Purpose, Real Couples, Time

Observing Sabbath is a Marriage Game-Changer

silhouette of plant during sunset

My husband and I are two very different people. I love to-do lists, house projects, and feeling “accomplished” and “productive.” My husband loves to relax and enjoy the many, many ways God has blessed us. 

To complicate things, my husband works full-time and I stay home with our two young kids full-time. I often feel frustrated because I never seem to get enough done. My husband feels frustrated that he gets so little downtime. We were growing more and more frustrated with life and with each other.

Then we began observing Sabbath.

Through the boundary of Sabbath, we’ve found a rhythm of work and rest that’s clearly articulated and understood by both of us. It’s been a game changer. 

God knew what He was doing when He instituted the Sabbath. We’ve found that blessings abound when we bring ourselves in-line with His very good design.

What is Sabbath and why does it matter?

In Exodus 20:8-11, God says— 

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”

It’s worth mentioning that this is the longest of the ten commandments.

I highly recommend John Mark Comer’s book The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry and Tim Keller’s book Every Good Endeavor for further reading on this subject. Seriously— they’re both so wise and what I’m about to say really won’t do the subject justice, but I’ll try.

The crux of it is this: God designed us to thrive in a cycle of working and resting. Six days of work, one day of rest. It’s not an arbitrary command— it’s how he made the universe and how he designed us to function. 

It’s in our DNA. We’re wired for this. 

When we ignore or try to subvert the practice of Sabbath— we’re really just damaging ourselves. It’s kind of like eating crap food. You’re not doing yourself any favors by binging on Taco Bell and ice cream. And if you do it for long enough, the consequences can be fatal.

The fruit of not observing Sabbath

The problem is that we do not live in a world or culture that observes the Sabbath or values a rhythm of working and resting. On one end, we have workaholics. On the other end we have lazy bums. And there’s a whole spectrum in between.

Think about some of the problems plaguing our society today: depression, anxiety, stress to the max. How many of these things come down to a disordered relationship with working and resting?

In our home, I err on the side of workaholism. My husband errs on the side of lazy-bum-ism. Neither is good. God’s design is for us to work hard for six days and rest hard for one day.

We were beginning to live in a state of chronic frustration with one another. I always wanted more— Andrew always wanted less. I began to see him as lazy. He began to see me as a crazy person. 

Sabbath gives clear expectations for our time

When we began to observe Sabbath, however, we suddenly had very clear expectations for our time. I now know I can count on and ask for “work” six days a week. Andrew knows that for a full 24-hour period, we will rest. 

Honestly? I STRUGGLE during the 24-hour period of Sabbath. I get bored and I feel restless. My eyebrow may or may not develop a twitch as I try not to stare at unfinished projects. 

Similarly, Andrew doesn’t LOVE coming home from work, helping with dinner and dishes, putting the kids down, and falling in bed exhausted most nights. 

But Sabbath— this rhythm of working and resting— is a practice. As in, it’s something we practice and get better at over time.

Andrew and I are different people. On different ends of the spectrum. We have different predispositions for sin. But Sabbath is helping us see where we need to fight:

I need to fight to slow down, to be still. To do less. I fight to enjoy what God has given me— blessings upon blessings!— with a heart of thanksgiving.

Andrew fights to be a good steward of his time. To work hard, to love and serve his family, to be sacrificial.

Life to the full

I used to expect our entire weekend to be devoted to house projects. My husband used to expect the entire weekend to be devoted to relaxing. That doesn’t happen anymore. And we’re butting heads a lot less (in this particular area).

Through Sabbath, we’ve implemented clear boundaries on our time. Six days on, one day off. 

Sabbath pulls us both to the middle of the spectrum— toward balance and health. Remember Jesus’s words in John 10:10?

“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

Jesus rescues us with his life, death, and resurrection— and he gives us new eyes to see that Sabbath isn’t obsolete, arbitrary or burdensome. Sabbath is a life-giving delight.

Have you heard of the The 31-Day Pursuit Challenge?

Every marriage begins with passion, purpose, and pursuit, but few stay that way. That’s why we wrote Husband in Pursuit and Wife in Pursuit Together, they make what we’re calling the 31-Day Pursuit Challenge. Couples are encouraged take the challenge together. We’re already starting to hear stories of transformed marriages! Are you up for the challenge?

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