Java with Juli: Priorities in Marriage

Couple embracing, sitting on mat indoors, smiling
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Have you ever had a single comment change your view on an issue? This happened to me one afternoon in my counseling office.

A woman named Cindy was processing her broken marriage after 23 years with her husband. Out of the blue she pleaded, "Tell them, Juli! Tell the young women you teach, 'Never put your children before your husband!'"

She poured out her heart, re-evaluating 20 years of sleepovers, football games, youth group and cast parties. ... Twenty years of telling her husband, "There will be time for us later."

As we dive into all the wonderful activities of fall, I hope Cindy's warning will echo in our ears. We can engage in an endless number of fun, productive and even spiritual activities that ultimately take us away from the high calling of being a wife.

I'm right with you in this busy stage of life, where saying "yes" to my marriage will inevitably mean saying "no" to many other good things. I've had my share of fall sign-ups in which I've committed to a plethora of wonderful activities only to find in October that I've neglected time with my husband.

If you're determined to keep your marriage a priority, here are some practical steps toward making that happen this fall:

Create a mock calendar before you commit

Adding one little thing to your schedule may feel like nothing, but you just may find that you'll be gone every night of the week. Draft a prospective fall calendar of what an average week will look like. How many nights will you have dinner together as a family? How many Saturdays will you and your husband be driving kids in different directions? When will you make time to nurture your marriage?

Commit to a date night

This is basic marriage advice, but it works! When Mike and I let date night slide, irritation and unresolved conflict creep in. But when we're diligent to go on a regular date, we long for even more time together.

Stay focused on you and your family

If you look around and compare yourself to every other mom, you may commit to things based on pressure, not conviction.

King Solomon warned us in Song of Songs 2:15, "Take for us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards [of our love], for our vineyards are in blossom" (AMP, a paraphrase). As you plan your family's fall calendar, don't forget to protect the vineyard of your marriage.

Juli Slattery is the author of Finding the Hero in Your Husband.

Based on research and experience from Dr. Greg and Erin Smalley, Focus on the Family has created valid and reliable questions that evaluate the strength of your marriage. Take our free assessment now.

This article first appeared in the August/September 2011, issue of Focus on the Family's Thriving Family magazine and was originally titled "Is He Your Priority?" If you enjoyed this article, read more like it in Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. Get it delivered to your home by subscribing for a gift of any amount.

Copyright © 2011 by Dr. Juli Slattery. From the Focus on the Family website at

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