It may seem odd to be reminded of New Years resolutions in August, but think about it – in the annual cycle of our lives the New Year is really starting now. In our district, school started Monday, fall sports are getting under way, the church choir comes back from its summer hiatus and bible study starts for adults along with religious ed programs for the kids. From here there is a flow of life that continues through the school year, winds down during the summer and restarts in August. Along with all of this starting up there is an increase in the level of activity in most households – especially when they include school-aged children. So we think this might be a good time to stop for a moment and think about the effect of all these activities on our marriage relationship and make some decisions that can help to keep it moving smoothly along in the face of higher demands from other sources.
Even though we are retired and our children are independent, this is still a time of renewed activity for us. During the winter and spring we were fairly busy with writing and presenting programs, but during the summer we slacked off on those things and took some time to do some needed work around the house and yard - new railing on the deck and some exterior painting. I got acclimated to sleeping later in the morning and spending some time just loafing during the day. We talked about the projects we want to do in the fall, but haven’t made much effort to get started on them. Two weeks ago we attended a conference of Catholic Family Life ministers. While there we talked to many people about the new programs and materials we are considering. Some of those projects evoked a high level of interest and that gave us some incentive to get started working on them this fall.
The next three weeks will be filled with family visits and events, but after that I know that I have to shape up my schedule in order to get some work done. My “New Year’s resolution” is to put a little more scheduled time in my life. I need to get up a little earlier and schedule some work hours most days. Fortunately, I foresee enough time in my days to work, exercise and have playtime for Rita and me. The danger is that no one will push me if I don’t follow through.
For many of you, schedules are much more demanding and much less in your control. The danger for you is that everything will get squeezed into your day, except time to be married. We would like to challenge you to “be married”, along with everything else happening in your lives. Realistically, you may not have even fifteen minutes a day to sit down with a drink or a cup of coffee and have a leisurely time to discuss your day and your life together. With that in mind, your challenge as you go into your busy fall schedule, is to find ways to “stay in touch” with each other when your schedule is busy. I recommend that you give some thought to literally “staying in touch”. We find that it makes a big difference when we make physical touching a serious part our lives. When we pass in the hallway we at least brush our arms against each other. Often we pause for a kiss. When Rita bends over to load the dishwasher, I can’t resist a little pat on the backside which usually leads to a playful exchange of words. At bedtime or when we are waking up (or both) we often take a minute of two to snuggle before going to sleep or getting out of bed. This may sound silly, but it makes a big difference. We urge you to try it.
This is the second year since I first went to school that my life is not directly connected to a school year. Throughout our marriage, one or both of us was beginning a new school year or getting the kids ready to go to school or back to school. I still think about something I could include in a lesson plan or a project I need to finish before school starts even though I’m not officially going back to school. Our grandchildren talk about what they’ve done this summer, getting school supplies or coming to visit before school starts. In reality, as Bob says, a new beginning starts again in late August.
I have enjoyed the leisure days of summer, seeing friends who are still involved in education, talking with our grandchildren who are home during the day and hearing their excitement about summer or doing nothing but read a book for a day or two. I’m ready for a different schedule as the fall days begin. I have a writing project I’ve wanted to begin and in some ways a new schedule will be needed to make that happen. Having spent so many years with a schedule, I look forward to that again. It will require the discipline I once had to get up although it won’t be at 5:30 a.m. as it was for so many years. I’m also looking forward to working on some writing projects both alone and with Bob. Whenever we work on writing projects, we seem to spend time together just sharing ideas and exploring possibilities. Even on the busiest days or the leisure days of summer we eat meals together and that will continue in the fall but beyond the sharing of ideas, we seem to maintain more contact with a schedule.
While I know our schedule is different from most of yours, what we all have in common is the need to find “couple time” or as Bob said, to be married, in addition to the needs of children, grandchildren, friends, housework, homework, exercise, or jobs, etc. As new schedules are made and events put on your calendar, consider putting time each week for the two of you. It doesn’t have to be hours but somehow if you’re like us just putting the other’s name on your calendar makes you think about them and is a constant reminder to appreciate the other and let them know it. I just might think about sending Bob an email as I used to do when I was working, even though I’m downstairs and he’s up, or stop to visit him in the den a few minutes when I take a break or am doing some household things. While it isn’t officially the New Year it is a new time. Just as I wish it for us I wish it for you-Happy New Year and happy times being married.
Please add a comment below. Tell us how you stay in touch or plan to do so during this busy fall season. Your idea may help another couple.