Marriage: The Merging of Lives in Marriage
How Do Two Become One in Scheduling?
Our first fight was on the very first weekend home after our honeymoon. It was all about scheduling. I had made an assumption – foolish, single-minded thinking me – that Saturday morning was still my own. I hadn’t cleared my plans with my new bride. I went water-skiing with the boys on this our first day off together. Donalyn had assumed we’d be spending the day doing something together – just she and I. Her disappointment was huge.
So it began…the tense and confusing beginning of the merging of two lives.
Ongoing scheduling complexities continue. Just last Saturday, 37 years into our marriage, we still have a problem in getting it right. I decided I needed to go into work for a half day on the Saturday as I had gotten behind that week with a heavy load of crisis marital counseling. Donalyn thought that we’d be spending the whole day together. Though neither of us had confirmed anything, I headed out quite early that morning while she was still asleep. I was met with a rather icy phone call with her disappointment leaking out all over. Working extra hours wasn’t the problem; not talking about our combined lives and discussing reasonable expectations for the day was the issue.
The never-ending attempt at merging continues…
This joining of two lives in marriage is a gradual process that takes a ton of selflessness. Yes, 2 become 1, but which one is it? The combining of life schedules in a working marriage relationship takes practice and a lot of trial and error. As they say, the devil is in the details. One time, I actually drove away leaving Donalyn and the kids at church thinking they got a ride home with another family. Oops…arriving home to an empty house. Funny now; not so then.
If you don’t communicate well about the details of your schedules, your plans and the cooperation needed, the frustrations can be significant, the assumptions many, and the expectations – especially un-communicated – a killer!
You will need to be patient in the joining of your worlds. Some of our biggest fights have been over the smallest misunderstandings. Too often, my plans and desires win out over the joint plans. Wrong. Your life is NOT your own once you get married. Marriage is joint living – the full sharing of lives. Checking with each other is the new norm. And the greater the clarity and with the confirmation of details – sometimes even written down for those with a shorter memory – the better chance to have a seamless merger. The following principles will guide you toward a healthy integration of both your lives and your schedules.
Great Principles on Merging Two Lives and Schedules:
1. Talk through your current frustrations with your schedules and look for ways to compromise, accommodate and better connect each other’s worlds.
2. Be sure that your private and combined schedules have enough time to keep your marriage a priority. Find adequate time together before justifying more time alone. Use the Happy Camper Dating Guidelines to best assure ongoing relational closeness through reasonable fun time together.
3. Allow regular time to talk through the touch points of your schedules and activities. Divide responsibilities for chores, childcare and errands. When you are coming to an agreement on the times and activities that you will share, be sure to coordinate with clarity. Take an extra 30 seconds to repeat the decision so fewer assumptions and misunderstandings are left.
4. Redeem the time; it is your most precious commodity. Be intentional. Have a weekly planning meeting for 15-20 minutes every week to negotiate through the following week’s schedule.
5. Keeping each other fully aware of each other’s separate activities should be assumed. Each has a right to know the whereabouts, the associates and the activities of their spouse.
6. Make no commitments to outside people or activities without confirming first with your mate. Taking time to make joint decisions on couple or individual opportunities shows respect and equal voice in life. Very wise.
7. When confirming your times of return to your spouse, give a window of expectation regarding your return – i.e. “I should be home between 9 and 9:30 pm.”
8. When confirming a time of meeting with your spouse, agree on a specific time and then do your best to show love by keeping to it. Both of your schedules are equally important so don’t imply that your world is more important than theirs. Show respect.
9. Common courtesy requires if you are going to be late, you let the person know. Your spouse should receive the greatest courtesy and not the greatest presumptions. We should willingly keep our mates updated since our love for them is greater.
10. Be fair with your spouse if your plans change or you may be delayed or you have to cancel. Inform them as soon as possible.
11. Be patient with oversights – we all make mistakes – but be intolerant of making excuses. Keep each other posted on life developments and any pending changes to discussed plans.
12. Come to an agreement about being on time for activities and appointments. What does being late mean? How will you face it together? One spouse will naturally be more time conscious.
13. Be careful on creating a sense of distrust by frequent barrages of questions. Repeated scrutinizing comes across as controlling. Live at the crossroads of respect of privacy and respect of access.
14. Failing to give every detail is not “lying”. Watch over-reacting. Some spouses have a greater fear of abandonment and a greater need for a complete rundown of events and timing.
15. Be sure that both spouses have the same right to freedom and schedule control. Work schedules and child-care demands can affect discretionary time. Communicate often.
Finally, it is wise to regularly commit your life’s plans and marital schedule to the Lord in prayer together. He ultimately knows what is best for you. Take both your decisions and frustrations to Him. Let the following Scripture passages help shape your thinking.
Proverbs 16:3 – “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your plans.”
Proverbs 19:21 – “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”
Romans 8:28 – “We are assured and know that with God, being a partner in our labor, all things work together and are fitting into a plan for good to and for those who love God and are called according to His design and purpose.”
Philippians 2:3,4 – “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.”
Work together for the prioritizing of your marriage. Focus on the merging of two lives. Communicate more. Enjoy equal voice. Hear each other out with respect. Pray about the merger of your lives. If you do, you will likely create the permanent bond quicker than we will. Remember, you’ll never regret putting your marriage and family first.
© Dr. Dave Currie