Dory dissolved into tears as she watched Jack walk away. After only a few major arguments in their 12 years of marriage, they had just had their third disagreement in a few short weeks. What was going on? Dory didn’t have to look far for the answer: What was going on was that she had gone back to work.
Once her youngest was in kindergarten, Dory had been eager to return to part-time work. Her family needed the income, and she loved her new job. But Dory now realized that her work outside the home was stressing her marriage in ways she hadn’t anticipated.
Whether women have high-pressure jobs or work a few hours a week, marriage requires even more attention when both parents work for an income.
Here’s the good news: More attention doesn’t have to mean investing double the hours. But it does mean being intentional about understanding what matters most to our husbands.
Marriages thrive when we prioritize each other’s greatest needs. Dory knew that Jack most needed to feel she respected him and honored his priorities. So the next day, she asked which of her behaviors made him feel unappreciated. It took him a few days, but Dory was surprised by the simplicity of Jack’s list: She took too many work calls while she was with the kids; she was regularly late in completing home tasks she’d agreed to do; and she didn’t seem to desire him because she didn’t initiate intimacy as much. There were also adjustments that didn’t bother him: He was fine with doing most of the cooking and kitchen clean up. But those few items on his list truly mattered.
Committing to the small things
Today, Dory and Jack are happy again. Dory explains how she agreed to “work the window” — be efficient with her limited window of work hours. To accomplish this, she doesn’t take work calls after school. When her boss needs to ask work-related questions in the evenings, it’s been agreed that Dory can let those calls go to voice mail and respond via email to avoid the lure of unnecessary conversation. Also, she’s committed to doing the bills and laundry each Friday morning before going into the office at noon.
Every working couple will have different concerns and will need boundaries to ensure those concerns are honored. As working women endeavoring to prioritize marriage, we just may find that committing to the small things can help husbands feel our big commitment to them.
Shaunti Feldhahn is a social researcher, popular speaker and best-selling co-author of The Life Ready Woman.
Marriage can have its twists and turns, but the detours don’t have to lead you off course. The 12 essential elements outlined in the Crazy Little Thing Called Marriage are biblically based and chart the course for a romantic adventure that will last a lifetime.