How to make your spouse a priority despite a busy family life

"Making your spouse a priority" starts with attitude. Repeat each day: "I am first a devoted partner with (spouse's name). (Name) comes first in my life; myself and others are second. I strive every day to keep my friendship with (name) alive. Nothing is more important to me than (name's) love and respect. Our marriage is for eternity, so I invest as much in his/her care and development as my own."

Then, divide this commitment into specific things you will do. For example:- Meet weekly to plan/coordinate your schedules.

Go out together once a week. During this time, concentrate on his/her needs.

Kneel in prayer regularly and go to the temple frequently to focus on your eternal goals.

Communicate daily in tones of praise, admiration and gentleness. Acknowledge feelings and emotions of your spouse, without imposing your own judgments.

Constantly validate one another's worth. Neither of you is perfect. You are each a work in progress.

Listen attentively to one another's problems. Do not try to solve them, just listen. If you can, share different ways of looking at the problem.

Approach differences of opinion by stating your reasoning explicitly. Explain how you arrived at your view; actively inquire into one another's views with sincere questions.

Express disagreements privately, in a way that focuses on the problem, not personalities.

Center your relationship on the Savior; forgive, go the extra mile, do not judge, and be slow to anger.

Arrange a retreat periodically as a means of renewing your commitments. - Dennis Stokes, Oxnard, Calif.

What we did:

Cleave unto spouse

"Cleaving unto" my spouse and none else for 30 years has enriched me "far above [the price of] rubies." (Prov. 31:10.) Making her a priority despite a busy work, family and Church life was based on three decisions.

We first chose a profession that gave me evenings and weekends off. I have taught high school and I am now a social worker. One price we surely paid has been earning power. Yet, we have survived financially and have a "ruby bag" full of memories.

Second, we decided that a full-time wife and mother was an indispensable "price." Her available time with me, even at work, has overwhelmingly been enriching. No other "job" has distracted her.

Third, we balanced Church service time, and also calendared time to be together weekly. "Let us check our calendar first" has allowed us to negotiate, defer or reschedule requests around our scheduled time together.

My spouse is pre-eminent in my life. - J. Thomas Cearley, Slidell, La.

Continually in mind

A favorite proverb reads, "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he." (Prov. 23:7.) It seems that the things that are continually on our minds are also the priorities in our lives. The two of us keep each other on our minds and a priority in our lives with the following:

We thank Heavenly Father for our spouse in personal prayers each day.

Each day, we try to do simple acts of service to make our spouse's life more pleasant.

We telephone each other when away at work to keep in touch and share what we are doing.

Frequent dates help to keep the relationship alive, revitalizing it with new experiences and memories.

Small paper hearts left in unusual places provide a surprise reminder of special feelings. - Judy and Jeff Keay, Healy, Alaska

Simple things

We have found after many years that it is usually the simple things that work best. Follow the prophet's counsel and have a date once a week. Remember why you married and remind each other often. A note in each other's lunches, a card sent in the mail, a simple phone call in the middle of the day, a favorite dinner are simple and fast ways to say you care. Most important are the spiritual things you do together. Don't forget to pray as a couple and be sure to attend the temple together as often as you can. Don't forget to hold hands. - Jennifer Shurts, Elgin, Ill.

Kneeling together

I had read that the highest form of intimacy is a husband and wife kneeling in prayer and saying thanks to the Lord for helping them find each other. Today, this is how we make each other a priority despite a busy family life. One of us says the prayer in the morning and the other at the conclusion of the day. - Carol Thomas, Manchester, England

Understand needs

Seek to understand clearly your spouse's needs and create personal habits and family traditions that serve those needs.

Discipline your thoughts about what is truly important to the happy, successful life of the whole family.

Seek to establish only worthy goals that daily permit you to maximize the productive use of your time.

Prioritize your goals so as to focus your primary attention on your spouse.

Teach others of your family members that you sense your duty to your spouse and desire to fulfill it and invite them to help you.

Demonstrate your sincerity by being consistent in your plan. - John E. Carr, Salt Lake City, Utah

Solitude of morning

Our time together is 5:45 a.m. We jump from bed, dress appropriately, and walk four miles together each weekday morning regardless of the weather. In addition to the exercise, we're alone together at least once daily. We begin with prayer to put ourselves in tune with the Spirit, asking for His protection. As we walk we plan the coming day, discuss the problems and successes of our family, and enjoy each other's company in the solitude of early morning. - Frank and Jeanene Ellis, Twin Falls, Idaho

How to checklist:

Pray together daily, attend temple frequently; make Savior center of your marriage.

Be aware of other's needs; offer praise, don't judge.

Set aside time together; do the "simple" things, such as a card, phone call, date night.

Use time productively; set, goals, be consistent.

Write to us:

Feb. 15 "How to survive temporally, emotionally during period of unemployment."

Feb. 22 "How to unleash the personal impact of scripture study in your life."

March 1 "How to dress on a limited budget."

March 8 "How to overcome obstacles to serving a mission as a retired couple."

March 15 "How to prepare spiritually and emotionally for death of loved one."

March 22 "How to place people above tasks."

Also interested in letters on these topics: "How to be more patient with your children," "How to foster positive communication in your family."

Had any good experiences or practical success in any of the above subjects? Share them with our readers in about 100-150 words. Write the "How-to" editor, Church News, P.O. Box 1257, Salt Lake City, Utah 84110, send fax to (801) 237-2121 or use internet E-mail: Please include a name and phone number. Contributions may be edited or excerpted and will not be returned. Due to limited space, some contributions may not be used; those used should not be regarded as official Church doctrine or policy. Material must be received at least 12 days before publication date.

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