What is the secret to success–in any endeavor? Innate ability? Privileged circumstances? Dumb luck? While many factors play a role one stands out.
Researchers who compared the accomplishments of a wide range of professionals discovered a common thread among those who excel. More than innate talent or privileged background, the decisive factor was time. The most successful people consistently invested 10,000 hours or more in achieving their goal.
What does this mean for marriage? The key to a good marriage may not be finding the right person, possessing an innate ability to connect, or even a enjoying a financially secure lifestyle though all these help. The real key to a successful marriage rests on couples focusing time and energy on each other.
Given the significance of time another study proves disheartening. Researchers at the Office for National Statistics found that married couples spend about 2.5 hours per day together. If the couple has children, the number drops by half, about 1.25 hours with an hour of that watching television. Not nearly enough for success.
While 10,000 hours seems somewhere between daunting and impossible, how can couples invest the time needed for a vibrant, loving relationship? They can start with three habits.
Fifteen Minutes a Day
Couples should set aside the first fifteen minutes on returning home to catch up with each other. Most spouses live their days apart. Experiencing separate challenges and joys. When couples take time to share events and emotions from the day, they join their separate moments into a common story.
- Drop everything and focus on each other. No cell phones, no television, no interruptions.
- Corral kids. Make it clear that Mom and Dad are going to the bedroom for 15 minutes alone. Unless there is gushing blood, no interruption. Reserve videos to entertain for this time. Assign older siblings to watch younger ones. Put everyone in separate rooms to read. Whatever it takes refuse to let kids invade this time.
- Use the time to connect, not argue. If a bigger issue must be addressed, set a clear time for that discussion. Focus this time on bonding with each other.
One date per week
Set aside one time per week to invest in fun together. Too many marriages focus solely on paying bills, raising children, and mowing grass. While these are important, couples need more. Life brings challenge. Couples draw on their bank account of good connection to get through those challenges. If few deposits have been made, challenges begin to overwhelm.
Whether you meet for breakfast, throw a picnic blanket on the living room floor for an after-kids-are-in-bed romantic dinner, or go all out for a night on the town plan to have fun together. As you share interests and experiences, you make deposits into the connection account.
One weekend away per month
When children are young this proves challenging. At the same time, when children are young parents are most disconnected. Putting this marital habit in place helps ensure that the rigors of daily parenting don’t supersede the marriage relationship. Likewise, when careers are busy, making time proves challenging. Realize everything in life will work against this time.
To make it happen:
- Find other couples to trade babysitting or utilize extended family
- Go to out-of-the way spots for budget friendly alternatives–one couple simply escaped to their camper at a friend’s pond
- Schedule weekends on the calendar at the beginning of the year so other events don’t crowd out
The key to a great marriage lies in investing your most valuable resource in your most important relationship. As you do, you find–10,000 hours aren’t nearly enough.
If you are struggling to make marriage work, The Resolution Center offers Marital Mediation–a process for helping couples create and live a vision for intimacy on every level. We would love to serve you–call or visit our website for more information.