By Dennis and Thammie Sy
Q: My husband and I are very busy people. This is not counting our daily household activities, raising kids, paying the bills, and more! How can we make time for each other?
A: Dennis: This is a typical scenario among married couples and families today. We live in a fast-paced world. We celebrate speed, and we make goals and self-imposed deadlines to make ourselves productive and fruitful. With this change, we also pass on the pressure to our kids. The endless errands, the school and extracurricular activities, meetings, and deadlines make us wonder…is there more to life than this?
In the past two years, Thammie and I have consciously slowed down a bit to enjoy moments as a couple and as a family. It was not an easy thing to do. In fact, we had some sort of speed withdrawal because of how fast-paced and crazy our lives were when we said yes to almost every opportunity that came our way. It didn’t help that both of us are achievers and grew up in a family where achievement is a goal.
In light of this realization, we have decided to do things differently in the past few years. We are still a work in progress, but we have seen drastic improvements in our lives, our stress level, and our relationships. Here are three guiding principles that have helped us:
1. Walk slowly.
During the Christmas break, I was reading the book Soul Keeping, and there was a quote there that sums up our rally cry as a couple this year – “ruthlessly eliminate hurry in your life.”
When we don’t learn how to slow down and pace ourselves, we bypass many essential details of our lives. It’s like walking. When we walk slowly, we tend to see things we haven’t noticed that were there before. When everything is fast-paced, we skip divine moments, significant relationship building times, and unhurried meaningful conversations.
Have you noticed how we Filipinos take time to meet people? When we say goodbye after the party, we find ourselves standing for an hour still talking with our friends. Those are the moments that make relationships extra special. Concerning marriage, we must apply the same principle. Eliminate hurry in our lives and get to know our spouse better. Take a week off in a year to go somewhere with the person you chose to love for better or for worse. Take a day off in a week to go on date nights to slow down and just enjoy each other’s company.
2. Walk daily.
Find meaning in the daily things you do as a family. One way we are building a strong relationship is having dinner together. For some, this has been a missing practice because of the busyness of life, yet it is something that we all must fight for. At the dinner table, we get to talk about the beautiful things that have happened during the day. When we create a healthy culture of positive conversations happening during dinner time, we find our kids more unguarded with their thoughts, thus creating meaningful conversations.
We have also leveraged on sleeping time by tucking our kids to bed with a read-aloud and cuddle time. But to make this happen, we had to eliminate certain practices that we have developed in the past like always checking on our social media feed or having our phones in our hands that notify us of every incoming email, social media likes and other attention-grabbing moments that steal us away from meaningful relationships.
3. Walk closely.
It’s interesting to observe people walk. Even with untrained eyes, you could spot couples who are newly married, couples who are happily married and couples who are fighting. The space between couples walking together speaks volumes of their closeness or intimacy level in many ways.
Walking closely together requires the consistent affirmation of love from each other. I am thankful to have a spouse who is dedicated to working out our marriage to make it stronger and closer.
Again, the changing of pace, slowing things down, the praying together or doing things together help build the closeness of the couple. The intentional action of walking together as a family has done great wonders for us. Happy walking, everyone!
About the writer: Dennis is a the senior pastor of Victory Greenhills and is a best-selling author of three books. Thammie is a homeschooling mom and a certified childbirth educator and labor coach. They have been married for thirteen years and have four kids.