The marriage benefits of margin

Multnomah Falls © Paul H. Byerly

I’m about half way through the book Margin now, and I can promise you are going to be hearing a lot about this idea from me. In fact, I just added a “Margin” category on the blog.

This is not a new idea to me – I have written about busyness and being too tired regularly. The book puts all this into an easy to describe and easy to discuss package, complete with a simple term describing the need.

Fortunately, for my bride and myself, I have not just written about this issue over the years; I was working on making more margin in my life even before I had a word for it.

Let me share something from yesterday that shows how important margin can be to a marriage. The images accompany this post are of Multnomah Falls – one of the most stunning waterfalls in the USofA. We have driven by the falls dozens of times since moving to the Northwest, but we have only stopped twice. I always want to stop, but it is in the middle of a 6 to 9 hour drive (depending on where we went) and we usually just do not have time. I have always prided myself on being able to schedule things with great precision, which means an added stop just is not an option. This time, however, I built margin into our trip to the Oregon coast.

Multnomah Falls © Paul H. Byerly

On the trip down the margin kept us from being late for a dinner meeting when a rock clearing crew shut down the road for a while. It was nice not having to call our friend and tell him we would be late, blaming it on “unforeseen road work”. Yes, it was unforeseen, but it was easily covered by the margin we built-in.

Margin was an even greater gift on the return trip. My bride mentioned she would like to stop at Multnomah Falls, and since we had margin I was able to say yes without a second thought, and without getting uptight about our timetable. We stopped, walked around, got some pictures, decided they wanted way too much for ice cream, and went on our way. As we continued home, I learned my bride enjoys the falls a great deal, and had felt bad we kept zooming by because “we just don’t have time.” She told me my adding margin has meant I am able to say yes to what she wants more often. She also said she was asking for more, because she did not have to worry I would be upset or I would just blow her off because of time issues. I feel bad learning my planning down to the minute has robbed her of things she wanted to do, and kept her from even asking. It felt really good to know both of those things will be less common if I keep putting more margin in my life.

What might change in your marriage if you had more margin? Would one or both of you be more relaxed? Would you do more things you both enjoy? Would there be less frustration, maybe fewer unkind words? Margin can do a great deal for your marriage; start adding some margin today.

In this series: 
The marriage benefits of margin  
Margin gives you time to be loving 
Meet me at the fire pit 
Margin and sex 
If I had more time … 

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5 Comments on “The marriage benefits of margin

  1. Great post Paul! Margin is something I’ve been trying to create more of in my life as well. I can relate to our tendency towards crankiness or irritability when we’re on a tight schedule or trying to cram too much into a day. Uughh…not something I want to be known for in my marriage or family :)

  2. Your thoughts on creating margin really struck a chord with me. I am almost always maxed out and rarely include margin in my thinking. I am quite certain there would be more peace and joy in my household if we could learn to live with more margin.

  3. Thanks for sharing this. I have been thinking quite a bit about margins lately and plan to write about it soon. My husband is actually quite good about establishing margins, so I am learning from him! It just makes tremendous good sense to allow some flexibility in life in order to deal with emergencies, meet people’s needs, or simply enjoy your spouse or family.

  4. Pingback: Margins – Sharing « Re-load

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