A month and a half ago, I got a message from a friend who was newly married and in grad school. Life was busy, he told me, and asked how my husband and I managed our time when we were first married.
I gave him some sage having-been-married-for-three-years advice, which can be summarized as spend time with God and spend time with spouse. The truth was, I really wasn’t the best person to ask at the time. My husband was working full time and freelancing on the side, and we were smack dab in the middle of a trans-Pacific move.
Leading up to this decision, my husband and I had thought and prayed a lot about moving. Given our skills and passions, we felt that, not only would be good for our family to spend time in the area I had grown up in, but that there would also be unique gospel opportunities.
And so, for weeks I packed and cleaned, broke down in tears, watched my two-year-old toddler . . . and packed and cleaned some more. “Quiet time” with God was virtually non-existent. In the whirlwind of life, it was easy to forget why we were moving in the first place.
My husband and I got cranky at each other. I felt like I was doing more work than he was, and he thought the opposite. My toddler watched people come take away his bookshelves and furniture while his parents told him again and again, “I don’t have time to play right now.” No wonder he threw a few more tantrums than usual.
At one point, after exploding at the employees of a not-so-helpful network provider, we decided it was time for a coffee break. The toddler was at the grandparents’, and we escaped to a quiet corner of a coffee shop to re-connect.
As we talked over one by one the things that bothered or worried us, we realized that in the grand scheme of things, none of those things were that important. We could afford the small fee that came with not cancelling our internet properly. If we sold the car for less than we had hoped for, it still wouldn’t put much of a dent in our plans. If worst comes to worst, we could throw those extra bookshelves away instead of making the drive to the local second-hand store.
As my husband and I spent time processing our emotions together, we realized that God had already provided everything we needed. We had money in the bank (more than we had hoped for), we had a place to stay after the move (with family, rent-free), and we both had prospective jobs lined up (with people we really liked). Everything else was, ultimately, trivial.
We re-iterated the reasons we were making this move and the many instances of affirmation by trusted brothers and sisters in Christ. Both of us believed we were doing the right thing as a family. And if this move was for the sake of the family, it was silly to let the move get in the way of family.
After finishing our coffee, we prayed, asking God’s forgiveness for our negligence, thanking Him for His amazing providence, and asking Him for guidance as we moved forward.
It felt good to be on the same page again. My husband recognized and affirmed the work I was doing, and I did the same about the sacrifices he was making for us. We promised to hold each other accountable in terms of Bible-reading and prayer. And we decided that we would both consciously make time for undistracted play with our child, even if that time had to be shorter than one would like.
Setting aside time for God, people and coffee
Our coffee break didn’t necessarily accomplish anything on our “to-do list.” But it was so necessary and so good for us. Just like I told our newly-wed friend, even in the midst of life’s chaos, we need to make time for God, and make time for our spouses.
Ephesians 5:21 tells us to “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” It’s hard to submit when we are so caught up in our own ideas of what needs to get done that we don’t spend time with the other person. Making time even in the middle of a hectic schedule is sometimes a form of sacrifice, but one that often comes with its own reward.
The Bible also says, “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you’” (Hebrews 13:4-5).
I had been stressed over the move and all the things I thought we needed to get done. Not all of them had a monetary value, but most of them were things the world expected us to accomplish. But God says, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
Honoring our marriage took faith in that busy time. We had to trust that God would take care of us even if we didn’t finish everything on our to-do list, even if we made some drastic mistake or forgot something of utmost importance. We had to trust that God knew our human limitations, and that He would look out for us even as we took an hour here or two hours there to reconnect with our spouse, to serve each another, to see to our child’s emotional needs.
In the end, by God’s indescribable grace, we made the move. We’re still not entirely sure how everything worked out so well, except that God blessed us with incredible friends and families. And that He pushed us to take a blessed coffee break when we most needed it.