Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Quality Time

My relationship with my wife has been missing something for a long time now, but I didn't know what it was - nor did I realize we were missing it. Neither did she. But we both felt something - something wrong. I began sensing an estrangement between us several months ago.
Let me set the landscape for you. I work a full-time job (requires me being away from home roughly 50 hours a week including travel time), I am working on an MDIV part-time (occupies most evenings and some weekend time), and I have other things to do each week too that take up time (paying the bills, mowing the yard) and the hours stack up. My wife works 2-3 days a week, attended a Saturday morning Bible study for a while, and does some things with friends and family even though I can't always go. We have a 9 month old son, whom we both love dearly. I usually get home around 6pm, and I spend a good hour entertaining him until his bedtime while Sarah gets a little breather from watching him all day. Then I study, she busies herself around the house, and sometime later we go to bed around the same time. That's pretty much every week.
We were irritated with each other often - not arguing or getting mad, just irritated. We hardly ever go out on "dates" anymore. The time we have spent together has been in front of the TV. I USED TO think this was good quality time together. It's not. It's time spent with the TV, at the same time as your spouse. It all adds up to the fact that we have slowly grown apart due to lack of real quality time spent together and we never even realized it. We were roommates raising a son.
I had been feeling this for a while, and I tried little things here and there to get closer to her or spend more time together in pieces, but nothing really worked and it didn't catch on as I had hoped. I still hadn't realized what the real problem was. And she wasn't ready yet. I began to pray about it - God, I don't know what needs to happen, but we both need to realize it before things can change - and they NEED TO.
I left my house yesterday morning for work, once again feeling like my wife was disgusted with me and not knowing why. I hate leaving the house like that. I prayed on the way to work again - something needs to change. My wife called me early in the afternoon to say she wanted to talk when I got home this evening. Uh oh. Usually means I've done something wrong.
Once Ross was asleep, we sat down to talk. She told me all about how she doesn't feel close to me anymore and that after a lot of thought she thinks it's because we don't spend any real quality time together anymore. She said she'd always heard about people who get divorced who say, 'we just grew apart' and thinking that was crap, but now she felt like that's where we were, and she didn't want it to lead any further down that path. I agreed. We finally had come to the same conclusion and both felt compelled to do something about it. We spent a lot more time talking and working out our weekly schedules so that at least for now, we are scheduling time together regularly throughout each week. I suggested (since I had just realized the fallacy of this) that our time together never involve TV. She agreed that this was a good idea. We are also going to start going out on dates every other weekend.
I can't tell you what a weight was lifted from both of our hearts last night as we talked and cried and worked it out together. I also realized that I needed to do a better job providing spiritual direction to my wife (and eventually my son), not only as the head of the family, but as someone who is in seminary and is gaining all this info. and not connecting it to her life. I am going to help her in her walk with God going forward too.
This is a very personal matter, but I felt compelled to share it because I fear many young couples, especially who have busy schedules or who are just starting to have kids may be in a similar situation and not yet know it. Last night we recommitted ourselves to this relationship and to actively working on it. It takes work and effort, and it takes QUALITY time - just any old time may not get the job done. It has to be quality, special, the two of you only, time. Don't be one of those couples who "just grew apart."


Anna said...

Thank you for being so honest. It enjoyed reading your insight and I'm sure it will help many couples.

Susan said...

It will never cease to shock me that couples against divorce still find themselves in situations like that, but it is encouraging to know that you are working together to get past it. Thanks for sharing.

Jeremy Keegan said...

Follow-up to my post:

I don't know if I said this or not, but for the record my wife and I both agreed that never during that time did we ever stop loving each other. Yet our relationship still deteriorated. I imagine if this had gone on longer, things would have gotten worse though. Neither of us want(ed) that but it could have happened.