Marriage enrichment is TIME well spent

  • Published
  • By Angie Erickson
  • Volunteer Contributor
It's been nearly 10 years since my husband and I attended pre-marital counseling with an Air Force chaplain, and not an anniversary goes by that I don't think about the valuable lessons that came from those one-hour sessions over the course of six weeks.

Looking back, I see that this counseling was one of the wisest investments of time that I could make for my future with the most important person in my life - my spouse. 

As a military veteran, I was taught valuable time management skills, as well as, the importance of performing maintenance on my equipment. I operated in a world of acronyms that made sense in order to accomplish the mission. But it wasn't until I attended this pre-marital counseling that it occurred to me that there weren't any acronyms or standard operating procedures that were going to help me with my matrimonial mission. 

I started out, as most do, with the best intentions. I spent a great deal of time reading self help books on various subjects to improve myself and of course our relationship, earned a bachelor's degree in psychology and a master's degree in management. 

While I seemed to be excelling in my career, it wasn't until I sat at a carwash one day and watched and waited, and waited and watched for several hours as my vehicle was detailed inside and out that I realized that my marriage was suffering. 

As a newlywed, I had left the military and went on to manage my own real estate team. It was a new world with its own language, and I came to understand that if I wanted to be successful, it required an investment of time. Some of that time spent went to servicing my vehicle. I had my SUV detailed and frequently maintained because I not only spent a great deal of time driving, but I depended on it to take me and my clients where we needed to go. 

I was spending hours upon hours each day building my real estate business and maintaining my vehicle, but what was I doing to improve my marriage? At that car wash I felt the urgency to take a personal inventory of my life, and eight years into my marriage I knew two things were certain: We all have 24-hours-a-day and 365-days-per-year.  How was I spending my time and with whom was I spending all of my time with? 

Unfortunately, I was taking better care of my vehicle and most of my clients then I was of my marriage and family, and once I realized that my priorities were out of order I knew that I had to quickly 'pencil in' marriage maintenance! 

We not only began to spend more time together, but we sought out marriage enrichment opportunities through base agencies and began to hang out with couples who had time-proven recipes for marriage success! 

It took almost a decade but I think I truly have come up with an acronym that works well for me and my husband: TIME (Time Invested Means Everything) is vital to a successful marriage. I did not get married to spend my life apart from my mate, my husband is my best friend, and a man I respect and want to spend time with. Unfortunately, I got so caught up with my career that I had forgotten what mattered most in life - my spouse. 

Having a successful career and a fun hobby may be important, but seeking balance and setting priorities concerning marriage are vital for marital bliss. Common sense tells us that if we smile at someone, we should expect a smile back or if you give your spouse a token of affection you should expect a positive reaction. A lot can be said about common sense and time. You've heard it said, you reap what you sow and you get what you give? I believe you have to invent your own successful acronyms along your marital journey, as well as, seek wise counsel if you're going to stand the test of TIME (Time Invested Means Everlasting). 

Today my spouse and I take the TIME to run fun runs, dance in the rain and have lunch together. We are committed to our matrimonial mission and are thankful that we have had the military resources available to help us mature and prosper, as husband and wife, so that we may serve as positive role models for our young Airmen. 

I encourage you, no matter what stage in life you might be in your marriage, or whatever obstacle or crisis you are facing, to seek wise counsel through the base chapel, life skills or at the A&FRC. Each one of these organizations offers wonderful marriage enrichment opportunities that will strengthen and renew your marriage!