Understand why you over-commit.
It's easy for us to tell you to just change and to stop putting your marriage last on your list in order to make more quality time for your partner. But that's really not going to work!
Many of us realize what we do and we sometimes even criticize and feel bad about ourselves, but we still don't do anything differently. Our relationship continues to starve and suffer.
Sit down and really think about your usual habits. When you get a call from your friend or a request from your boss or from someone else, what goes inside of you? What are your dominant thoughts?
For most of us, there's a fear of disappointing the other person or possibly even making him or her mad enough to punish or abandon us. Behind the impulse to please is a fear of what will happen if we say "No."
With kindness, try to understand what's behind your tendency to over-commit and learn from it. There could be a need of healing dealing with past experiences when you said "No."
Pause and count to 5.
Practice pausing before you say anything when you get a text, call or face-to-face request. If all you do is say to the other person,
"Please give me a moment," and then breathe and slowly count to 5, the intensity of your impulse will start to subside. You'll be freer to think about what you already have going on and whether or not this is something you really want and are able to do.
To pause may feel uncomfortable to you, so be prepared for that. The other person may misinterpret or feel put off when you respond differently than you usually do. If you choose, tell him or her that, "I'm practicing something new here so please be patient with me. I care about you and your request and want to be sure I am answering you with integrity."
Say "YES" to your marriage.
What you'll find is when you remind yourself to only say "yes" when you can do so with integrity, it's not such a struggle to bump your marriage back up to the top of your priority list. You don't have to give up your personal or career dreams either.
Talk with your spouse and come up with some doable (and enjoyable) agreements for how you two can regularly nourish your relationship. Get creative about this and be willing to re-commit to spending quality time together along the way.
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