“Just a few more hours at the office and I’ll be home. I’m sorry I won’t be able to tuck the kids in again tonight, but I am almost done with this project; and, if my boss likes it, I will be sure to get that promotion! Think of all the extra cash we’ll have! Living the dream, Baby!”
“I know we are going to miss dinner again tonight, but the kids have soccer practice and ballet practice tonight. Tomorrow night, we have a meeting at their school, and Friday night we are hosting a dinner for the college group. Maybe someday we’ll all get to share a meal together again….”
“I hate to cancel our date again, but I think I need just a few more hours to study. I don’t want to just pass this test. I want to crush it!”
“Sorry that it’s such short notice, but my buddy is in town this week and he was hoping I could go play pool with him and the guys tonight. I’ll make it up to you. I promise!”
When we reach adulthood, we are met with a myriad of choices and each day we make many choices: what to wear, what to eat for breakfast, which route to take to work, whether or not to have that second cup of coffee, to work on e-mails first or return calls, to have beef or chicken (or vegetables) for dinner, and the list goes on and on.
The choices we make reflect our desires, our character, and our priorities. Eric often says, “You do want you want.” Meaning… our actions reflect our highest priority. If he and I have plans, but I cancel because someone needs my help, it tells him that making this other person happy is more important to me than keeping my plans with him. If a friend was stranded on the side of the road, the higher priority should be rescuing him or her; however, if a friend simply wants last minute help on a project, prioritizing her over Eric could hurt him and harm our connection. In the same way, if he ditched plans with me to go help a buddy move a couch or something, I would be hurt as well – especially if it happened often.
Your Actions Reflect Your Highest Priority
As you transition from dating to engagement to marriage, remember that what you choose to do with your time speaks volumes about your priorities. You can tell you sweetie a thousand times that she is more important to you than anything else in the world, but if you are constantly neglecting her for other ventures (even if you tell her you are doing it for the good of the family), she will still feel second best (or lower) in your life. And ladies, if you tell your husband he is your best friend, but you choose to spend the majority of your free time with your family or girlfriends, he is going to feel second fiddle (or lower) to your social circle.
In many ways, talk is cheap. We love (some more than others) to hear loving words from our sweeties, but we want to see those words backed up as well. Otherwise, we stop trusting those words. In your heart of hearts, you may consider your sweetie your closest human connection; however, if you don’t show it, he or she won’t feel it, and eventually, won’t believe it.
Poor Priorities and the Break Down of Connections
Unlike selfishness and pride, poor priorities can be easily disguised. “I’m ministering to others.” “I’m helping the less fortunate.” “I’m expanding our children’s horizons.” “I’m earning more money to provide for my family.” “I’m nourishing my friendships.” “I’m trying to make a better life for us.”
Our priorities can seem to be in perfect order, but when we analyze them, we often find something in our relationship wanting.
“Look at all the people we’re helping! Wait, we haven’t been on a date in three weeks.”
“Look at how much our kids are learning in their extracurricular activities! Wait, we haven’t all been together for a family fun day in ages.”
“Look at all the money we made this month. Wait, we haven’t spent any time reaching out to other couples.”
Because poor priorities can sneak in, we have to frequently consider our choices. “Is this the best use of my time? What is lacking in my life because of this decision? At the end of my life, will I be glad I spent my time this way?” And, sometimes the answers are not clear. Is staying late at work a few nights to almost ensure a promotion a bad decision? In the scheme of life, it probably is not. However, a lifestyle of staying late at the office will negatively affect you and your future family. Is cancelling a date to spend time with your friend from out of town going to completely kill your and your sweetie’s connection? Hopefully not. But, if you cancel many dates, you can be assured that your connection will weaken or die.
What we choose to do with our time shines a spotlight on what is important to us!
When Eric and I got married, we were in the beginning stages of graduate school. We thought going through the graduate counseling program together would bring us closer. It did not. ~smile~ In fact, it gave us many reasons to argue. We were studying to counsel couples together and we were having many classic newlywed fights ourselves.
What we failed to do, and sincerely wish we could change, is to establish positive habits, healthy boundaries, and good priorities in the first three months of our marriage. We discovered that a couple sets the tone for its marriage early. If you begin your life together by sitting down and discussing your priorities, you will save yourself from struggling in changing them later. While your canvas is still blank, intentionally decide what you will paint together.
As you prioritize your life with your future spouse, consider these priority questions:
- Does this priority glorify God?
- Will I be glad I prioritized this in 10, 20, or 30 years?
- Who will get the short end of the stick if I prioritize this activity? Am I okay with that?
Have you and your sweetie evaluated your priorities?