It doesn’t take long to realize that marriage is work. Funny how that works isn’t it? I can’t say I’m all that surprised. After all it’s not like no one warned me of this. I suppose I just didn’t expect to be facing this challenge so soon. Pat and I are a mere six months into this vocation (newlyweds by most definitions) and yet we have already felt the chaos of day-to-day life pulling us in different directions. So how do couple’s stay connected in a culture that demands you give every ounce of yourself to all the things that really don’t matter? This is our vocation and should always be a main priority despite how busy life gets. Below are some things we do to keep our focus:

1) Establish a Routine

This has by far been the most difficult adjustment for Pat and I in marriage. Prior to our nuptials, Pat had his routine and I had mine. We both found ample time to fit one another into our daily lives. Now that we are married the routine and order we both once knew separately has collided and abruptly come to an end. Gone are the days of hanging out when it worked for each of us. We are now forced to create a new routine together, one that plays on both our strengths and keeps the house from burning down.

As with everything we are still working out the kinks, but for starters begin with discussing the obvious. What needs to be done every week? What needs to be done every month? Is there any holiday or birthday coming up in the next month? How do you each like to celebrate? Who is in charge of dinner? Laundry? Paying the bills? You get the idea. The point is to discuss and establish your expectations for how daily life is going to run. It’s okay if you do a few trial runs before you find a routine that works for you both. The point is not immediate success, but rather progress.

2) Schedule a Weekly Meeting

This isn’t a date night so get that out of your head right now, and it isn’t a five-minute discussion before you walk out the door. It is dedicated and scheduled time to meet with your spouse and go over all the “business items” of your marriage. Business may include everything from checking in with another to going over schedules for the week to discussing finances.

While it sounds so formal and almost ridiculous, this is hands down one of the most beneficial things Pat and I do for our marriage. Pat and I make this part of our weekly routine, but this is up to your fancy. Some couples find it helpful to break up their finance meeting and business meeting, while other couples lump it all together and meet bi-weekly. Doesn’t matter how it happens, just make sure that it does happen…and consistently. If you need some pointers on where to start check out Pat and I’s running agenda.

Download the Husband & Wife Meeting Template Here >>

3) Pray Together

This one seems so obvious, yet it is so often neglected. Most couples find this uncomfortable and I can completely relate to that sentiment. As I reminisce back to Pat and I’s very first date I recall he suggested we begin the date with a prayer, naturally I took this as an opportunity to turn the spotlight back on him and asked him to lead us. I will never forget the hesitant albeit adorable look he gave me as he began to stumble through this somewhat spontaneous prayer, paralyzed by the feeling of what to say next.

That being said, I’ll be the first to admit that this is one of the most intimate aspects of a person’s life. As it should be, we are after all conversing with our Creator. But it’s time for us all to get over it. Get over the awkwardness. Come together and humble yourselves before our Lord. Push yourself past the fear of not knowing what to say next and just be vulnerable with Him. This will in turn allow you to become more vulnerable with one another and isn’t that what love is all about, to know one another intimately while being simultaneously known intimately by them?

While this is still a huge work in progress for Pat and I, we have come a long way from the days of staring at one another blankly wondering who should start and what to say.

4) Date Nights are Not Optional

Last but not least, find some dedicated time for each other without kids, business talk or other distractions. Make it special. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to go out and spend a ton of money, but rather make it part of your routine that you look forward to. Dress up for one another. Take turns planning it and surprise each other. Maybe it is a romantic date night or maybe its simply a quiet dinner together, however you unwind and have fun together is entirely up to you. I realize that this isn’t anything new or earth shattering, but it really is what seems to bring us back together when life is to be spinning out of control.  It’s the “fun” things that give us something to look forward to in the ordinary tasks of our day-to-day life.

So there it is…a less than comprehensive list I know, but hopefully it’ll get you heading in the right direction. Remember if our vocation is our primary vehicle to heaven than it needs to be of prime importance no matter how busy life gets.