Millions of students are heading back to school this week, and this means that “Mom’s Taxi” and “Dad’s Cab” will be in service once again, with a flurry of family activity surrounding sports practices, after-school activities, dance rehearsals and homework.
But authors Dr. Paul and Terrie Chappell, married for 36 years, want to remind parents of a very important “back-to-school” lesson—after God, their marriage must come first.
In their soon-to-be-released book, “Are We There Yet? Marriage—a Perfect Journey for Imperfect Couples,” the Chappells talk about setting priorities in marriage and making time for one another, even in the busiest times of life.
“One of the best representations of your real priorities is your schedule,” Dr. Chappell writes about busyness in Chapter 10 called “Syncing Your Itineraries.” “What we merely suggest we want to do
‘sometime’ rarely happens, but what we actually schedule time for gets done. Just as a good financial manager will make a budget and first pay the mortgage and utilities before allotting money to eating out, so a conscientious spouse will designate quality time together before allowing their schedule to be filled with matters of lesser importance.”
It’s not uncommon, the Chappells add, that once children are grown and begin their own lives, husbands and wives discover they have nothing in common and their connection has been lost because all their time and energy was poured into their kids rather than their marriage.
The Chappells suggest that married couples, especially those with children, should consider creating daily, weekly and seasonal routines that draw them closer to their spouse.
- Daily—Make it a priority during mealtimes to sit down with one another, set your phones aside, and talk, the Chappells write. If you have children, this family mealtime won’t be undivided attention for you and your spouse, but it is still vital. Early evening, or just before bed, is another excellent time for connection. Give each other a minimum of 15 minutes where you ask and listen and share about one another’s day and pray together.
- Weekly—Planning a weekly date night is one of the most important habits you can set, the Chappells advise in “Are We There Yet?” This can sometimes be at home, provided you really do disconnect from the television, your phones and independent projects. But go out sometimes as well. These dates don’t need to be expensive, but they do need to be regular. Try to pull away from the rest of the world for a while and just enjoy your spouse. In addition to date nights, if you have children, carve out undistracted family time. Once again, the idea isn’t how much money you spend; it is how much time you spend.
- Seasonally—Plan periodic times to get away with one another to focus on your marriage, the Chappells say. This may be an annual couples’ retreat, an out-of-town anniversary celebration or a monthly “extra” activity with just the two of you.
“Priorities do not set themselves,” Dr. Chappell adds. “You must purposefully set them and then resist the natural drift away from them. This will include saying ‘no’ to some opportunities or activities that don’t contribute toward or that prohibit you from strengthening your relationship. But it is easier to say
‘no’ to something when there is a greater ‘yes’ burning inside. When you start by identifying your God-given priorities, it helps you identify that greater ‘yes,’ making your needed ‘no’ more clear.”
In their new book, the Chappells candidly share biblical principles and personal, transparent illustrations that will equip couples to travel down the road of marriage further together, making the trip more enjoyable. Whether newlyweds or married for decades, husbands and wives will find truth in “Are We There Yet?” to help them clarify their destination, communicate their needs, grow as a couple and even shed some baggage along the way.
With additional chapter titles such as “It Looked Different in the Picture,” “Paying with Foreign Currency,” “It’s a Two-Lane Highway,” “Unexpected Turbulence,” “Traveling Light” and “Booking a Room,” “Are We There Yet?” explores topics from expectations, needs and communication to trials, forgiveness and intimacy.
Pre-orders for “Are We There Yet?” are beginning now online at www.AreWeThereYetBook.com. Bonus items for those who pre-order before the Oct. 17 release date include: Chapter 1 in PDF format, a marriage Q&A video session with the Chappells, downloadable “Travel with Me” cards—52 questions to inspire your marriage journey; and a printed “Are We There Yet?” companion guide for the first 1,000 pre-orders.