As I write this, Eric is at the other end of the house working at his day job. He is blessed to have the opportunity to work from home two days a week (which is also a blessing for me as I enjoy having him around the house). Later tonight, he will retire from his day job, eat a bite, and then jump into work on his current doctoral class which has been rigorous. At various times today, I have noticed evidence of what I call Eric’s Friday self. ~smile~ Eric’s Friday self emerges when he has been working hard all week and is (as they say from my neck of the woods) plum tuckered.
For years, I took offense to Eric’s Friday self (and still do at times) before I realized his occasional edginess or harshness seemed to be the result of an exhausted mind and body. He has an amazing ability to push through exhaustion and still produce awesome results. It amazes me how well he can counsel couples at the end of a long day on just a few hours sleep. He is a machine! But, even machines need maintenance and downtime. If they do not get it, disasters can happen.
Then, Saturday comes and, assuming he gets to sleep in, I get to spend time with Eric’s Saturday self! Eric’s Saturday self is loads of fun. He is sweet, funny, and playful and I am reminded of why I love him so much. It is amazing what sleep does for a person!
It is rare to find a marriage where each spouse is not concerned for the other in some area of life. For us, Eric worries about my laziness and diet. He sees how I am drawn to idleness and ice cream when I need to be working and eating healthy foods. For me, it is Eric’s lack of rest which has always burdened my heart. On one hand, I highly respect his work ethic and I am so proud of him! On the other, I see him go to bed in the wee hours of the morning and get up to work again just a few hours later. He means so much to me and I want him to be around for many more years.
Is getting enough rest one of your biggest struggles also? Does your significant other beg you to make more time for sleep and leisure?
More Questions to Consider for your Creed
Soon you and your significant other will begin working on your couple’s creed. Answering the following questions will help you with the creed-writing process and gain further clarity about yourself and your partner as it relates to rest. Compare your answers and enjoy a good discussion!
- How much sleep do I need each night to feel my best?
- How much sleep do I need simply to function the next day?
- How much sleep does my significant other need?
- Does my lifestyle allow me to get the sleep I need?
- If not, what needs to change?
- What activities or commitments can I cut from my life, even if just temporarily?
- Does my partner lead a life which is conducive to getting proper rest?
- What are my thoughts on the following quote: “You can get all the sleep you need when you’re dead.”?
- On a scale from 1-10, how seriously do I desire a spouse who will make resting a priority? (Please elaborate on your answer for your partner’s sake.)
- What signals do I give off which indicate that I am exhausted? (e.g., grumpy, silly, quiet, listless, forgetful, etc.)
- Do many of our arguments stem from one or both of us being tired?
- Given how much rest I need and how much rest my significant other needs, are our lifestyles compatible with each other? (e.g., Is she on-the-go twenty hours a day while I need nine hours of sleep per night, etc.)
What Does the Bible Say?
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30, ESV)
And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. (Genesis 2:2, ESV)
Six days you shall work, but on the seventh day you shall rest. In plowing time and in harvest you shall rest. (Exodus 34:21, ESV)
Even when we are busy and it seems like we cannot stop and rest, we need to stop and rest. God created us with a need to rest and we are better able to do His work when we are refreshed. Healing comes through rest.
Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. (Psalm 127:1-2, ESV)
In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. (Psalm 4:8, ESV)
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. (Psalm 23:1-3, ESV)
The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. (Mark 6:31, ESV)
If Jesus told his disciples to find solitude from people and rest, we can be sure He expects us to rest as well.
So many struggles in our lives come from a lack of balance. We prioritize one area highly and all but ignore other important matters (in my case, like eating vegetables and exercising). Though seemingly insignificant, especially to those who are younger and better able to function on little sleep, Eric and I have seen how much rest impacts the health of our relationship. Most of our squabbles have come as a result of a tired mind which leads to irrational and/or uncompassionate responses to each other. When I am tired, I am less in control of my tongue than when I am rested. I tend to raise my voice and show more disrespect when I am not alert and refreshed. When Eric is tired, he is more likely to be short and irritable, cutting me off in the middle of sentences. In those moments, I feel extremely unloved and unlovable.
Our arguments diminished significantly when we stopped attempting to discuss hot topics when we were tired. Friday evenings are almost always off the table unless there is an emergency. And, we also found late night conversations can erupt in seconds.
Public Service Announcement: Bring up potentially explosive topics earlier in the day, and if possible, warn each other beforehand. Being confronted out of the blue is like throwing ice water in someone’s face. Ease your partner into the discussion and reassure him or her along the way.
I need to talk to you about something after dinner. Please don’t freak out about it. It’s nothing Earth-shattering. I just want to discuss something which has been concerning me.
If you and your sweetheart have noticed several weariness-inspired fights breaking out lately, it is time to reevaluate your life. Ask some tough questions. Determine how much of the problem is related to over-exhaustion and how much is related to personality clashes or other factors.
We are not meant to push endlessly without rejuvenation. God did not create us that way. Our entire lives are affected when we do not achieve a proper work/rest balance. It is sobering to think that something as simple as prioritizing rest could be the difference between a happy courtship and losing your relationship.
Is a lack of rest causing you problems?
Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee. – Augustine of Hippo, Confessions
Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time. – John Lubbock, The Use Of Life
Work is a blessing. God has so arranged the world that work is necessary, and He gives us hands and strength to do it. The enjoyment of leisure would be nothing if we had only leisure. It is the joy of work well done that enables us to enjoy rest, just as it is the experiences of hunger and thirst that make food and drink such pleasures. – Elisabeth Elliot, Discipline: The Glad Surrender
The best of all medicines is resting and fasting. – Benjamin Franklin
Are you and your significant other getting enough rest?