What is the one absolutely necessary ingredient for a healthy marriage?
In fact, every other quality or characteristic we find in marriages that work can be present only if time is there first.
It takes time to get comfortable with each other. Certainly we never want to lose completely that sense of newness, of mystery, of excitement that was part of our dating and newlywed life together. Yet there is also a need to be relaxed, without pretense, be at home with each other.
It takes time to talk things through, clear up misunderstandings, negotiate conflict. Two people cannot live together for any length of time with any degree of intimacy without needing to talk, understand and even disagree.
And it takes time, as much time as we can possibly carve out of our too often hectic, even overwhelming, lives to be close. To be physically emotionally and spiritually intimate with another person requires that we make time together the first priority, not an afterthought or luxury.
I'm not going to pretend that finding time is anything but a difficult task.
In the marriage counseling I do, "not enough time" is always one of the top two or three challenges couples mention, as well as one of the characteristics of their lives that they find most difficult to change.
It takes time to carry on the day-to-day, often mundane but usually necessary, business of marriage and family life. Doing the laundry, paying the bills, cleaning up the rec room, shopping for groceries, going to two or three jobs and working long hours, not to mention the plague of kids' activities that consume so much of family life, all take up hours upon hours of our days and weeks.
Despite all this, our marriages still require -- and deserve -- significant time in our lives.
Perhaps in our wedding vows we ought to add a clause committing us simply to find time to be married. It's not too late to make that vow today.