Strengthening marriage means spending time together.
During our 30 years of marriage, my husband and I have not kept the same shift. Most people (83.2 percent) work between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. For part of our marriage he was among the estimated 4.6 percent of the workforce working second shift, and during another part, he was among the estimated 3.5 percent working third shift.* A friend of mine’s husband is among the 2.9 percent on the rotating shifts which seems a hard schedule to live. He did work within the normal hours for one job, but for some reason, our life seems to have been lived together yet separately as we’ve done what needed to be done to pay the bills and raise our children.
We did not get up together, nor did we go to bed together. Even when he went to his current shift, which starts at 5 a.m., I did not change my schedule of getting up at 6:30 a.m. and going to bed by 11 p.m. Recently, however, I decided that it might strengthen our marriage if we kept the same hours so I began getting up at 4 a.m. with him. It has been an adjustment for me, let me tell you, because getting up early is different than staying up late, especially if one of our kids has to be picked up at school after 9 p.m. The Daylight Savings Time change didn’t help matters, but I persist in learning this new habit because I want to spend time with my husband.
So now, there are mornings I cook up some eggs for his breakfast. I ask about his plans for the day and give him a hug and kiss as he goes out the door and when he returns. At first, my days felt like I was having jet lag, and I was ready for a nap at any given time, but it is getting better. I haven’t jumped out into the chilly morning air yet. It’s more like I talk myself into getting out from under my snug covers, but I have found the quiet time before the girls get up to be a quality time. I have had productive times of writing or calming times of prayer and study. I have times where I haven’t gotten to what I had hoped to get to just as I had when my writing time was in the night. I reassure myself that this is normal. Whether I get my hour or so of writing time in the morning or in the evening doesn’t matter, as long as I get that time and it doesn’t interfere with family.
The morning routine with the kids is the same, but I am still figuring out the evening one, but I am certain that we’ll find the right groove soon. Others have been doing this as a norm so we can establish it as our new norm.
Married couples are supposed to spend time together so getting up together and retiring together seemed like one way to incorporate this time. According to an article from Focus on the Family, the recommendations of how much time couples should spend together range from eight to fifteen hours per week.** This was referring to talking and dating each other type activities so we were lacking some there. It’s the little things that add up to the big things that we feel are important. Talking and dating happen when you are together intentionally.
Because I value my man and I value my marriage, I will do what I can to make this new schedule work. What do you do to keep your marriage strong?
Source: United States Department of Labor, https://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2000/06/art3full.pdf *I said estimated since these statistics are from 2000, the most recent I could find, so they are likely to be somewhat different today in 2018.
Photo by Dennis Dalton Photography.