula Fellingham is the Founder and CEO of the Women’s Information Network (WIN), an educational and social network for women, and a global community of women: www.WomensInformationNetwork.com. The WIN hosted the largest gathering of women in history for the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day on March 8, 2011: 377 live events in 152 countries.
Paula has given presentations to delegates at the United Nations, for the World Movement of Mothers in Paris, and at numerous other conferences across the world.
As a magazine contributor, Paula has written articles for People Magazine, International Business Times, Boston Globe, ABC 11, Worth Magazine, Family Living, Executive Excellence.
Paula received her Bachelor of Arts in 1971, and her Doctorate in 2004. Dr. Gilbert Fellingham (University Professor of Statistics) and Paula are the parents of 8 children, and the grandparents of 24 grandchildren.
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