What Is Your Busy Schedule Doing to Your Marriage?

Illustration of a mother with three children hanging off of her and two perched on the back of her neck. She is hurrying and three clocks reflecting various hours of the day float around her.
Adam Larkum

I was always running "just a few minutes behind" (meaning I was always late) and arriving in a bit of a fluff. That was during my single years, and then wouldn't you know it, I married a man who had never been late to a thing in his life.

My late tendencies were caused by my overly busy schedule and by my inability to say no when asked to add to my busyness. And then my husband, Mark, and I had children — five sons to be exact. My tardiness was multiplied times five because I now had five more schedules to juggle.

One day I arrived very late to a meeting Mark and I were scheduled to attend. Apparently my list of tasks was too long, and I misjudged what I could accomplish before the meeting.

As I walked through the door, I could see Mark was upset. He looked at me and said, "You know, Alli, being late isn't cute. It's a lack of respect for other people and their time. It's like saying you are more important than them and your to-do list is more important than theirs."

Whoa. I hadn't realized that my tardiness was telling my husband that I didn't respect him. That's when I recognized that the schedule I'd allowed to take over my family life was wreaking havoc on my marriage.

Mark and I rarely had time for just the two of us. We were always coming and going in different directions. And because we weren't connecting regularly, the tiniest little argument seemed to blow up into a major battle between us.

I knew I had to refocus my priorities, so I made a goal to break the busyness in my life and the life of my family. And I did it with two simple steps.

Step one: I made a stop-doing list.

I was doing a lot of things, such as agreeing to every volunteer request that came my way and signing up my kids for all kinds of extracurricular activities. I was trying to be supermom at the expense of being a good wife.

I knew there was a lot I had to stop doing, so I made a "stop-doing list." Then I realized that my kids' busy schedule was also a huge contributing factor to the lack of focus on my marriage, so I made a stop-doing list for them, too.

To make my stop-doing list, I asked myself two questions: What is sucking the life out of me right now? Does this activity help or hurt my family?

The answers to these two questions required that I look at life in a very honest way. In answering truthfully and then making the difficult but necessary changes, I refocused on my marriage. You, too, can refocus.

Step two: I gave myself permission to say no.

I can't remember how many times I've said yes to things I knew I didn't want to do, I didn't have time to do, and I knew would add stress to my life and my marriage.

I've had to learn to say no so we can say yes to a better, less busy life. The change in my schedule ultimately allowed a change in my attitude toward my husband. My new motto became "Better life, better wife!"

When I finally managed to get rid of the unnecessary busyness in my life, I was able to add in other things such as exercising, cooking healthier meals and spending unhurried time with God. (Trust me, these things make you a better wife.) I also had the time to be intentional about my relationship with my husband.

Your husband deserves the best you, and the best you doesn't come with a crazy busy schedule. Consider breaking the busyness in your own life before the busyness breaks you.

Alli Worthington is a business coach, the executive director of Propel Women and the author of Breaking Busy.

How strong is your marriage? Find out today with the Focus on Marriage Assessment. This reliable assessment is based on the research and experience of Focus on the Family's marriage experts Dr. Greg and Erin Smalley. Take this free assessment now. 

This article first appeared in the February/March 2017 issue of Focus on the Family magazine and was originally titled "Break Busy ... Before It Breaks You." If you enjoyed this article, read more like it in Focus on the Family's marriage and parenting magazine. Get this publication delivered to your home by subscribing to it for a gift of any amount.
© 2017 by Alli Worthington. Used by permission.

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