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Your Time-Starved MarriageHow to Stay Connected at the Speed of Life
By Les Parrott Leslie Parrott
ZondervanCopyright © 2006 Les & Leslie Parrott
All right reserved.
Chapter Oneanybody have the time?
Time isn't a commodity, something you pass around like cake. Time is the substance of life. Antoinette Bosco
Time may not be a commodity, but it is every couple's most valuable resource. Whatever financial or material resources you have stockpiled, they don't hold a candle to time. And if you are burning your proverbial candle at both ends, you know exactly what we mean.
In these hectic, hurry-up, stressful times, every couple we know - including ourselves - is rushing around to get more done in less time. Ironically, that's exactly what we end up with: less time. So we jump back onto the treadmill for fear of losing ground.
However, in the rat race to get ahead, or just to keep up, we too often neglect what makes life worth living: our relationships - especially our marriage. Life in the fast lane inevitably means less time with the one you love. Where does time go? We try to make it, save it, seize it, buy it, and borrow it. We even try to "steal" it. And yet time continues to elude us.
Traveling at the Speed of Life
After resolving communication meltdowns, most couples report that finding time together is their top relational need. And yet there is precious little written about finding time for each other. When we decided to explore this subject for our own relationship, we couldn't find a single book on the topic. Not one.
We found plenty of books for couples on communication, a plethora of resources on sex, and an overabundance on money management. But not a peep of help on how couples can better manage their time together. Stephan Rechtschaffen, author of Timeshifting, must have been right when he said, "We think much more about the use of our money, which is renewable, than we do about the use of our time, which is irreplaceable."
Strange, isn't it? The moments we miss together as a couple are gone forever. Irreplaceable. And yet, until now, there has not been a single book for couples on how to better manage this priceless resource. That's what compelled us to write this book. As a married couple, we are determined to take back the time we've been missing together and maximize the moments we have. Since you're reading this book, we know you probably feel the same way.
In fact, we urge you, right now, to consider what your life together would look like if time was on your side - if you managed your time more than it managed you. Be as concrete as you can but don't talk about how your schedules might change. That typically turns into a gripe session. Instead, focus on what the emotional and relational consequences would be for each of you if you were to slay the busyness monster and have the kind of time together you long for. In other words, how will you know when you are maximizing your moments together?
Mario and Melissa, living in the fast lane and dangerously close to a collision, came to see us for counseling. "We feel like strangers," they told us. "We share the same address and sleep in the same bed, but our relationship has become nothing more than a pit stop with a dried-up fuel pump."
Mario and Melissa were running on empty, and they knew it. The consequence? On the one hand, Melissa felt isolated and alone and would often say, "I feel like I'm on my own. Mario gets impatient and short with me these days, and it makes me withdraw."
Mario, on the other hand, felt burdened and sometimes nagged. He'd tell us, "Melissa doesn't understand the pressure I'm under at work, and so I've quit talking about it."
They squabbled for a while about balancing child care while working, and they whined and complained about not having enough time. But before the conversation escalated, we intervened by asking the question, "How will you know when you are maximizing your moments together?" The room fell silent. We handed each of them a pencil and paper and asked them to write their answer.
"I don't need to write it," Mario said as he set the paper aside. "I already have the answer: We'll be maximizing our moments together when we both feel understood and like we're on each other's team."
Melissa agreed. "That's right ... like we used to be before life got so busy."
We spent the next few minutes making their answer more concrete. We challenged them to identify specific times when they last felt this way. We talked about how and when these times happened. They both agreed the experience had to do with feeling fully present and invested in each other. They didn't want to feel judged or lay blame. They wanted to play tennis together again, laugh more, and enjoy each other's company.
The very process of discussing the positive outcome of maximizing their time seemed to make it more within reach. So why don't you take a moment, right now, to do the same. Get concrete about what your life together would be like if you were maximizing your moments. This will ensure that you get the most out of this book. The more specific you can be, the better. And consider your answer a work in progress. You'll fine-tune it as we move through the next few chapters.
Don't Be Scared
That being said, we want to clear up any potential for unnecessary anxiety or misunderstanding right at the start. This is not a book about being more productive - it's a book about being more connected. And it's not a book about going back in time to an idealized, preindustrial era where a slower pace romantically resolved all ills for couples. This is a book about real life in the real world. It's written by a busy couple with two little kids, by frequent flyers who speed-dial our cell phones, instant message, drive in the express lane, and juggle schedules. In other words, if you have an unspoken fear that we are going to ask you to do something radical and shortchange your productivity in the process ... and then make you feel guilty if you don't, you can relax. We just want to help you be more connected with each other as you're traveling at the speed of life.
Excerpted from Your Time-Starved Marriage by Les Parrott Leslie Parrott Copyright © 2006 by Les & Leslie Parrott. Excerpted by permission.
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