When Schedules Collide
By Jennifer Waddle
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken. - Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
For the last 28 years, my husband has been a shift worker, which means he has worked a lot of holidays and weekends. The number of missed birthdays, Christmases, and important events have really added up. And in the early years of our marriage, we had many serious discussions about his schedule that went something like this:
Me: Why didn’t you put in for vacation this Christmas?
Him: If I put in for vacation, someone else would have had to work that shift—on Christmas. Is that what you want?
Me: Aren’t we, your family, more of a priority than work?
Him: Yes, but this is what my job requires. We both knew I would sometimes miss important events when I accepted this job.
When schedules collide, couples have one of two choices. They can accept the schedule and work it out for the good of the marriage, or they can look for new employment that has a more favorable schedule.
For us, I finally had to reach a point where I accepted my husband’s work schedule. Once I realized how much he valued his job, and wanted to remain a shift worker, I began creatively planning events around his time off—even if that meant celebrating holidays on different days than the rest of the world.
Once I started working with his schedule, instead of against it, no longer did I feel a sense of collision every time an important event came around.
Sure, my husband still misses his share of celebrations, but no longer is he pressured by me. I’ve made a real effort to support his work, knowing he likes his job. In fact, I’ve begun focusing on a heart of gratefulness instead of a habit of grumbling. Here are a few examples:
- Instead of being upset about him missing a holiday, I thank God for the opportunity to celebrate together on a different day.
- Instead of being frustrated that he works many nights and weekends, I thank the Lord that he has a steady job that provides for our family.
- Instead of making my husband feel guilty for being a shift worker, I thank him for working so hard without complaint.
If schedules are colliding in your marriage, there are several things you can do to work in tandem instead of opposition.
1. Have a heart-to-heart conversation.
When struggling with conflicting schedules, sit down and have a heart-to-heart conversation. It could be that one or both of you need to find other employment. Or, you might just need to come up with a plan on how to navigate your current schedules. Pray together for wisdom and discuss ways to make your schedules work.
2. Commit to remaining flexible.
Flexibility is key in managing your family schedules. Once you give up the idea that every holiday MUST be celebrated on the exact day, you can actually plan for a wonderful celebration with family and friends on a different day. The most important thing is that you are together and enjoying the time you’ve been given.
3. Be thankful.
Most of all, ask the Lord for a heart of thanksgiving for your spouse and your work schedules. Even if you feel called to look for something else, you can thank Him for leading you in the way you should go.
As Ecclesiastes 4:12 says, “a threefold cord is not quickly broken,” be sure to work together with God and your spouse. Together, you’ll find a way to overcome any collisions in your schedules and your marriage.
Jennifer Waddle considers herself a Kansas girl, married to a Colorado hunk, with a heart to encourage women everywhere. She is the author of several books, including Prayer WORRIER: Turning Every Worry into Powerful Prayer, and is a regular contributor for LifeWay, Crosswalk, Abide, and Christians Care International. Jennifer’s online ministry is EncouragementMama.com where you can find her books and sign up for her weekly post, Discouragement Doesn’t Win. She resides with her family near the foothills of the Rocky Mountains—her favorite place on earth.
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