One thing that the pastoral staff at my church always do is take one day a week (in their case it’s Mondays) as family day. In the busyness of full-time ministry, they ensure that they set aside weekly time for their spouses and children.
Although my husband and I work secular jobs, we found that we were spending our days off running errands, going out with people, and visiting relatives. So we decided to follow our pastors’ example by setting aside a day a week as “family day” – a day just for us.
What a difference this one day has made! Where before there was a lot of stress and tension in our family, we have seen it melt away completely over the last couple of months. Our marriage, which had been going through a bit of a rocky patch, is now better than ever. Our relationship with our daughter has changed and we have a lot more patience in dealing with the challenges of the toddler stage. We laugh together quite a bit these days. Our family life has been completely transformed.
Why is it important to set aside a day for family? Why can it make such a difference in the family dynamic?
God establishes the importance of family from the very beginning of creation, and it starts with the marriage relationship. He said, “It is not good for man to be alone; I will make a helper fit for him” (Genesis 2:18). After creating the world, the next thing that God did was create the first marriage. This clearly shows the importance He places on the husband-wife relationship.
Bill Hanawalt, pastor of the Vineyard Christian Church in Evanston Illinois, says, “Marriage without friendship cannot work in our culture.” The key to establishing a strong friendship with your spouse is to spend time together pursuing common interests. Family day (not to be a substitute for date night, which is another topic for another time) is one way to pursue those common interests. This will help to solidify your relationship.
After creating Adam and Eve, God went on to command them to “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28). Families have been an important part of God’s plan since the beginning of time. But it goes one step further than just having a family. In Deuteronomy, the Bible says, “These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7). How can you teach your children if you do not spend time together? God does not suggest that we spend time with our children. He commands it.
In his article “Family Time and Relationships” (Focus on the Family Magazine, February 2008), Jim Burns says that “…a strong family identity also helps children develop a strong and healthy self-identity.” He goes on to say, “Children regard your presence as a sign of care and connectedness.” Spending time together creates a healthy family environment in which children thrive because they have the security of knowing that they are loved.
I’ve learned from personal experience that family time should not consist of what “leftovers” you have after fulfilling your other obligations. It should be a priority in your life. If you are unable to take a day a week to spend together, then schedule a day every two weeks or once a month. The important thing is that it is consistent so that your children know to expect it and can build up a sense of anticipation for it. If you’re anything like me, you’ll also find yourself counting down the days in between.
Don’t underestimate the value of taking a day to relax and have fun together as a family. Family time helps strengthen your marriage and creates an environment in which your children can flourish. In our experience, the difference it has made in the way we relate to one another is incredible.