Jump directly to the Content


Stress-related insomnia prompted Randy Frazee to set new boundaries to find the sunny side of life.

Randy Frazee was fried. His demanding work schedule had taken such a toll on his marriage, family, and health that he suffered insomnia for 45 days straight. Finally, he went to a physician who informed him that the insanity of his fast-paced life had caught up with him. He had three choices: move to Borneo; take medication, which would only temporarily relieve the symptoms; or radically change his lifestyle.

Randy opted for the last choice. Eight years later, his marriage and health have never been stronger. "I sleep like a baby now. And so does my wife!" he says.

In this MP interview, Randy, author of Making Room for Life (Zondervan), explains the secret to slowing down, enjoying life and love, and finding joy again.

You made a radical change to your lifestyle. What was it?

Randy: After my doctor's appointment, I began to study Genesis to see if God had anything to say about my situation. In Genesis 1, I noticed these statements: "And there was evening, and there was morning the first day," and "And there was evening and morning the second day." It does that for the entire creation account.

I realized that the Hebrews followed that account: at 6 P.M. they began their day ("And there was evening and morning"). Whatever was first was most important. So for them, the most important part of the day, the relational "season," began at sunset. No rushing, no work. Just a focus on their relationships with God and with others.

I discussed the lifestyle change with my wife, Rozanne, and then we told the kids. We set 6 P.M. as the definitive time to be done working for the day. That created a boundary that said we're going to have time for relationships. If something doesn't get finished, it can wait until the next day.

That shift must have been difficult to make.

It was! During the first few months

I tapped my fingers on the dinner table and thought, What am I supposed to do with all this time?

What did you do?

We made the evening meal the first item on our agenda. We have dinner together as a family every night. In our family the meal is a festival. It's not considered a "to do" list for my wife. If there's one thing you want to do for your marriage, don't miss the evening meal. There's something about sharing a meal and conversation that's incredibly powerful.

Then Rozanne and I go for a walk, sit on the back porch and take in nature, or our family plays a board game or reads a good book together. The possibilities are endless.

But you mentioned no work. Doesn't making a meal and cleaning up constitute work?

We consider that an extension of the festival. Everyone jumps in to help: our kids set the table, cut the vegetables, someone else cooks. Afterwards, we all clean up, do the dishes, and put everything away.

So even that becomes relational?

Yes! I know a couple who live this way. For years they didn't have a dishwasher. Recently, they purchased one, but not too long afterwards returned it to the company. They found that washing and drying dishes was a great opportunity for conversation, and they missed that. So they said, "Come get it. We enjoy talking to each other during washing and drying dishes."

What do you talk about during dinner?

We simply ask, "Tell me about your day," and every person gets to share.

This is what life is all about—listening to the unfolding pages of the novel of the people God has put into your life.

So Rozanne gets a chance to say, "Let me tell you about my day. I got up …" And she walks through all the experiences of her day. At the end of the sharing we ask, "How would you rate your day on a scale of 1 to 10?"

When we first started, I'd say, "Don't rush. Tell me everything." And my wife and family would say, "I feel like I'm talking too much." I'd say, "Listen. This is what we've been waiting for all day. So just relax. We're not in any hurry."

I share my day last as the wrap up. And I have to be invited to share my day, just like everyone else.

You share even the mundane stuff?

Mundane is great. It's amazing how much you learn from mundane. You discover so much about a person in terms of how they share their day.

I think couples often underestimate the value of having your spouse look in your eyes and say, "I'm reading a lifetime novel here. I don't know how it ends, and I want to hear how it's all coming together." When you stream day in and day out together, you start learning things about a person that makes it a rich experience.

How has this lifestyle affected your marriage?

It's unbelievable! Before, I'd spend a little time in the evening with Rozanne, then I'd go back to work. Because I knew I was going back to work, I was often distracted in the time we were together.

Now that I don't go back to work in the evenings, I'm more relaxed, and we have a greater devotion to each other. We have the commitment to spend time together. We've never had that in our life before. But we do now because we created it.

It's changed our priorities. Six to 10 P.M. is our destination. When we give ourselves this, not only are we fulfilling what God intended for us, but we're also making our life balanced, we get better sleep, and get more work done during the day.

For most of our 23 years of marriage,

I lived with the notion that my work was the most important thing and that relationships recharged my work. But in reality God didn't create relationships to recharge work; he created me for relationships. We were created to work but we were created for relationships. When I'm with my mate in the evening, I've arrived at my destination.

And romance?

Our intimacy level has soared! It's created a wonderful environment.

Romance is a process, not an event. And the meal conversation especially gives us an opportunity to begin the process. There's nothing like the sense of being heard and valued.

This lifestyle sounds so wonderful! But honestly, how realistic is this? Especially when some people don't even get home from work until 6 o'clock!

I'll be honest—it was a challenge when we first started. I'm this Type A, hard-driving person, so it was difficult to shut that off. I doubt I could have been talked into trying it had I not hit a crisis in my life.

God created us with a work cycle. We can work six days from 6 A.M. to 6 P.M. and take off one day. After 6 P.M. on those six days we need to enter into the relational season of the day and be replenished.

This is doable. But a couple has to sit down and make a list of the things they do on a routine basis—such as laundry, grocery shopping, or other house-related items. Then they need to ask, "When can we schedule these?" If a couple follows that schedule, they can actually have their evenings. Opt for doing things on Saturday that otherwise you'd do in the evening. Rozanne and I have a master list of things that need to be done, and we identify which ones are the priorities.

I know people would say that's rigid. The thing they don't understand is I'm not a rigid person. I've had to put myself under a stricter environment in order to create balance in my life and marriage.

For instance, I used to get up and work on the house with no boundaries, and it was oftentimes after dinner before

I stopped. Now on Saturday mornings,

I work three hours on house projects. That says working on the house is important but not extremely important. Everything has to be put in its place.

That seems as if you'd always be behind in your chores and workload, though.

There's a principle that says work takes all the time allotted to it. What we learned is that when you set a deadline for your work, you'll have a greater tendency to get more work done. Couples who don't create boundaries end up letting their work extend into all hours.

But what about kids with all their activities?

I believe kids' activities are a huge deterrent to making room for marriage. It's been ingrained into us that if we're going to be good parents we have to have our kids involved in everything.

My biggest problem with too many kids' activities is that they take us away from the one thing we're created for, the relational time of a shared meal. Prior to middle school, kids' sports are basically driven by volunteers. And volunteers have to wait until they get off work in order to run the practices or the game. And they have to do them before the sun goes down. That means they're doing practices during dinner.

So many couples we know go in two different directions because their kids are involved in evening activities. When they return to the house at 10 o'clock after gulping down Taco Bell, stressed out, there's no way they're ready for romance or balance. They're worn out. And instead of connecting relationally with their spouse, they turn on the television.

How can couples incorporate this lifestyle?

Agree to the vision. They need to understand why they need to do this. Then learn how to get your work and chores done. Set a boundary. From 6 A.M. to 6 P.M. is the season for work. That's half of my life. When you say it that way it seems extremely reasonable that we could give half of our life to work and get the work done.

Rather than jumping into the lifestyle, which may be a shock to your family, try it for one day a week. See how successful that becomes. But stick to that boundary!

Or start by committing to share a meal where you talk about each other's day. Then maybe one evening instead of going back to work, take a walk together. If you don't go back to work you're going to find a whole different relationship.

How do you get both spouses on that same vision? Especially if a spouse says, "My time at six o'clock is my own. I've worked hard. I want to sit in front of the TV and veg."

One reason people watch TV is because they have no energy. When they come home, they're so fried that watching TV is a way of vegging out. When you live a balanced life, you've got energy in the evening. I know this from personal experience.

Now that we're living a balanced life, I can't tell you the last time I watched TV. Not because I'm against TV. I'm not.

I watched TV because I was fried. Now that I'm no longer fried, I just don't find it compelling.

So you haven't seen Desperate Housewives?

{Laughs} I used to live with one!

Look, even if you start with just one night a week, as a married couple you'll find that the change will enhance your romance, improve your sleep, lower your irritability, and give you a sense that you're finally making room for life. Ultimately most people I know think that one of these days they're going to make room for life. And for them that means sitting on a lawn chair, not being rushed, sipping tea. But to me, I'm not going to wait until I retire to make room for life and my marriage. I'm not going to wait until the bottom falls out. I'm not going to wait until all my activities and projects are done.

I'm going to stop. I'm going to start making room for life right now. And it's just as simple as creating this little relational/work boundary. I'm convinced if you try it once, it's going to be your favorite night of the week. And then that will give you the encouragement to do it twice.

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

Ginger E. Kolbaba

Ginger Kolbaba is the author of Desperate Pastors' Wives and The Old Fashioned Way. Connect with her on Twitter @gingerkolbaba.

Free CT Women Newsletter

Sign up for our Weekly newsletter: CT's weekly newsletter to help you make sense of how faith and family intersect with the world.

Read These Next


Join in the conversation on Facebook or Twitter

Follow Us

More Newsletters