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"We Don't Have Fun Anymore"

Also: "My Wife Is a Hypocrite"

Q. My husband and I have been married seven years and we don't have fun anymore. It just feels like everything is work—we both work full time, then we come home and work on the household chores. Our weekends are more of the same: running errands until we drop! I miss enjoying just hanging out or doing something fun with my husband—but I don't know how to make things change.

A. You've fallen into a common trap. With the demands on our time both at work and at home, it's becoming more difficult for many couples to find balance in their lives. It's easy for us to allow the tyranny of the urgent to turn us into human doings rather than human beings. Over time we discover we've lost touch with ourselves, our spouse, and even God.

So what can you do? Stop it! That's right. Just choose to stop it! Get off that hamster wheel. Find a mutually agreeable time when the two of you can have a couple of hours to talk through what you're both feeling.

Talk about the value of recreation and play and just hanging out together. Remember that recreation provides a sense of balance, it provides perspective, it produces new memories, it increases bonding, it deepens trust, and can actually energize us to work smarter rather than work harder. 

Where can you start? This seems simplistic, but schedule a weekly "date night" and stick to it. Alternate activities that each of you would like to do. And because our health is so important, why not squeeze out the time—and commit—to work out together? It could be as simple as just taking a walk every evening after supper.

The reality is that if you don't do something to change your schedules, your schedules will begin to take over your lives, and your relationship will never get any better. Remember that recreation leads to re-creation. It can help you rediscover why you said "I do" and discover new reasons why you still do.

My wife is a hypocrite

Q. My wife is such a hypocrite! She nitpicks every single dollar I spend, saying we can't afford it, but then she goes out and spends hundreds of dollars on clothes or decorations for the house. When I confront her, she just says, "That's different. I need those things." How can I make her see she's adding to the problem?

A. For the time being you may not be able to make her see she's adding to the problem. It doesn't sound like either of you is having much fun, and both seem committed to keep on doing what you've been doing. Someone once said that if you keep on doing what you've always done you'll keep on getting what you've always got. Bummer!

Your first step is to realize that your problem isn't really who spends how much on what kinds of items. The root problem is that you don't have a mutual understanding of the role of money in your marriage and aren't communicating on this critical relational issue.

The Bible has a lot to say about the role money plays in our lives and in how we handle our finances—our earning, saving, spending, and giving.

When was the last time you looked at your income, made a list of your debts, agreed on a budget, and carefully laid out your financial goals? When was the last time you both read a good book on dealing with money in marriage and talked about how you could implement some changes? If you're like most couples, it's been a long time … if ever.

Take stock of where you are. List your income and all your debts. Then talk about where you'd like to be in two, five, and ten years. Is saving for retirement a priority? If so, what percentage of your income needs to go there? What financial principles can you agree on? Core needs such as house payments and health care? Savings? Vacations? Tithing?

Many couples determine that any expenditure above a certain amount (such as $100) requires mutual agreement. When you know clearly what your budget is, then set up an allowance for each of you—that's separate money each of you can spend however you'd like. By implementing this simple step you and your mate can solve a lot of the problem.

Gary J. Oliver, Ph.D., co-author of Mad About Us: Moving from Anger to Intimacy with Your Mate (Bethany House), is executive director of The Center for Relationship Enrichment at John Brown University. www.liferelationships.com

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

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