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For Your Marriage

Meet Sara and Justin. They married in June 2011, they welcomed their first child in August 2012.

Saying “No” to Good Things

Sara: There are fewer things in life that I like better than saying yes to good things. In fact, I hate to say no! One of the things I like most about being a stay-at-home mom is my ability to say yes to so many different things. I can say yes to play dates, yes to a slightly later bedtime for Gus, and yes when Justin wants me to cook him his favorite meal even if takes just a bit longer to prepare.

However, as good as it is to be able to say yes, I’m also learning that it’s important to be able to say no.

For instance, this weekend, I/we were invited to Justin’s faculty social, one baby shower, one potluck, two birthday parties, and one dinner in the span of forty-eight hours. On top of that, Justin and I needed to finish picking out our new bed in order to get in on a super-sale. We had planned to do it earlier in the week, but Justin got sick.

When I realized how many activities I had booked for us, I thought, “Yikes!”

Unfortunately, overextending our family has become a habit. For the past couple of weeks, we’ve had people over to dinner twice a week. Now that Justin is teaching again, that’s too much. I think I have managed to overextend our family because I had forgotten that our fall schedule is much more rigid than our summer schedule. Also, planning fun things gives me a sense of purpose as I stay at home.

As a family, we need to prioritize what’s important to us – and I thought we had. God (which includes prayer time and Sunday Mass) is most important, followed by family, and then friends.

Justin: Spending time with friends is a wonderful thing and can be extremely rejuvenating. However, we must be careful not to let it get out of balance. I find that I have a limited amount of energy for investing in others. While I had a great time this weekend, I have little or no energy for Sara or Gus today.

It is easy to let good things get in the way of better things. It is so common in our fast-food culture. We put all our energy into work, hobbies, sports, etc. and have no time to sit down for a family dinner and no energy to share our lives with one another.

Sara: I’m learning I need to say no to good things, like the potluck with friends, so that we can be more fully present (and more fully rested) in each moment. I need to learn how to say no to good things so I can say yes to even better things.

It’s easy to forget that my primary responsibility is simply to be available to Gus and to teach him how to know and love God. While all of the previously mentioned good things individually might help Justin and me in that quest, ultimately we have to find the right balance so we’re able to enjoy all the little moments God has blessed us with.