I’ve decided most people fall into two categories of eaters: early enjoyers or delayed delighters.
My husband Jared takes his meals in the first group. We’ll each make up our plates as we sit down for dinner and after giving thanks, Jared will start eating his favorite food from the available selection. Only after consuming that item will he move on to lesser choices, often leaving the least desirable vegetables or salad for the very end.
I, on the other hand, start off with those green beans to get them out of the way. I may jump back and forth between bites of main course and side dish, but one element remains consistent. I save my favourite item for last, even setting aside the choicest morsel as a remnant to savor, a grand finale.
I’ve never been so full I couldn’t eat that perfect last spoonful. But when I try to manage my life this same way, I often run out of time or energy before I get to the favoured things like pouring into my marriage.
Jared and I are in a particularly full season, with each month of this calendar year bringing a new trial or adventure. A pregnancy loss in January. Huge work advancements in February. A book launch in March, changes to my job in April, and new family goals for life with our two year old in May—the list goes on. Of course, we can’t forget the regular everyday tasks like laundry and errands, meal plans, friendships, meetings, and ministry. As I reflect on these past months, my “delayed delight” tendencies show up in how I manage not just my dinner plate, but other areas of my life as well.
- I’ll attack checklists all day long until I collapse into the evening without enough energy, brain space, or excitement to spend one-on-one time with my husband.
- I push off aspects of self-care, hoping I’ll get to them at some undetermined point in the future.
- When we finally have time to talk, we struggle to make it past the lima beans of to-do lists and schedule checks so we’re able to connect relationally.
My eating plan works great for savoring a final bite of food, but I’ve learned my life can’t run that way. Marriage is too important to postpone enjoyment or intentional investment until everything else is taken care of. So here are five ways I’ve found to delight in my relationship in the midst of a busy season.
- Make time for self-care in healthy, balanced ways. Plan breaks with time to think or rest, and find replenishment through doing things you enjoy. Work out. Meet up with friends. Prioritize showering—I’m looking at you fellow moms, the struggle and temptation to sacrifice daily self-care is real.
- Give your marriage the good stuff, not just the leftovers. Reserve energy for one another. Set yourselves up for success by carving out time for a consistent date night. Foster your relationship throughout the day through small things like texts, notes, acts of consideration, or lunch plans. Your relationship doesn’t have to wait until everything else is handled. (nor should it!)
- Sometimes, the lima beans can wait until tomorrow. Some days I have to choose between prioritizing items on my task list or investing in my husband. I’m not going to leave filet mignon on the plate so I can finish the salad. Yes, there are days I don’t finish the laundry, or a few emails don’t get out as quickly as I’d like, but I never regret putting our relationship first.
- Have fun together. Sometimes the best thing for a marriage partnership is a break from conversations about carpool and work schedules. Find something lighthearted you can both enjoy—whether it’s a favorite restaurant, a new TV show to binge watch, or day-dreaming together instead of hashing out the details of the next project.
- Prioritize your relationship along the way and still set aside a “favorite bite.” What small morsel can you intentionally reserve for your relationship in the next 24 hours? Guard fifteen minutes of down time for a great conversation on the back porch before calling it a night. Or take note of a story or encouragement you want to share just with your other half. Set aside a few moments each day to sit and savour together.
Whether our feasting habits peg us as early enjoyers or delayed delighters, the enjoyment we find in our marriages doesn’t ever have to stop. And it’s sure not worth putting off any longer.