My wife and I recently had to shed some commitments as other commitments increased in demand and priority. This is normal; and it is important and healthy to understand your boundaries—where your influence begins and ends. With three kids, a youth ministry, a full-time job, and other demands, we are finally learning how to change the world in ways other than spreading ourselves impossibly thin and being baffled by our limited reach.
Letting go of some responsibility when you’re over-committed is crucial. Eventually we learn to be strategic in where we commit ourselves.
What is not okay, however, is letting your family go by the wayside while other “opportunities” chip away at the enamel of your family integrity. There are consequences. We have all seen a movie where the super-qualified husband chases his dreams, ascending the corporate ladder and achieving mortal greatness while his family quietly decays in the background.
Why does Western culture idolize busyness? Pride. Oh, how important an asset you are to all the intricacies of corporate America when you have to “pencil in” time for your spouse. Way to go! “We all have to make sacrifices.” “It’s for them that you’re working so hard.” “It’s going to be worth it in the end,” we tell ourselves.
Let me politely rain on your parade: This parade was never about you. It’s about others. It’s about Jesus. It’s about projecting the beautiful love of God in real-time, high-definition life where others are wowed by a real demonstration of love that has intervened in human affairs, and wrecked us for eternity. If there’s going to be a parade, it should be us parading the power and love of God throughout culture and society, making His name great.
I know that I’m coming across strong. I don’t want you to miss this, though. As I said, there are real world consequences—in your family—if you get too busy for your marriage.
- You learn to “do without” one another. I knew a couple that worked so hard and long during the week that they had no couple identity. They had individual identity, which of course if important, but they denied the world the power of their companionship because they let everything else take precedence. Yes, in marriage, we are two whole, individual people with specific gifts and talents, but we are also the dynamo of husband and wife that loves God and radiates His glory as a living parable before a broken society!
- You don’t have patience for each other anymore. When you learn to do without one another, the presence of the other becomes an inconvenience when you finally are together. When the couple I referred to above retired, there was a new dynamic at play where one was constantly irked by the presence of the other, because they were so accustomed to their own routine.
- Someone else pays your spouse the attention he or she should be getting from you. He or she builds up a case in their hearts for emotional infidelity. They make compromises for flirtation, because they are desperately trying to fill a void that your absence leaves behind. Covenant does not allow for distractions. It does not permit you to pawn one another off to the highest bidder.
Here’s my challenge for your marriage: let’s break the busyness addiction. Declare a Sabbath for your family time and let’s take back family nights. Your children and your spouse will never be the same because of it!