Becoming and remaining an effective classical Christian educator requires that we also live well outside of school. For many of us, that means being a good spouse. In a previous post (Solitary Community), I considered the benefits of solitude. In this post I want to answer the question: How can solitude aid and strengthen my marriage?
I do not know about you, but I already find myself struggling for quality time with my wife as it is. So how could choosing to be away from my wife when I have time to give her help my marriage?
In an age with so many distractions and responsibilities, much of our time to think can easily be taken away by a host of activities, leaving us in relationships that we deeply care about with no effort to think about the other person. I contend that if we do not take the time to think about our spouses, our marriages suffer greatly. A spouse that never stops doing and never takes the time to refocus rarely has much to offer the other. A very basic function of a healthy relationship is that both individuals think for and about one another. Thinking about what one’s spouse needs and wants is integral to the health of this relationship.
I remember my marriage before kids and big boy jobs. We had so much free time to invest in each other, and we had more time for thought and reflection. As I grow older, this time becomes more sparse and therefore I realize more acutely a need in myself to make the most of the time given to these actions.
Today, I want to give you three ways in which you should use your time of solitude to think about your marriage in hopes that it might strengthen this amazing gift we have been given.
- Planning – This is such a simple concept, but so important. I have recently begun to take some time to plan a month at a time date calendar, thinking through some creative and fun ideas for us to spend quality time together throughout the chaotic month. This is a small investment of time away from her but produces huge dividends in our marriage for weeks at a time. This is just a small example of the many ways that we can take the time to plan beneficial things for our families.
- Evaluation – “The unexamined life is not worth living,” Socrates once said. I think this can ring true for our marriages as well. In our time alone, it is worthwhile to begin to assess where things are, asking simple questions about how we are treating our spouses and areas that we might need to hone in on for growth or repair.
- Reminders – A marriage counselor once told me that he created a running list of all the things that he loved about his wife and kept it in his office drawer. When things in the marriage became rough, he would take the time to pull the list out and read through it, reminding him of all the reasons why he loved her. Life moves so fast, and it is a great value in valleys or peaks of our relationships to be reminded of these things.
I think we all know that these things can greatly contribute to helping our marriages, we just don’t take the time to think about them and implement them. I hope after reading this that you might take seriously the act of solitude in hopes of benefitting your marriage.
“But I don’t have the time,” you say. How can I justify a time of solitude when we spend so little time together already? Think of small spaces in your schedule that you might take the time to practice these thoughts during times of intentional or unintentional solitude. Commit a morning drive to work each week to thinking of these things with no music, phones, or distractions. Find places that you can redeem otherwise wasted pockets of space to solitude and thought in hopes of strengthening the wonderful gift of marriage. Recognize that a few hours of solitude utilized for planning can and will make the time you have with your spouse (even with “losing” those few hours) so much more rewarding and worthwhile. And when our lives at home are healthy, we are better teachers and better role models for our students.