Finding Joy in the Marital Routine

Have you ever heard someone say, “I love my job because no two days are the same.”?

They enjoy going to work because each day brings new and different challenges, and they never know what to expect when they walk through door.

I admire people like that because that is so not me.

I live for routine. I’m a creature of habit and I can turn into a pretty crabby creature if something interferes with my routine. I’m not lying when I tell you that I wake up at the same time every morning, eat the same breakfast (oatmeal with a lil’ cinnamon and honey), leave for work at 7:35 a.m. on the dot, park in the same parking spot every day, and the list goes on. Many people would grow bored with this routine, but I thrive on it and that’s something I learned at a young age.

My parents often tell of the time I was involved in several school sports during my middle and high school days. On the days I had practice, I was much more productive because I knew I had to wake up at a certain time, get a meal in me, and prepare my workout bag so that I had the right uniform and equipment when I got to the school gym. On the other hand, when my coach gave us a day or two off, I would stay up late, sleep in until noon or later (one time I woke up at 1 in the afternoon and was so mad that I had wasted half the day), and lay on the couch watching MTV reality shows (Parental Control or Room Raiders, anyone?). These behaviors are still true to this day. If I’m not careful, I can blow a whole evening on our couch watching The Office while eating boxed mac’ n cheese out of the pot. Which is exactly what happened last night.

Anyway, we’re getting off topic here!

Although I flourish on a routine and like to have plans in place, I realize there are many of you who consider yourself to be more spontaneous and like to take it one day at a time. There are times when I wish I was more like that. More flexible, easy-going, not so structured and rigid. But that’s why I married my husband who is the most easy going person in the world 🙂

But I don’t think routine is a bad thing. And over time, I’ve come to realize that there is comfort in the routine and I think that can be true for anyone. During these past couple months of being married, Daniel and I have established some of our own routines that have helped us tremendously and that I think any married couple can adopt. For us, they serve as checkpoints throughout the week and times we can simply enjoy being together.

We encourage you and your spouse to start your own marriage routines. Here are a few of ours to help you get some ideas flowing:

  • Navigator’s Council

If you’ve ever watched TLC, you might know of a show called Little People, Big World. One of the twins on the show recently got married and he and his wife started a marriage blog called Beating 50 Percent. The blog inspires couples to have a better than average marriage by giving more than 50 percent to their spouse. They also created a marriage journal called the Navigator’s Council, which is a weekly journal where you ask your spouse the same six questions every week and record the answers. There is a short devotional and a weekly calendar that you fill out too, so that you and your spouse are on the same page for the coming week.

I’d been eyeing this journal for a few months when Hannah (Daniel’s brother’s girlfriend) got it for us as a wedding gift! Although we very much enjoy and get plenty of use out of our new dishes and beautiful home decor from everyone who was so generous to think of us during our engagement, this journal was the best wedding gift we’d received. We sit down every Sunday (we’ve missed a couple Sundays due to varying work schedules) and read the devotional, fill out our weekly calendar, catch up on things to come in the next week, and ask each other those six questions. Some are easy and some are hard to answer. They get us thinking about the direction our marriage is headed and open up the floor for conversations that might not have taken place if we hadn’t taken the time to sit down and really listen to each other.

I can’t say enough good things about this journal and how much our marriage has benefited from it in just two short months. We highly encourage you to consider this resource for your own marriage. Thank you, Hannah, for gifting this journal to us!

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  • Grocery shopping

This may seem like a chore to some, but Daniel and I get excited to go grocery shopping. Mostly because we just really enjoy food, eating and cooking, but also because we get to spend time together and plan out our meals for the week. We’ve recently discovered that we’re big fans of meal prepping for the whole week, rather than cooking a large meal every night after work (we’re big lazy babies).

My mom told me that she and my dad enjoyed grocery shopping together when they were first married too, and I hope it’s a routine that we don’t grow out of.

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  • Keeping up with the budget 

You probably aren’t surprised to know that finances is one of the biggest marital stresses (if not THE biggest). Many couples have gone their separate ways due to money stress. So if something like this is the cause of such stress and could potentially lead to the demise of your marriage, don’t you think we ought to be paying even MORE attention to it? *Enter the Handy Dandy Budget Book*

I can’t take much credit here, since Daniel is the one who stays on top of our budget every week, but we do work together by writing down every penny we spend, categorizing it (rent, groceries, insurance, etc.), and tracking our progress, or lack thereof, from the previous month.

It’s easy to think you’re doing OK on your budget until you start keeping track of each expense and those numbers begin to stare back at you judgmentally. It’s as if they’re saying, “Wow, did you really need that pineapple print welcome mat you found at Target when you already have two others??”

However, by keeping track of where your money is going, you will start to see trends form. For example, you might notice that a big chunk of your paycheck is going toward eating out at your favorite pizza place or getting one too many brownie sundaes at that cute, old-timey pharmacy downtown. Now that you’ve identified you’re spending tendencies, and realize that you can live without that brownie sundae, no matter how much it kills you inside, you can create a plan to be more intentional with your spending. Daniel and I have some work to do ourselves in this area, but we might not have known that if we hadn’t started keeping track.

We record our spendings in a cheap notebook from the Dollar Store and I am sometimes hesitant to buy things because I know that when I get home, I’ll have to write it down in that pesky little blue spiral notebook. How’s that for a money saver?

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Your routine can be something as simple as going on an evening walk together once a week, going to the gym after work, or even watching a couple episodes of your favorite show (as long as you don’t waste the entire evening and eat the whole pot of mac’ n cheese). Setting aside specific times throughout the week allows you and your spouse to get on the same page for the upcoming week, simply be in each other’s presence and reflect on the progress you’ve made so far.

What are you favorite routines or little moments throughout the day that you get to spend with your spouse?

Thanks for reading,

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3 thoughts on “Finding Joy in the Marital Routine

  1. This is an inspiring and motivating read, even after being married a long time….thank you so much for re-directing us married couples and breathing fresh air into hum-drum routines! Routines can be good, especially those nightly walks with hubby. Another routine we’ve turned into a positive is making our bed together…..it’s 3-4 minutes of speaking POSITIVITY into each other’s lives as we begin our day.

    • I’m glad I could be of some inspiration to a couple who has been married for over 30 years! 🙂 Yes, I remember you telling me that you and dad have a morning routine of making the bed and I know you enjoy your nightly walks on the golf course!

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