Hal was going great guns with the snowblower. He’d arrived home from work, waved happily at his wife through the living room window, hauled
his machine out of the garage and set about clearing the
drifted-in driveway. As he blasted his way along the sidewalk, he remembered his neighbour had taken care of his
snow the last time he was out of town. So he cleared her
driveway too, whistling as he worked.
He was still humming softly as he put the machinery
away and clomped cheerfully into the house, anticipating
a nourishing meal and an equally contented companion.
But that’s not what happened. He was met instead with
a frosty silence and a cold supper sitting lonesome on
Hal was baffled and chagrined. How could these good
intentions have turned out so badly? How had Charlene
got a message that tools and neighbourhood activities
were more important than she was?
Most marriages have moments like those. When two
individuals wed, they bring their idiosyncrasies and their
expectations, their hormones and their histories into the
relationship. It takes time and attentiveness to work out
the nuances of life together, to be sensitive to the needs
and desires of each other. And a very common area of
contention has to do with how husbands and wives spend
Hal was learning the hard way that Charlene wants
to be at the top of his list when he returns home. She
had been expecting real time with him, and he’d simply
thrown her a cheerful wave. Rightly or wrongly, she felt
she was receiving leftovers – just like the cold and lonely
meal Hal now faced.
Jim has had similar experiences in his marriage, and there
are times when he is very conscious and conscientious
about making sure he and his wife Carol have quality face-to-face time together. She really likes that, and he really is
a devoted husband, which doesn’t mean they always see
eye to eye – not by a long shot.
A couple of years ago, the two of them spent a long
weekend driving over 2,000 km across three provinces –
and back again. Those long hours of travel afforded them
lots of opportunity to listen to CDs and engage in quality
Time Well Spent?
Loving couples can still be at odds about
spending time together.
conversation. It went swimmingly.
Once they got home, however, a difference of opinion
soon became apparent. As Jim saw it, the time together
had built a large surplus of hours dedicated to Carol he
could gradually draw from as he focused on a host of other
demands on his time. Carol thought otherwise. She still
needed the daily attention. It was not a happy conversation when Jim realized the van time was purely bonus. It
had no carryover value at home.
In another home Laurie sometimes wants John to
come and watch TV with her. She would like the two
of them to spend some undemanding moments relaxing
side by side. But unless the program really interests him,
John would rather be puttering at some project. As his
restlessness grows and he starts making going-elsewhere
noises, she begins to pout. “I just want to be with you.”
In his mind, being in the next room or anywhere in the
same house would serve just as well as sitting in front of
the screen. They are not of the same mind on this matter.
How can Hal, Jim and John begin to address these awkward (and typical) situations in their homes?
Actually, they are already well on the way if only because each of them truly desires a loving, companionable relationship with his wife. It troubles them when the
harmony of the home is threatened, and they’re willing
to work at making it better. That’s important, and not to
be taken for granted. All too many husbands don’t care
enough to even try.
A word from the Scriptures supplies wise counsel to
living in a godly relationship: “Do nothing out of selfish
ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others
above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but
each of you to the interests of the others” (Philippians
Giving frequent, undistracted attention to your spouse
can help avoid the leftover time phenomenon. This, along
with a little planning that lets her know you think about
her first, will make your times together more comfortable
and your ability to release each other to alternate activities
Daily attentiveness – including little rituals and hab-
its you can share – makes the idea of building a surplus
unnecessary. These small practices are worth the effort.
Nobody really wants to be lonely, especially when you
share a home with someone you love. FT
DOUg KOOP is a Winnipeg-based writer and
spiritual health specialist.
BlessedIs TheMan n BY DOUG KOOP