Sunday, June 6, 2010

Pruning the tree

The discrepancies between my last few posts dawned on me. I was basking in the quiet slowness, with my family, savoring the little things and, within a week, there was a plunge right into overscheduled stress again. Just crazy how it can happen that fast, in a blink of an eye, and the old patterns pick right back up. Changing a lifestyle truly does take minute-by-minute intention.

In my defense, though, my evenings have remained relatively untouched. For awhile, Fred and I were barely seeing each other. He would go to poker, game nights in Huntsville, or Movie Nights, and I would be off at Cooking Club, Book Club, MUMs events, birthday bashes.... Until we realized that, while it may all be "good stuff," it's certainly not all beneficial to us or our marriage. I love seeing my friends. But I will not choose them over my family. Occasional (like once a week, maybe) evening activities are fine, but it simply can't become a habit to socialize more than spend quality evening time together.

I'll step on toes and go so far as to say that most marriages would be a heck of a lot healthier if both spouses would simply STAY HOME and see each other. Talk, read together, play games. These things are so easily forgotten, left abandoned by the roadside in favor of more "exciting" opportunities. In the end, though, it left us feeling fatigued, frustrated and unfulfilled. The more couples I meet, the more I become convinced that none of us spend nearly enough time with the person we married. Just talking. Savoring. Enjoying, relaxing.

So, here's the heads up for my darling friends: I love you and love spending time with you. Phone calls are often hard for me, because I simply can't ignore my children to have a long conversation. There are four little people needing supervision, help, attention. I often stick to email, because it's something I can leave and come back to. It only takes a few moments; I can pray for someone, jot a note, give a time to meet... and then jump right back into the activities with my kids. I'm so thankful for those of you who understand that. It's not about avoiding anyone, only about being intentional with my time. I answer the phone when it's convenient, but I've never been a slave to it.

And, as much as I love love love to be around people, I'm being very purposeful about keeping most of my evenings free. Us ENFPs are those wacky extroverts that also *need* downtime. In my case, it's creative time. So, in addition to needing downtime and housecleaning time, I also need spouse-time. That just doesn't leave ample time for other things in the evenings. I'm trying to put the big rocks in the jar first (for those who have heard that analogy.)

But don't be confused; my days are still full and fun with the people I love. We have playdates almost every day, plus horseback riding, craft days, field trips.
Then the Rest comes in the evening.
(I'll go to Book Club if/when I actually have time to read the current book. I'll go to Cooking Club, seeing as how I love it and it's only once a month. But I simply cannot go to every birthday party for each friend and each friend's child, or I would never see my own family.)

Anyone else have an overcommitment issue? (sigh)
How do you plan? Do you set guidelines for yourself?


Anna K. said...

I'm very protective of our family time in the evenings...and my time with the Hubs. Our time together is important to us both. We talk, laugh, dream, play games and generally hang out and enjoy one another's presence. We think that it's important for our marriage that we ENJOY one another!

In other words, I totally get what you're saying and I agree! ;)

Soaring High said...

You are a wise wife and mother Wendy. I commend you!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like moving from good to better. What about from better to best? - sd

Anonymous said...

Having trouble posting - I apologize if this is a duplicate.

Looks like you are moving from good to better - what about better to best?


Pearl Berries said...

Yes. You said so much better what I never could convey. My family and personal time is precious! You get a high five from me! :)

Just what are those Woods up to? said...

Good job, Wenders! It can be so hard to say no to some things in order to keep your priorities right. I cherish my evening time with Adam...and, well, you know how I am about the phone...Once you continue to make this a lifestyle for a while I don't think it will be so difficult to say no b/c people will start catching on to the fact that you just aren't always available and they'll understand why. I'm sure Fred appreciates your protection of your time together so much, and I know what an incredible blessing you are to your kiddos with the way you give them such great quality time--they'll reap the benefits of that their whole lives.

Interesting comment, SD. I was wondering, in your opinion, what "the best" would be for Wendy? I'm very curious!

Anonymous said...

Mrs. Woods - oh, that is certainly not my job to say what is best for someone else. There are some very specific things that are required of all believers, separating wheat from chaff. Then there are the things like her art (which I love to view but am not made to create myself) that bless her & others, which God created her to do, that are different for each of us.

I guess I am saying if I were at "best" in all my areas at around 40, or she were at "best" at 30, then we're done. We should always be striving toward God's best in all our areas of calling.

One of the things that amazes me most about the author is her rejuvenation through her extrovert-ness. I'm an "I" & it wears me out to just think about her schedule!

Okay - I'm just rambling now. Next time maybe I'll just email you directly? ;-) -sd

Erin said...

I cried reading your thoughts. I too want to be home at nights. I have kind of a different problem though. I am home often with my family and I find myself feeling left out. I've decided that I struggle with coveting and not being content. I've realized that I just can't do it all, but am sad when I hear of friends getting together and I've missed out...

I am so thankful for my family and am grateful that God has convicted me to put them first. Thanks so much for sharing your recent choices. It helps to not feel as alone out here.

I hope you have a great summer!

Living Creatively said...

I know what you mean. I've been in that stage before, too. It can feel awfully lonely, until I remind myself that it was an intentional GOOD choice, to slow down and savor my family.
Still, it is hard to cut things out. I bow out of activities, and then watch those friendships slowly migrate away from me.
The great friends will always stay great friends, though.
And, really, my husband and kids are my best friends anyway, and those are the relationships that I need to nurture and focus on more than any others.
It's ridiculously easy for people (me) to neglect the MOST important things in favor of "good things."

Living Creatively said...

heh...and I should have written "an intentional BEST choice."