Every married couple has to revisit and balance their priorities from time to time. It’s natural for life to ebb and flow, and it’s also common for couples to occasionally find themselves struggling to meet one another’s needs in some way.
Whatever out-of-balance priorities look like for you, we want you to know that it’s possible to navigate this challenging situation and come out on the other side stronger than before.
So what does it look like to balance your priorities in marriage? The answer is, it really depends.
Today, we’re sharing a few general tips to help you and your spouse work together to assess and balance your priorities. This is part one of a two-part series, so be sure to come back next week for part two.
Now, let’s begin.
What do unbalanced priorities look like in marriage?
Out-of-balance priorities can look different from one relationship to the next. Generally speaking, they’re likely to manifest in unmet expectations and unmet needs across one or more areas of your marriage. The symptoms of a priority imbalance can look like:
- Not having enough time for one another
- One spouse feeling overburdened, resentful, or lonely
- Ongoing, often unresolved, conflicts over issues such as money, time, or intimacy
- Avoidance of difficult conversations
- One or both spouses failing to empathize or consider one another’s feelings before they act
Keep in mind that this is a small, general sampling of issues that might indicate unbalanced priorities. Your unique situation could look much different.
Balancing priorities is not one-size-fits-all.
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all way to make sure that your priorities align with your spouse’s. It’s going to take flexibility, exploration, and discovery for the two of you to not only identify your priorities as individuals, but to explore what those look like as a couple. Then, you’ll both need plenty of patience as you move forward with figuring out how to bring more balance into your life.
General Steps You Can Follow To Start Balancing Your Priorities
So how can you and your spouse get started on the path to bringing your marriage and your life into a better balance?
1. Open the dialogue.
The first thing you’ll need to do together is to address the fact that you need to have a discussion about priorities. Establish that this is an issue in your marriage, and that it’s time to talk about it. This isn’t the time to give ultimatums or try to force snap decisions. Instead, it’s a time to gently acknowledge that something isn’t quite right, and you’re interested in working it out.
Simply opening the conversation in itself is a big first step. Revisiting and adjusting your priorities can be a big step, and it likely won’t happen overnight. Depending on your situation, you may only need to make small changes. On the other hand, the changes might be major. The more complex the issue, the longer it will take to work through.
2. Practice empathy.
Step into this active and ongoing discussion with your spouse through empathy. Chances are, if you’re discussing your priorities, you might have already had some difficult and emotional interactions. If you’re feeling upset or resentful toward your spouse, it could potentially be helpful to look at things from their perspective to see if you can gain a broader context
It’s important to be empathic toward one another no matter what you’re facing. Empathy goes a long way both in day-to-day life and during conflict.
Take a step back and look at this situation from your spouse’s point of view. That doesn’t mean you have to drop your perspective or stance on the situation. It just means that you’ll get a broader context outside your own. Ultimately, that will help you better understand what’s happening.
Continued next week…
Next week, we’ll continue sharing tips for helping you and your spouse balance your priorities.
Many couples struggle with prioritizing their time. This means they often don’t feel that they have enough time together or with their families. If you’d like some guidance on making more time for one another in your marriage, our book, Your Time-Starved Marriage, is a great place to start. You can pick up your copy here.
Have you and your spouse struggled with priorities in your marriage? How did you reset them? Leave us a comment below and share your experiences.