I am getting closer to publication of PLAY NICE in Your Sandbox at Home. I just have a few adjustments to make, but they are major and will take some time to finish. In the meantime, I thought I would share a chapter with you that I find I need to read again and again – just as a reminder. I wonder if you feel the same way?
Chapter P1: Whelmed? Surely You Can do Better—Can’t You?
“I’ve stopped trying to get ahead. That way, I can concentrate on trying to slow down the rate at which I am falling behind.”
I’m thinking of taking my life in a new direction with my ultimate goal to be whelmed. To be honest, I don’t know what whelmed is, but I know I don’t want too much or too little of it. Regarding a healthy marriage, being either overwhelmed or underwhelmed can pose problems.
The term “overwhelmed” probably doesn’t need much elaboration. I believe it is the scourge of our age—or at least one of them. I don’t know many people who are not stretched these days in far too many directions.
I called a friend to ask him to get involved in a project I was working on. After hearing the list of tasks he currently had on his plate, I was exhausted. I, of course, graciously withdrew my request.
This friend’s story is anything but unique. It is important to realize from time to time that your life may be out-of-control busy, and if that is the case, your marriage is bound to suffer. You simply won’t have the time or energy to give it the attention it deserves. I read a book several years ago by Dr. Richard Swenson called Margin. This is an excellent resource for getting a grip on over-commitments and on how to build in periods of respite into your busyness. I think I need to carve out some time to read it again.
Along those lines, may I suggest that you take the time to schedule activities and events which are important to the overall health of your marriage. We’ve all heard the expression “find time” to do something. If you have figured out a way to find time, would you please let me know? I’ve been looking for time for a long time.
To “take time” or “make time” seems far more realistic than to try to “find time.” Among the elements which might be worthy of your time are play times just for fun, the state-of-your-marriage conversations, parenting meetings, and even sex.
What did I just say? That’s right, many couples routinely schedule times for physical intimacy. They consider it important enough to make it a priority and something which should not get pushed to the side by other life demands. I’ve also heard that one gender in particular prefers some advance notice, while one just needs the other to show up. I’ll let you guess which gender might be which.
I can’t promise that proper scheduling and prioritizing will do away with all overwhelm in your life, but as my Jewish grandmother used to say, “That and some chicken soup couldn’t hurt.”
Regarding being underwhelmed in your marriage, you simply must take steps to prevent it from happening. I can’t tell you how many folks have come to me for marriage help telling me they have drifted apart. What I can tell you is that this is the likely result when couples stop focusing on their marriage and making it a priority in their lives.
There is nothing wrong with each partner having their own personal interests and pursuits in life—so long as these are not a threat to the marriage or causing undue hardship on your mate. But a couple who spend the majority of their time with each doing his or her own thing is likely a couple I will someday see for divorce mediation.
Chapter Challenge: Schedule time to discuss where you and your spouse fall on the overwhelmed–underwhelmed continuum. Make a plan to ensure you keep time for fun and other important components of a healthy marriage.
Should you have a marriage question or comment please send it to me at ronp@FCCMF.org. FCCMF stands for Four Corners Coalition for Marriage & Family, a 501-c-3 organization I co-founded in 2003 and which I presently serve as executive director. You can also call me at 505 327-7870.