Those of you who have been following me know I am a newlywed. Almost 18 months. Now, this isn’t my first rodeo. I was married before. And I think as with any painful experience that we survive—like the failure of a marriage—there should be some lessons learned, so we can avoid going through that particular hell again. The #1 lesson I walked away with from my first marriage, vowing never to forget, was to give my husband Priority Status.
While we were going through marriage counseling during the latter part of our marriage, my first husband admitted he felt like a distant third place in my life when it came time for doling out my time and attention. First, there were the kids (our baby son and his two daughters from his previous marriage). Then came my job. And then, with whatever time and energy was left over (read: NONE!), came him. And while there weren’t a lot of things he got right about our marriage (okay, yes, I just threw some shade!), my ex was absolutely dead on-point about his placement on my time and energy totem pole. I won’t make that mistake this time around.
How about you, married ladies? Does your husband have priority status in your life? Or vice versa?
I’m going to be honest. This time around, it’s MUCH easier. My new husband and I are both wiser, established professionals. The kids are grown (or think they are anyway). And it’s just the two of us in the house on most days. That’s a HUGE difference from my life before. But, ladies, even if you are working and have younger children, it’s still important for you to make your spouse your most important VIP. Not your mama, not your favorite sister. And especially not your college roommate with whom you can easily eat up two hours a night gossiping about what happened to this person and that since graduation. Or other important topics like: What was Shonda thinking during this final season of Scandal? Why did she decide to have Olivia crossover from wearing all white Dolce Gabbana Gladiator finery to Christian Dior black capes and other gothic wear appropriate for a power-hungry Princess of Darkness? (You know, it’s saying something that Olivia is now scarier than Poppa Pope!)
But I digress. (See how easy it is to do? LOL) My point is, your MAN needs to come first!
Whenever possible, don’t bring work home with you. Easier said than done, you say. But is it? Really? If so, maybe it’s time to talk with your boss about your workload. Realign expectations. (That’s a whole other post you’ll find over in our Career Blog.)
And while it is a bit tough to do, you must prioritize family, too. I get it. You’ve got sooo much going on. And are pulled in sooo many ways. You love all your family and want to give them your love and time. Whether it’s an uninterrupted ear to listen to your mom share about something that happened with Cousin Ronnie, or showing up to be in the audience for your sister’s little one’s ballet recital. Whatever it is, these things take time: YOURS! And there are only so many hours in the day. If you’re using scripture, the Bible offers this order: God, spouse, children, parents, extended family, brothers and sisters in Christ, and then the rest of the world.
Here are some tricks I’ve learned:
- I talk to my sisters and friends during my commute to and from the office (using hand free devices, of course, if I’m driving. And using my inside voice if I’m on the commuter train or bus. Okay, I’m NEVER on a bus, but you get my point. Not everyone who’s on your form of public transportation needs to be a part of your conversation with your sister!)
- I text my son right before I go to sleep. He’s a night owl and probably won’t respond until the wee hours anyway. So I avoid the what’s-wrong-with-this-child-that-he-can’t-respond-immediately-to-my-text-messages rants by promptly falling asleep. I am greeted by his response when I awaken in the morning. A nice way to start my day.
- I group text my sisters! Warning: this could go on for days depending on their crazy schedules as various sisters jump into the text discussion late (some without bothering to read the thread), which could start the conversation all over. I set the group text to Do Not Disturb so the constant pinging doesn’t distract me when they start to come in.
- I ask people to give me at least a full month’s notice for any event they want me to attend.
- I call my close girlfriends on Sundays or whenever my husband is immersed in watching some sporting event on TV. This is usually when he wishes I would disappear anyway and not ask him such important questions like “What’s it called when they kick the ball over the pole? Why isn’t that worth as many points as when they run it over because kicking it from that distance looks much harder to do than running?”
- I call my mom as I’m being driven to an airport. Which means I probably end up talking to her more than anybody else, except my husband, because I’m ALWAYS headed to an airport. I try to get out to see her on Sundays.
What that means is that when I’m home, my time and attention is exclusively focused on my husband. And I don’t have any guilty feelings that I’ve left others in my family out. If you’ve still got kids at home, you get them fed, homeworked, bathed, and in bed by a certain time. (I was manic about set bedtimes when my son was younger!) Depending on their ages, they should be in bed at least two to three hours before YOU go to bed. That’s husband time.
Making your spouse your PRIORITY means you LOOK at him (as in eye contact) when he’s talking to you. Stop multitasking, and give him your undivided attention.
Making your spouse your PRIORITY means you take his phone calls whenever he calls. You don’t blow him off even if you can only speak for a few seconds because you’re rushing into a work meeting. If you are indeed in a work meeting, try this: you know those auto messages that get sent when you can’t answer your phone? Customize one just for your husband, “Lovah! I’m in a meeting. Will call u as soon as I can. U alright?” and insert that emoji that’s blowing a kiss. At least he’s feeling your love, even during your meeting.
Before I got remarried, I noticed how my best friend Glenda always interrupted our phone conversations whenever her line beeped and it was her husband Walter calling. She would say, “Oh! That’s my Walter calling. I’m going to have to call you back!” and promptly hang up on me. She lived with Walter and saw him every day. Whereas, I – her BFF EVAH – lived three hours away and could only grab snatches of conversations here and there with her because of our two busy lives. It annoyed the heck out of me when she disconnected our calls. But you know what? Glenda and Walter have been married for thirty-two years. So CLEARLY, she’s got her priorities straight.
I apply what I can from the Masters and from my previous life lessons. And humbly pass along these tips to you. My work here is done. I’ll leave the prioritizing up to you; let me know if this strategy helps.