How to Prioritize Your Relationship
It’s not about HAVING time
It’s about MAKING time
Keeping your marriage or relationship strong requires keeping your partner and your relationship at the top of your priorities. Sometimes, I feel I do better at this than others. Often my children or my work are at the forefront of my mind and to do list leaving my marriage…somewhere down the line.
This ebb and flow is normal in relationships, your spouse is not always going to come first. This is why it is so important to continuously make a concerted effort to evaluate your priorities and ensure your marriage remains a top priority, not just in words but in action. Below are three actions to evaluate your priorities and ensure your actions match your words.
“Action Expresses Priorities”
- List your top three priorities (the three things that are most important to you). It may be challenging to only name three things that are the most important to you but when our time and attention are divided into five or even ten things it is no wonder we feel spread so thin. We feel like we cannot quite tackle any one thing well. We may also feel guilty because no one thing is getting enough of our attention. So yes, you only get to name three. One additional challenge, family has to be divided into children and partner, accounting for two items not just one.
- Now get out your to do list. How many of the tasks on your to do list align with your priories? Let’s say your top three priorities are spouse, children, and self-care. If going to the doctor or grocery store is on your to do list these do not count as aligning with your priorities because these are passive ways you support your family, important but passive. Items on your to do list which would count need to be active ways you spend quality time with your spouse.
- Getting back on track. Under each priority list three action items. Using my three examples spouse: plan a date night, surprise spouse with his or her favorite dessert, discuss the book we are both reading; children: play together at the park, read stories at night before bed, discuss how their favorite and least favorite classes at school are going; self-care: run 4 days a week, get seven to eight hours of sleep at night, meditate each morning. These are just ideas. By no means are these the necessary action steps for aligning your to do list with your priorities but you now have an idea of what I mean by action items.
I have often considered what order should my priorities be in? What should be my number one top priority? This question is no longer as pressing for me. What is more important is that I keep my top three priorities above everything else. When work starts to take my focus off my husband by being on the computer during quality time, I stop recognize I am putting work before my relationship and turn off the computer. If a friend or something I have volunteered for begin to become a drain on my energy or time. I re-evaluate, ask myself if I have taken care of my children, spouse and myself first and what reasonable amount of time or energy do I have left for this lower priority. It is easy to say my spouse is a top priority. It is more difficult to put it into practice and keep your relationship a top priority. Do this exercise again every six months or anytime you begin to feel your relationship has fallen to the bottom of your to do list.
Michelle Puster M.Ed. | Licensed Professional Counselor
Helping disconnected couples grow closer
Couples & Marriage Counseling Katy, TX