“Some people ask the secret of our long marriage. We take time to go to a restaurant two times a week. A little candlelight, dinner, soft music and dancing. She goes Tuesdays, I go Fridays.” –Henry Youngman
But in all seriousness, I see so many marriages where it’s closer to truth than to fiction. All week, the husband and wife go their separate ways to work and, if they have young children, to various kids’ activities in the evenings. On the weekend, they run errands and do chores. If they can spare the time, she may go shopping, while he goes golfing. One runs to the gym while the other watches the kids. They may even have different schedules for sleeping. Before you know it, you’re roommates negotiating the little free time you have. The connection between you can slowly slip away. You might even convince yourself that you’ve “fallen out of love.”
I don’t often quote advice from celebrities, but sometimes the advice is just simple enough to be helpful. Actor Colin Firth, who has been married to Italian director Livia Giuggioli for 15 years, was recently quoted regarding the secret to his happy marriage. He says a happy marriage is not too hard to attain when you set aside time for each other and treat one’s marriage like a “marathon.”
“We’re very committed on a daily basis to how we deal with our family lives. But the real secret is time—we have to make sure that we spend enough time together. Every relationship in life you’re going to have to take care of, there’s a marathon factor to it,” says Firth.
He added that despite all the tempting women one may encounter, it is important to remember none of them measure up to one’s own wife.
As I write this, I feel I’m being a bit hypocritical, because I haven’t even seen my husband for five days, and we frequently are separated due to work travel. But we do work hard to have time together whenever we can. Even when we’re both home, it is challenging with two young children to accomplish the daily “to-do” list of homework and activities, chores and work, but we make time to connect. Sometimes that means a 10-minute phone call across the country, sometimes a longer chat after the kids are in bed, sometimes a scheduled night out without the kids. When we are spending dedicated time together, we try not to focus on the kids or household agenda items. We just ask simple questions, like, “How was your day?” “What’s been on your mind?” or “What do you want to do this weekend?” If we don’t have time together, our relationship suffers.
If you’re going to plan a night out, do something fun, new or exciting. Don’t just sit in a dark theatre feeling disconnected yet again.
It can’t be bought, and it’s certainly a precious commodity, but our time is a crucial investment in our marriages. How much have you been spending lately?
Photo credit: ©Clark Duffy/PhotoXpress.com