When spouses find themselves fighting constantly or struggling with the feeling that they are being neglected, one of the first tools they often think of turning to is communication. They try and talk out the issues that are causing problems. This is a good first response and can often take care of many of the issues, but sometimes other tools are needed to solve certain problems. A spouse who spends too much time playing with their phone and not enough focusing on their family, for example, might do well with an app that only allows them so much screen time.
Sometimes the tools needed to help a couple solve their issues are specific to the problems with which they are struggling. Other times, however, the tools needed to help a couple resolve issues are more general. It could even be something as simple as a calendar. It may seem odd, but a calendar or a schedule may be exactly what a struggling marriage needs. Once the couple has identified why and how they have begun to grow distant or if they continue fighting, a mutually agreed upon schedule might be the balm needed to help the spouses get their relationship back on track. Here are seven ways a schedule can save your marriage.
Some people are more flexible than others when it comes to altering their plans. Even the most flexible and spontaneous people, however, have a limit when it comes to constantly overhauling their plans. Forever having to shift plans around because one spouse made plans without consulting the other can be enough to drive anyone to distraction. Frankly, even if both spouses agreed to the plan, it can be frustrating for everyone if one person forgets about what is planned for when on a regular basis. A shared schedule can help avoid these problems. Both spouses will have easy access to their shared schedule, so if they have to make plans without consulting the other person, such as if they need to schedule a parent-teacher conference but the other spouse is not answering the phone, they will be able to avoid double booking the family. A schedule also avoids the conflicts that can arise when one person forgets about the plans made previously and is expecting to have a lazy day at home while the other spouse is wondering why they are the only one ready to go when they have to leave in 10 minutes to make it to the luncheon on time.
Guarantees Some Time Together
When schedules get busy, leisure time is the first thing to be tossed aside. In the short term, this makes sense. Completing preparations for an important presentation or finishing packing before a move are more essential actions than sitting down with a glass of wine and a movie. When spouses put off date nights and time to be purely with each other for a few days or even weeks due to external circumstances, there is not a serious problem. The issue is that many spouses get used to living in such a way and do not revive traditions that gave them time to themselves. A schedule, however, allows spouses to build special time together into a day or week. For some couples, planning to spend 30 minutes alone together after the children go to sleep might be exactly what a stumbling marriage needs. Others might work different enough hours that scheduling serious time together every day is difficult, but they could put Saturday date night on the calendar to ensure that they have time to focus on their own relationship with each other each week instead of letting that time get lost to running errands or herding children to and from activities. Since they know the time is scheduled, they can adjust accordingly by planning to hire a sitter on Saturday evening.
Help With Sleeping Issues
No one is terribly friendly when they are short on sleep, and many married couples struggle with either keeping their significant other awake or waking their spouse by accident during the night. Sometimes spouses keep each other awake because one person snores, kicks or talks in their sleep. Other times, they wake each other when they slide into or out of bed. This is often a problem when one person is a morning person and the other is a night owl. The morning person’s alarm or natural wake time disturbs the night owl far too early in the morning for them to feel well rested. The night owl, on the other hand, wakes the morning person when they slide into bed late at night. Depending on how attached each person is to their sleeping schedule, the best bet is sometimes for married couples to simply sleep in different beds or rooms so that they are not constantly disturbing their spouse’s slumber. Other times, a schedule can be what the couple needs. If one person is wired after dinner, planning to eat earlier might help both spouses feel sleepy at the same time. On the other hand, deciding on a specific time to turn off TV’s or computers can help avoid the lights or sounds of electronics from waking whoever goes to bed early. A schedule might also allow the couple to find a compromise sleep-wake schedule that leaves both people feeling happy and rested in the morning.
Gives Everyone Some Me-Time
No matter how much someone loves their spouse, they usually want at least a little time to themselves every now and then. Whether a person wants to be able to sit with a cup of tea and enjoy a few minutes of silence or to be able to turn up music or a TV show’s volume so high the windows shake without disturbing other family members, everyone has something that they occasionally want to do by themselves. A family schedule allows both spouses to know when they are going to have the house to themselves. As such, they can plan their own commitments so that they are able to take advantage of that little bit of time for themselves. This can allow each person to relax, unwind and recharge themselves. It can also give each spouse a time when they can blow off steam if the couple has been arguing.
Avoid Little Issues Piling Up
One of the biggest problems any relationship can have is when little irritations pile up to form serious issues. Most people are aware that it is better to talk through such things the first time there is a problem rather than allow disagreements or slights to fester into painful hurts. That said, it can sometimes be difficult to sit down with a spouse and have a serious conversation when both parties are running around like chickens with their heads’ cut off or stuck herding cats as they try to get their children to and from their various events. A schedule can make it so that the couple has time to talk thought any issues they have encountered. This could be done during previously scheduled time that is meant for just the spouses to focus on their relationship or the couple could put a special event on the calendar that is dedicated solely to dealing with an issue that has cropped up recently.
Make Time For Hobbies
For some reason it seems like the things that people claim they want to do the most or that give them the most pleasure are constantly put on the backburner. The old car that someone swears they cannot wait to tune up sits idly in the garage. Sketchbooks and journals gather dust. The coupons for a cooking class are forgotten in a drawer. The SCUBA certification class that one of them has always longed to take is constantly put off until the next month. Instead, people feel busy all the time and then collapse in front of the TV or computer at night to watch mediocre shows rather than working on things that truly give them pleasure. A schedule can allow a couple to fit their hobbies back into their lives. It helps to insure that one person does not make plans during the times that a class takes place and allows both people to build some time for their interests into their busy lives.
Straightens Out Priorities
There is only so much time in the day. That is an unfortunate fact of which most people are acutely aware. This means that only so many things can be put on a mutual calendar. As such, both spouses are forced to evaluate what is important. A friend’s wedding is obviously an important event that cannot be moved. As such, both spouses have to decide what would be shifted or skipped in order for the two of them to be able to attend. On the flip side, it really does not matter all that much if the couple has date night on Friday or Saturday, but a cooking class one person has been dying to attend might only be available on Fridays. So, date night is moved to Saturday. This, however, might require someone to skip meeting their friends for a drink. Calendars and schedules allow couples to truly evaluate their priorities and do any necessary discussing and compromising about attending events before it is an urgent issue.
It may not be the most exciting tool or the sexiest way to do things, but a mutually agreed upon schedule between spouses may be what a marriage needs the most. A schedule will allow them both to better make time for each other, for themselves and for occasions to deal with any issues that may crop up between the two of them. As long as they are sure to remember that life will not always fit into their schedules perfectly and that they will have to retain some flexibility. That does not mean that they should throw out their schedule entirely if something sudden arises, but they should not adhere to it so rigidly that they cannot react to the inevitable curveballs life will throw their way. No one wins when that happens.