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1 easy way to create momentum in your marriage.

(This is a guest post from my wife Jenny. Follow her on Twitter for more awesomeness!)

This is going to surprise you, but Jon and I don’t have the same exact interests. Shocking, right? Case in point, exercise. He likes to go to the gym and I like to power walk with friends. In the past, that might have been a division moment for us. He’s headed in one direction and I’m headed in another.

What we’ve learned though is that even as we work on different things, there is a simple way to create momentum in our marriage. I call it “the art of starting together.”

Let’s continue with the exercise example. My favorite time to walk with my friend Emily is early in the morning before the rest of the world wakes up. I get out of bed at 5:45AM and head out the door. Jon used to sleep while I did this, but then we discovered that if we start together even as we do different things, there is some momentum. Now, when I get up, Jon gets up too. He doesn’t walk with me, someone needs to be home for the kids, but he uses the time to write. This simple trick of using my exercise schedule as motivation gives him hours of uninterrupted writing time. More than that, it put us on the same schedule. If I get up early and need a quick nap on a Sunday afternoon, Jon will need one too since he got up early with me. If I get up early and want to go to bed early that night Jon will too if we’re on the same page. Momentum in a marriage doesn’t happen by accident. It takes big decisions and tiny actions too.

Is it a huge thing in our marriage? Maybe not, but starting together gives our day a much greater chance of actually ending together.

And that matters to me as the spouse of a dreamer.

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Jon Acuff
Jon Acuff

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52 Comments

  1. Great idea Jenny! How about ending the day together as well? My wife tends to stay up much later than I. We find we sleep better when we end the day at the same time.

  2. Very cool. I’m a morning person, too, although I’m pretty sure my wife would poke me in the throat if I tried waking her up at 4:30 when I got up… figuratively speaking, of course. I got rid of all the pokey stuff in our bedroom. :)

    Point well taken though! And we do use a similar technique on weekends in particular.

  3. I totally agree. The mornings when my wife and I wake up at 5 together are the best days. She gets ready for work and I will work on my photographs or write. But we both agree we love being up and progressing at the same time even if it’s on different things.

  4. My wife is parallel at the beginning of my day. When I’m up reading & writing & studying, she is parallel in the bed. :)

    But I can’t blame her. She homeschools our 3 kids, and then is full-go the rest of the day, especially serving others. We get to be “parallel” at other points through the week, and we also have the complete blessing to serve together in a lot of things (after school programs, day camps, etc).

    My son noticed this when I worked (and she volunteered) for the Boys & Girls Club. He said, “We’re the only kids here whose family is together every day.” Again, it was such a blessing for us (http://missionallendale.wordpress.com/2011/11/04/the-best-part-of-my-job/).

    • That is awesome! Your kids will appreciate that even more down the road :)
      We never had much growing up. Hand me downs, shared a room, not much by ways of gifts at Christmas and birthdays, but mom stayed home and homeschooled and read the Word to us daily. That is worth more than anything!

      • People say that they’ll appreciate it, but we never really know, do we? That’s why I’m thankful for testimonies like yours. Thanks for your encouragement!

  5. “the art of starting parallel” What a great idea Jenny. Its all about momentum.

  6. I love the idea of working parallel! Except maybe not at 5:45… although my husband’s a morning person, sleeping is the only thing I can do that early.

    Maybe we could work on projects while I’m up 3x a night with kiddo :)

    We’ve found it helpful to split up tasks where we each have different strengths so we’re working on the same project but from different angels. We recently published a book… (http://www.biblecharactersforadvent.com/) He would wake up early and listen to podcasts while drawing the illustrations. Then I would stay up into the wee hours of the night “coloring” those illustrations while watching movies :)

    Together we were able to accomplish our dream and publish a book! Obviously there was a lot of time we spent together working, but it also allowed up to be united in purpose when we split up to work.

  7. Great post Jenny. My wife and I have found the same thing to be true in our marriage. What I love is the intentionality here by you and Jon. That creates momentum in marriage by itself focusing on it:) Blessings guys.

  8. Great thoughts. It’s so important to talk through ideas together and find what works for you as a couple. I love how you both always model teamwork and partnership. It’s so important!

  9. Love this, Jenny. We live in Seattle, and my husband usually has to commute to Boston. Eh, it’s a living. On the weekends and those few weeks that he works from home, he tries to keep his body on East Coast time because…constant jet lag. So, I’ve been *trying* to get up with him, starting my day when he does, and more importantly, be understanding when he loses momentum at 8:30 or 9 pm.

    • Lori Reply

      My husband worked afternoons for three years. With seven children, I needed to find a way to get all us living on a parallel schedule. We adjusted our schedule to meet his. No one was allowed to get up before 9:30. We woke up and had family time until dinner at 3:30. My husband went to work and our children played with their friends. In the evening, we would work on “schoolwork,” while we recorded whatever shows the kids wanted to watch. They were allowed to go to bed at 10:30, but lights out was at midnight, with their dad coming home at 1am. This gave me a quiet hour as well. Some of our children’s best memories are from that time period.

      • I love your family’s creativity to make family time a priority! Awesome! Out of curiosity, what ages were your kiddos?

      • Love this! We also have seven kiddos, home school, and my husband’s schedule changes every couple of years. As they children get older and involved in different activities, competitions, etc., parallel is more difficult to get to. And *I’m* the dreamer! I stay up late at night to chat with Jesus, write, research, and…Pintrest! My husband currently is up at 4 am for scheduled 12 hr workdays. We meet about once a week to make sure our journey to the goals we set is still parallel. It’s interesting how our margin and our parallel changes over the years. I hope other couples find their parallel, too!

  10. Mary Reply

    I love this! I get up when my husband gets ready for work early, even though I technically don’t need to. I just want to see him off before my day begins with the kids. I use that time to read my Bible usually. Didn’t really think it meant much, but starting parallel? Yes, I like the term. Excellent marriage advice!

  11. This is so helpful! My dreamer husband is a bit of a nightowl and I’ve been trying to stay up late with him while he hustles; it’s hard to explain but it helps me feel more invested in what he’s doing if I sit on the couch and read (or even doze off) while he’s hustling rather than going upstairs and being alone. Anyway, I love your idea of intentionally staying parallel, even though right now it seems like we have to end, rather than start, parallel. :-)

  12. If I told my wife that we were going to begin applying “art of starting parallel” in the mornings, I am pretty sure she would think I had an “ulterior motive”…. and she might be right.

  13. I love this and couldn’t agree more. In fact, this “starting parallel” idea really came to fruition earlier this week for us. My husband and I have both worked out of the home since the start of our marriage – me being self-employed and him being employed remotely. Well, his job was recently eliminated, but he started a new one this week which requires him to go into the office for most of the week. I’ve always been an early riser, so I’m usually up by 6am or 6:15am to start my day…whereas he would sleep in until 7am or 7:30am…since his previous employer was in a different time zone…and he didn’t have an overly structured schedule. Now he’s having to wake up by 6am to be in the office on time and I love it. :) We start our days by enjoying breakfast together. While I do miss him being home during the day…I find it MUCH easier to spring out of bed and get into my day now that he’s already up and out of bed too. Thanks for sharing Jenny and Jon!

  14. Excellent thoughts. Sometimes solutions and improvements are so subtle. Thank you!

  15. Great post Jenny! I get up at 4:30 in the morning to work out on my treadmill and while my husband does not write, he does get up (an hour later) and read his bible, something he is actively working on like I am working on my health. Thank you for a unique perspective on not having to be the couple that “runs together” “stays together” :-)

  16. Paul Pennington Reply

    I get up before my family in the morning and I have to say that I really like my few moments of alone time.

    • Pam Reply

      I think that the important point is being intentional in having times of connection. My husband has a job that requires a lot of interaction with people and needs some alone time to recharge. I need more sleep than he does so we aren’t always parallel in our sleep schedule but we have a breakfast date every Saturday morning and Sunday we serve together at church. It has worked so far as we are going to celebrate 37 years of marriage this year -mostly though because I am married to an amazingly patient man. I love hearing that couples are working on making strong marriages!

  17. Fabulous idea Jenny and a good way to work and dream together!

  18. My wife and I have made it a priority to stop focusing on what we did in the past, and stop promising to do something better in the future, and start living in the NOW. Waking up together is living in the now. LOVE IT.

  19. Jenny,

    It is wonderful hearing from you!! I’d love to see more post from you! Even though my husband and I are both dreamers… we dying to get your book!

  20. Great stuff! Great idea! The challenge of making ‘contact’ …

  21. Love it. My wife and I do things in parallel too although, I really never realized that we did until reading this. Kind of just happened over time… by the way, we have an AMAZING marriage so perhaps there is indeed something to alignment… : )

  22. What is the back story of starting parallel? What were the discussions like to get this going?

  23. Great thought! Can not wait for your book!

  24. Jenny it is so good to hear from you! What a great idea! I’m going to try it!

  25. LadyTam Reply

    Not sure I’d be able to make myself get up at 5:30 in the morning. But I blame the meds. lol

  26. Brandon Antoskow Reply

    I’m reading this as I’m starting my workshift at the hospital this morning, and it’s exactly what I needed to read. What an excellent idea! A simple, yet clearly effective way to build a healthy foundation for the day. This will be something I share with my fiance when I get home this evening, as we are in the process of seeking new ways to improve our relationship and adapt to both of our hectic schedules, Thanks for sharing Jenny, really looking forward to reading your book!

  27. As an about to be wed couple I know my fiancee and I have struggled quite a bit with where to part and how much time is okay to spend together. It takes quite awhile to learn to get the schedule thing right, especially for two people with untraditional jobs. It’s quite easy when you both work 40 hours per week, but when you don’t it makes things tricky.

  28. My husband and I have found “starting parallel” to be helpful, too. We both get up at about the same time every morning. While he showers, dresses, and has breakfast, I wake up our second-grader, put her breakfast on the table, and make lunches for both of them. This enables my husband to drive our daughter to school every morning – very important time for them, since he often doesn’t get home until after she’s already in bed. Once they’re out the door, I get ready for “my” day (I’m a work-from-home writer). And we’ve made the same discovery the Acuffs have: when we get up at the same time in the morning, we’re more likely to go to bed at the same time at night. It’s a bit hard for my husband, who’s a night owl, but he considers it a worthwhile tradeoff for the quality time he gains with me and our daughter.

  29. Laura Calbert Reply

    That’s my girl! One smart cookie.

  30. ashley Reply

    Jenny you are so smart!

  31. Mireya Reply

    It’s true! My husband and I have only been married for a year, but we have started starting our days together. He stays up late and sleeps in later than I do. For work he gets up earlier than I have to, which usually wakes me up too, so we can at least see each other and speak words to each other. On the weekends, though, while he sleeps in, I use the time to get online and rest before we launch into our weekend.

  32. Leslie Reply

    Great idea
    My challenge is building better relation with my husband who works night shift so we are opposite on everything :(

  33. I got nervous there for a minute that we had to parallel park. Whew! Actually, I like the idea of working parallel. Doesn’t happen at our house in the morning as I refuse to get up at 3:30 am and trust me, my husband doesn’t want me, too! The wicked witch of the West would have nothing on me, but we do try to always try to have supper together and go to bed together. I think it keeps us on the same playing field. Successful marriages need more press. :)

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  36. This is great. I have noticed that when my wife and I wake up at the same time and have breakfast/get ready for the day, there is a palatable synergy. We haven’t done that intentionally and it only happens a couple times a week (she likes to sleep whenever she can). I’ll show her this post and see what she thinks.

    Thanks for sharing what marriage success can look like.

    Keep up all the amazing work you Acuffs do!

  37. One of the reasons my ex is my ex is that I was a night owl, he a morning person (5AM).

    He would poke me.

    I would wake up angry and mad at him and out-of-sorts all day.

    With my husband now, we are similar creatures. Waking and sleeping about the same time.

    Although, adter church “treats” he naps and I read, write or watch Project Runway…

    Nick is right-no pokey things in the bedroom. Wise.

  38. Jason Korn Reply

    Great post Jenny, I appreciate you for sharing. My wife and I have almost the exact same situation. I’ve never thought of it before until your post but, getting up & going to bed together has definitely had a positive influence on our marriage.

    Thanks again for sharing. Oh and… Good morning to you both. :)

  39. I can relate – I love to start the day with my husband! Although I work in a job in the afternoon, I get up at the same time as him (6:15) and use the time in the morning writing, doing marketing, blogging, organizing etc. When I think about it, I guess it gives us a feeling of “together” :-)