As a newlywed the number one question I get asked is, “How’s the married life?”, and I often hesitate before I reply.
Now, it is not that married life is not great. It is also not because I am having doubts. Mostly, it is because I pause to think about how it feels like my husband and I have less time together now than before we got married.
One would think that after moving in together we would get to spend more time with each other, but how it actually feels is the total opposite: It feels like we have almost no time together.
My husband works full-time on an overnight schedule. The exact time he starts and ends can vary throughout the year, but he basically wakes up when most people go to bed and goes to sleep when most people wake-up. If he has class he will typically take a nap and then work on school work before he heads to class. After class he will usually head straight to work. He has also had different variations of “weekend” schedules.
What I mean by this is that the days he gets off do not always coincide with the typical weekend (Saturdays and Sundays). Right now, his “weekend” is the weekend. It sounds like this would work in our favor, but most of the time it does not.
I am a Youth Minister, which means weekends are my busiest days. That means my busiest days are my husband’s most free days.
My weekday office schedule is more flexible and is usually worked around my school classes. Factor in my commute to school (which can be anywhere from 45 minutes to 1 hour and 15 minutes one way), and I can be out all day. Even if I am not at school, I usually dedicate all of the free time I have on the days I have class to studying (readings, writing papers, etc.).
So what does a typical day for the Park’s look like?
My husband gets off work and then heads to the gym. When he gets home I am usually still sleeping. If he is unusually tired he goes straight to sleep, but on most days he stays awake for a little bit. On a bad day, when I am particularly sleep deprived, I will sleep in and end up waking up when he is ready to go to bed. On a good day we might get to share a meal, his “dinner” and my breakfast, which is always nice.
There are nights I do not make it home on time to see him before he heads to class or work, but typically I will make it back in time to pack him lunch and see him off. Then I’ll head to bed anywhere from 2 to 4 a.m.
Keep in mind I have only described our work and school schedules. This is not factoring in any volunteer work, social time, errands, etc. So it follows that we must spend less time with each other now than before we got married, right?
Interestingly enough, we have come to the conclusion that despite our busy schedules we do spend more time together now than before our marriage. So why does it feel like we spend less time together?
Someone once told me, “There isn’t enough time in the world to love the people we want to love.” It made sense in my mind when I first heard that as a teenager, but as time goes by it is making more sense in my heart.
I find myself wanting to spend more time with my husband. More time than is possible most weeks. The truth behind this saying is starting to hit me hard — I truly do not have enough time in my lifetime to love those I want to love.
I catch myself acting out and wanting to fight this immutable truth. It is too sobering, and the contrast between it and the way I want the world to be can appear frighteningly stark.
Still, life goes on. So what do I do about all of this? Here are two things that I find particularly helpful:
- Refocusing – Often times I find myself having the time to do my work, yet I do not want to do it. Maybe you have experienced this too? These are the times I refocus myself to be present with the people and the tasks at hand, rather than, getting mired in daydreams of the person I would like to spend more time with.
- Grounding – There are times when I start to act on how I wish things were, rather than how they really are. At these times is when I try to remember who I am and who my husband is: Independent people made in the Image of God. Despite not having much time together, I need to remember that I should not let my longing for more time with him overwhelm my need to respect who he is and his freedom.
One of the ways that I ground myself is to pursue hobbies or interests that I have separate from my husband. For instance, one of the hobbies I have recently picked up is gardening. Another passion that I am trying to bring back into my life is dancing.
By continuing to foster the little things that bring me joy and peace in my life I am respecting my own identity and person-hood, and also celebrating the freedom in that identity.
I am not losing myself in our relationship, but rather, allowing the energy from our relationship to inspire and motivate me to discover more about myself.
Life is short. We can make the best of it by facing the truths we want to reject, and embracing these same truths to learn how to live better.
Do you feel like life is too short? Were you thinking of a specific loved one while reading this post? What do you do when you can’t spend as much time with them as you’d like? What can you do to make the best of your time with them? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!