It’s that time of year again – the season of joy and gluttony. By the time Christmas day is over, our refrigerator will be filled with yummy, delectable left-overs.
Unfortunately, not all left-overs are so delicious. Too often in a marriage, instead of our best selves, we serve up the less than appetising left-overs. We give the best of ourselves to our job, our children, our community commitments or our recreational passions… and our marriage gets the dregs. Sometimes even the television and social media get more our time and attention than our spouse.
Make no mistake; these other things are all excellent pursuits and are worthy of our time and attention. The issue is not whether or not we have these other interests, but where they sit in our priorities. The reality is there are limits to our resources. Try as we might, we can’t stretch out the day to capture more hours and we can’t give our 100% attention to more than one person or activity at a time.
Most of us treat our homes as the place where we can collapse in an exhausted heap at the end of the day; a place to relax and reenergise. A home is like a welcome refuge, the place where we don’t need to perform or excel. We also do the same with our marriages. However, like our homes, our marriages require care and maintenance to be able to provide this support base.
We’re all guilty of taking the other’s support for granted, of living off the goodwill of our spouse and family without reciprocating enough of ourselves. When life gets really busy, in our goodness we start to forgo sleep and healthy eating, medical checks and haircuts as we down prioritise them in order to meet some of our family obligations. It’s a great intention, but again, it’s not our best. We’re serving up soggy left-overs instead of the choice cuts. Other things are still getting the better part of us. And after a while, the neglect of these basics erodes our capacity to be at our best even more. Sleep deprivation and fast eating, neglected health and poor grooming make us an unattractive, grumpy presence.
Christmas and New Year is a wonderful wake-up call that invites us to re-evaluate our priorities. The humble simplicity of the Christ in a stable can help us refocus on enduring values. Do we really need all that stuff, all that activity, all that distraction? And while anytime is a good time to make a new start on a worthy program of transformation, a New Year gives added energy to the task.