Our Time, My Time
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“Our Time, My Time,” Ensign, Dec. 1982, 19

Our Time, My Time

Husbands and wives can help each other find the time for personal interests.

With the demands of life looming on all sides, husbands and wives sometimes feel boxed in. Where can they possibly carve out a moment for each other and for themselves?

As a couple, we feel that one of the most important things we can do in our marriage is to nurture each other’s personal development. One of the best ways to do that is to give each other the gift of time. This we do by establishing a weekly tradition of “together hours” and “alone hours.” These hours are reserved in advance; other commitments must be scheduled around them.

During our “together hours,” we do things both of us enjoy. We go on dates, work on projects together, or have discussion periods. We talk about our long- and short-term goals, exchange ideas and opinions, and offer help and suggestions on personal or joint projects.

The “alone hours” are times we spend individually while the other person shares the evening with the children. We can use this time to work on a talent or hobby, catch up on reading, or do whatever else we would like. We give each other “alone hours” every week, even if the specific time may have to be changed when complications arise.

An important element of our “alone hours” is that we are not to feel guilty. We know that it’s not a sign of failure in our marriage if we enjoy spending some time alone; instead, we see it as evidence of the security we feel in our relationship. We feel that as we take time for ourselves—time to meditate, to create, to explore an undeveloped talent—we will each become individuals with unique characteristics and will also be able to contribute more meaningfully to our marriage.

Karen: Our lives can easily become consumed with many responsibilities. At the end of the day, we may not feel like doing much else. I encouraged my husband to define and pursue a hobby of some sort. He decided to take a pottery class at the university, was quite successful at it, and found it to be relaxing after a tense day. It gave him a chance to be creative. We have used his pottery to decorate our home and have given it as gifts to friends; we have sold some to make extra money for special family outings.

Kelly: I enjoy helping Karen have free time each week, too. I want her to have a break from the pressures of housework and raising our small children. And I enjoy being alone with the children during that time. I’ve developed a closer relationship with them and have learned to appreciate what Karen experiences while I’m gone all day.

I’ve learned, too, that it’s important to support her own choices of how to spend her time, without pressuring her to select hobbies I think she should pursue.

I’m especially grateful that we realized how important it would be to us both for her to finish college. When Karen began her senior year at the university, she was three months into the pregnancy of our first child and experiencing sickness and fatigue. We knew it would be difficult for her to continue her studies, but we were both determined that she not give up. By my doing extra work around the house and helping to tend our baby after she was born in the spring, we were able to get through it together. That warm June morning my wife was radiant in her cap and gown, and I thought how blessed I was to have been a part of this proud achievement in her life.

We can help or hinder each other’s personal progress simply by our attitude. It is easy to be selfish, to feel that our own activities are more important. But the Christlike thing to do is to make each other’s feelings and goals as great a priority as our own.

Let’s Talk About It

After reading “Our Time, My Time” together or individually, you may wish to discuss some of the following items:

1. Discuss the role individual progression can play in the unity of a marriage.

2. What benefits could “alone hours” have in your own marriage?

3. Discuss projects, hobbies, or talents you would like to work on individually during “alone hours” and jointly during “together hours.”

  • Karen A. Packer teaches Sunday School, and Kelly M. Packer, a media training coordinator, serves as Young Men president in their Sheridan, Wyoming, ward. They are the parents of three children.

Photography by Eldon K. Linschoten