here we were, sitting in our bedroom and Jess was sharing with me how she felt that I was distant and a bit on edge with her. She recognized that I was stressed and overwhelmed, and asked me how I was taking care of myself. It was at that moment that I realized that I couldn’t remember the last time I had actually thought about what I needed. She looked at me and said, “Remember to take some time for yourself and allow yourself to recharge”.
Okay, let’s be honest, many people think that the definition of selfishness is us meeting our own needs and that taking care of ourselves is selfish. Self-care is often lost in the midst of us trying to do the “right” thing. The thing that we need to remember is, sometimes the best way we can take care of our spouse and our marriage is by taking the time we need to recharge. Despite what most people think, self-care isn’t actually selfish. Self-care recognizes that we can’t constantly give without having our energy bucket filled sometimes too. The concept of self-care, at its core, is doing what you need to do to make sure you can be your best for others, including your spouse. The core of this is usually tied to what makes you come alive. It’s simple but important.
So how do we start?
- Figure out what self-care looks like for you
- Recognize the differences between you and your spouse
- Know your tendencies
- Recognize how you react when your tank is empty
- Give yourself the attention you need
- Get started
For me, I feel most energized after a decent chunk of time alone. This could be working on a project, going for a walk in nature, taking time to play guitar or piano, or spending time listening to worship music. It all depends on where I am.
For Jess, she likes to cook, spend time with friends, listen to music, or do something fun and adventurous.
You can see the clear difference between the two of us–I need to be alone to recharge, and that’s not always true for her. There’s nothing wrong with either way–it’s just how God made us. What’s important is that you respect one another’s way of recharging even if it’s the opposite of yours.
The problem for Jess and I comes when I get so focused on helping her have the adventure she wants that I don’t get my alone time or when she gets so focused on helping me have my alone time that she gets lonely. Neither is good, but we tend to go back and forth in different seasons.
It’s important to pay attention if you have a tendency to run yourself out of gas to take care of your spouse, and it’s important that they recognize it too! By paying attention to these patterns, you can help encourage each other to get what you each need.
Jess is amazing about this–she’s usually the first to notice if I’m running on fumes, and she’ll say something to help me see it too.
For me, I get grumpy and not fun to be around when I’m overdue for some alone time. I don’t always notice it, and even when I do, I often feel guilty about taking the alone time that I need. I’d rather do something adventurous and meet her needs than something alone and meet my own. Normally, this is a good thing, but when it gets to the point that I’m grumpy and taking it out on her, it isn’t healthy.
To be healthy, we NEED to have that self-care. We NEED to take the time to recharge. Otherwise, we’re grumpy, or at the very least not our best. It can be hard to step away from time with your spouse to recharge, but it’s worth it. Now, to be clear, I’m not talking about stepping away from important things or using this as an excuse to avoid responsibility or to neglect your spouse or your biblical role, but I am saying that taking an hour or two a week to recharge is a good thing!
The idea of self-care sounds great, but it can be hard to do. I often don’t even realize I’m struggling until I’m pretty far gone, especially in times of stress. Sometimes I have a big chunk of work to do, and in the name of getting it done, I tend to neglect my self-care for a period of time. Instead of continuing on that pattern, I have to consciously step back and make the choice to take care of myself. My work may be important, but my marriage is always more important. My wife should get the best of me, not what’s left. So even in the busy times, I need to make sure I’m recharging to be my best for her. I’m far from perfect, but it’s a goal I keep bringing myself back to because it matters.
It’s fine to start small. Sometimes that’s all we can do. Take 20 minutes to go for a walk on your lunch break. Call a friend or listen to an audiobook as you drive. What you do doesn’t matter as much as how often you do it. Find something that recharges you and find a way to make it a part of your everyday life. You’ll be better for it, and so will your marriage.
What about you? Do you have something regularly built into your life that helps you recharge? Leave us a comment and let us know–we’d love to hear from you!