Jill: The last two Saturdays were the first Saturdays we’ve had home in months. Our speaking schedule keeps us traveling on the weekends in the spring and the fall. However, summer brings a change of pace and we’re home more on the weekends.
Mark: Jill always has a “to-do” list of things that need to be fixed around the house. She often verbalizes it and even writes it down on paper. I also have a “to-do” list in my head but I don’t always verbalize it. I just mentally add it below the items on her list…and of course, I rarely get to those!
Jill: The first Saturday in June I said nothing to Mark about anything on my list. He had mentioned to me that he wanted to fix our dusk to dawn light out by the barn as well as a few other things that were important to him to do. Quite honestly, some of the things that were important to him–meaning they were bugging him–weren’t bothering me at all. They wouldn’t have made my list. But I didn’t say a thing. I let him do the things that were important to him.
Mark: What’s important to you may not be important to your spouse. And what’s important to your spouse may not be important to you. However, we have to let our spouse have the space and time to do the things that are important to him or her. Our desires don’t always outweigh their desires.
Jill: Need some practical steps on how to give your spouse the space for their priorities? Here are three:
Keep your mouth shut.
Last weekend there were things I would have liked to accomplish but I decided to simply stay quiet and not put those on Mark’s radar. I recognized he needed a day to accomplish his priorities so I didn’t way anything about my priorities or my thoughts about his priorities. I simply let him have the entire day for his projects. So much of marriage is keeping your opinions to yourself!
Ask your spouse how they would like to use their day.
If there’s a day with nothing on the calendar or even an evening with nothing planned, it’s nice to ask, “How would you like to spend the evening?” or “How would you like to spend tomorrow?”
This is a great way to give your spouse the space to share how they’d like to spend their time. It’s also a great way to meet in the middle. Mark might say, “I just want a remote night…I need to be brainless and watch TV,” while I might say, “I’d love to take a walk.” So we take a walk and then head in for a little channel surfing. We cooperate to make it a win/win for both of us.
Ask your spouse if there is anything they would like to do or get done.
Last Saturday we had an outdoor water spigot that needed to be replaced. I knew Mark was planning to work on that but it didn’t take all day. He then announced he was going to spray our fruit trees and was there anything else I felt needed to be done? I was so grateful he asked. I shared two things–some plants that needed to be transplanted and a few weeds that needed to be tended to in our flower beds– and we were able to get those accomplished together. It may not be tasks that need to get done at all. It may be a hobby they want some time for!
Mark: Too often we’re far more selfish than we realize we are in marriage. We’re also far more outspoken than we need to be. We want our priorities to be our spouse’s priorities. We make comment on our spouse’s desires or priorities. This week give your spouse the space to do their own thing. Completely leave out your opinion about the task or the activity. Doing so will be a gift to your marriage!
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