Giving Up Good Things for the Best Things in Marriage

By Selena Frederick
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email
iStock/nd3000

Loving your spouse well might mean giving up certain activities for a season. Those will most likely be good things, but if you feel disconnected, it may be time to examine your weekly schedules.

wrap

   Listen to a broadcast about centering your marriage on Christ with Ryan and Selena Frederick.

It was late. My husband, Ryan, had just returned home from a meeting with our pastor and church leaders. This wasn’t a typical leadership meeting: This evening, Ryan was asking permission to cut back on the numerous hours he routinely volunteered each week leading worship and working in the youth department. I was tired but anxious to hear the results.

“How’d it go?” I asked.

“The pastor asked me, ‘How much time do you actually need with your wife?’ ”

My mind and heart were reeling. Surely our pastor wasn’t asking what I thought he was asking. “Wait … What did he say?”

Ryan went on, “After I explained to him that I felt like you and I needed a weekend or two off the schedule so we could spend more time together, he asked me, ‘How much time do you need with your wife?’ ”

Ryan sighed, the hurt and disappointment slowly crushing him.

In disbelief, I glanced over our weekly schedule. Church was our main priority. I couldn’t shake the war happening inside my head and heart. Aren’t we making the right decisions? Is it wrong for us to ask for more time for our marriage?

Recommitting to each other

We both loved each other, but emotional distance and lack of deep communication had crept in. I felt as if we never saw each other during a normal work week because Ryan was at church all the time. Intimacy was more physical rather than all-encompassing emotionally and spiritually. When we found time to go on a date, we would argue about what to do because we never had enough time together to get past the fighting.

The conversation after the leadership meeting began a painful season of learning to give up and say no to things — even good things — all in the name of marital health and unity. We were committed to our church, but God was far more concerned with our hearts and the health of our marriage than He was with the number of church volunteer hours we were racking up.

Although I thought Ryan and I were checking off a lot of good things on our list of the most important things in our lives, I discovered that good priorities aren’t good at all if they are in the wrong order. They’re toxic for your relationship with Jesus and with your spouse.

A few weeks prior to this difficult season in our life, Ryan had surprised me with airline tickets to Germany. Before I knew it we were off on a two-week trip to Europe.

During our travels, we realized how much our marriage had been put on the back burner. The conversation with our pastor had resulted from our coming home from this European adventure with fresh eyes for each other and a sweet conviction to make our marriage a top priority.

Learning to create margin

Part of loving your husband or wife well might mean giving up things on your weekly schedule for a season. Those things you’re giving up will most likely be good things (for example, leading worship at your church). It’s a bold step. But if one or both of you is feeling disconnected and alone in your marriage, it may be time to examine your weekly schedules.

How much time are you spending just being together? (Texting and talking on the phone don’t count.) I’m talking about unrushed, face-to-face time meant for communicating and enjoying each other’s friendship and company.

Ryan was able to get time off initially, but eventually the church staff asked for an all-or-nothing type of volunteer commitment that ended up being unhealthy for us.

Being overscheduled might be necessary for a season, with definitive beginning and end dates to the commitment. However, daily and weekly rhythms should include plenty of margin for your husband or wife. The amount of time that’s right for you will often depend on how your spouse feels most loved.

I feel the most loved when Ryan intentionally spends time with me. He earns even more points when he does something that I want to do and is enthusiastic about it. Ryan feels most loved through words of affirmation. If I take a few moments during the day to encourage him and affirm him, he feels loved and his bucket is full. Without margin in our days, encouraging him could feel like one more burden. Margin allows us to focus on the health of our marriage and gain a clear perspective.

Setting aside time for a date

One way you can create margin in your weekly schedule is to figure out a specific time and day of the week to go on a weekly date. This is good for your marriage, good for your souls and good for your kids to see you make each other a priority. Having a set date night gives both of you something to look forward to each week. There are endless ideas of what you can do, from trying a new restaurant to dining in and having the kiddos go to the grandparents’ house.

Write down things during the week that you want to talk to each other about on your date. Share the highlights (and maybe the low points) of your week.

Connecting emotionally is vital to marriage. Fill your dates with romance — sit next to each other, hold hands, kiss each other and be vulnerable and honest with each other.

Don’t wait for your marriage to be in a dire place before you start implementing new rhythms into your schedule. By creating margin you can have the space and time to love each other intentionally and deeply. You need time together for your marriage to grow and flourish. Giving up good things to focus on your marriage is one way to do this.

Selena Frederick is the co-author of Fierce Marriage: Radically pursuing each other in light of Christ’s relentless love.

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.

© 2019 Selena Frederick. All rights reserved. Originally published on FocusOnTheFamily.com.

Share:
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email

About the Author

Selena Frederick

Selena Frederick is the co-author of Fierce Marriage: Radically pursuing each other in light of Christ’s relentless love.

Thank you [field id="first_name"] for signing up to get the free downloads of the Marrying Well Guides. 

Click the image below to access your guide and learn about the counter-cultural, biblical concepts of intentionality, purity, community and Christian compatibility.

(For best results use IE 8 or higher, Firefox, Chrome or Safari)

To stay up-to-date with the latest from Boundless, sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter.


If you have any comments or questions about the information included in the Guide, please send them to [email protected]

Click here to return to Boundless

Focus on the Family

Thank you for submitting this form. You will hear from us soon. 

The Daily Citizen

The Daily Citizen from Focus on the Family exists to be your most trustworthy news source. Our team of analysts is devoted to giving you timely and relevant analysis of current events and cultural trends – all from a biblical worldview – so that you can be inspired and assured that the information you share with others comes from a reliable source.

Alive to Thrive is a biblical guide to preventing teen suicide. Anyone who interacts with teens can learn how to help prevent suicidal thinking through sound practical and clinical advice, and more importantly, biblical principles that will provide a young person with hope in Christ.

Bring Your Bible to School Day Logo Lockup with the Words Beneath

Every year on Bring Your Bible to School Day, students across the nation celebrate religious freedom and share God’s love with their friends. This event is designed to empower students to express their belief in the truth of God’s Word–and to do so in a respectful way that demonstrates the love of Christ.

Focus on the Family’s® Foster Care and Adoption program focuses on two main areas:

  • Wait No More events, which educate and empower families to help waiting kids in foster care

  • Post-placement resources for foster and adoptive families

Christian Counselors Network

Find Christian Counselors, Marriage & Family Therapists, Psychologists, Social Workers and Psychiatrists near you! Search by location, name or specialty to find professionals in Focus on the Family’s Christian Counselors Network who are eager to assist you.

Boundless is a Focus on the Family community for Christian young adults who want to pursue faith, relationships and adulthood with confidence and joy.

Through reviews, articles and discussions, Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live.

Have you been looking for a way to build your child’s faith in a fun and exciting way?
Adventures in Odyssey® audio dramas will do just that. Through original audio stories brought to life by actors who make you feel like part of the experience; these fictional, character-building dramas use storytelling to teach lasting truths.

Focus on the Family’s Hope Restored all-inclusive intensives offer marriage counseling for couples who are facing an extreme crisis in their marriage, and who may even feel they are headed for divorce.