Too Busy l July/August 2014
How busy do you keep yourself? Very busy? Crazy busy? Insanely busy? Nowadays we’re almost always busy. We boast about it as a point of pride — so much achievement and productivity!
What’s not keeping us busy is personal reflection — sitting quietly and thinking about our lives: following our train of thoughts and feeling our feelings. And without such reflection, our primary relationship can really suffer.
If we don’t take the time to notice what we’re feeling — our authentic emotions — it’s easy to overlook relationship red flags. For instance, if we’re too busy to notice that lately we’re feeling lonely — owing perhaps to a spouse’s travel schedule or late nights glued to the home computer — we’re unlikely to talk about our loneliness, and therefore unlikely to make needed course corrections (before the relationship hits the skids). Or if we’re too busy to notice creeping levels of irritation — stemming perhaps from a series of broken agreements, or habits that continue to dismay — we’re unlikely to talk about what’s bothering us, and therefore not make helpful course corrections.
It’s not just overlooking the downside that we risk in our lifestyle of busyness. If we’re too busy to notice feelings of gratitude and admiration for what our spouse contributes, we’re unlikely to express those feelings, missing an opportunity to promote good will and deepen mutual respect.
There’s so much we miss when we’re too busy to notice our inner lives. Often our busyness results from allowing work to infiltrate every nook and cranny of our days. At other times it’s a kind of addiction to external stimulation: checking email, surfing the Web, reading and responding to texts. We’ve succumbed to the illusion that it’s better to do something than to do nothing, and thinking or feeling seems like doing nothing.1 How wrong we are about that! Thinking and feeling is doing something valuable, especially for the welfare of our marriage: it leads to connecting with our authentic selves, and in those moments finding answers to the question: How am I experiencing my relationship lately?
We’ve heard it countless times: successful marriage takes work. Let’s not be so busy with everything else that we make no time to notice the thoughts and feelings associated with the relationship that matters most.
1Wilson, Timothy D., et al. “Just think: The challenges of the disengaged mind.” Science. July 4, 2014:Vol. 345 no. 6192 pp. 75-77.