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Newlywed Diary Part I: Managing Energy

“Newlywed Diary” posts are going to be Andrew’s personal reflections on married life, descriptions of what it’s like to be a newlywed, and anything else random he may be thinking and learning about at the moment.

Anyone who knows me in real life should know that I journal. A lot. I got roasted for this at my wedding, but rather than be embarrassed, I decided to embrace it. Apparently it’s been part of my identity for a long while.

young andrew with diary
Me at 6 years old, my first “diary”
fourth grade andrew journaling on a log
Journaling at a Boy Scout Camp when I was 10 years old

If you’re new here to AAAC, I’m pretty excited about starting this new joint blog with my cousin Laura. I even have some dreams for how it could evolve. Mostly though, I want it to be a sweet spot between something that I enjoy doing, because I like writing and reflecting and sharing thoughts, as well as something that helps or gives value to others.

We are going to use the #resource category to designate posts that are about sharing podcasts, sermons, or other helpful resources from others! Check out our recent posts, one from John Mark Comer and one from Erwin McManus. This post is going to expand on some of my personal thoughts around the podcast on managing energy, especially in the context of learning to be a newlywed. Warning! It may be more meandering than most of my posts.

Realization 1: marriage takes energy…

man in black long sleeved shirt and woman in black dress

Merging lives isn’t easy. To say the least. Someone said this to me in a more eloquent way, but marriage is a “school.” It’s a school for things like greater love, commitment, and increasing selflessness. As a newlywed, all of a sudden, you are constantly aware of another person. The simplest life tasks like waking up, going to sleep, and eating food suddenly become more complicated as you adjust to someone else’s pattern and habits. Figuring out which behaviors to keep the same and which routines to start afresh together in marriage takes a lot of energy, mental capacity, and communication.There’s a sense of “trial and error.” It’s also inevitable that the two partners in a marriage will also have different energy levels throughout the day. Certain activities might be energizing to one person but draining to the other. Marriage has been full of compromise and figuring out the “net-gain” things from the perspective of two rather than one.

Realization 2: manage my energy, not my time

photo of person holding alarm clock

I’ve had a lot of time the past recently on what things give me energy and what things drain me of energy. I’ve learned that things like exercise or mentally stimulating activities (deeper conversations, board games, interesting movies) really give me energy. Sitting on the couch for too long actually makes me feel more tired. Working from home for the past year has shown me that I can get more work done in 1 hour of energized, productive effort, than 10 hours of distracted multi-tasking.

I’ve realized that managing my energy, not my time, is also especially important in marriage. I can always make and prioritize time, but I can’t always control my energy levels. And now, my mood and energy now have direct and tangible impact on another human being. We’ve all heard the phrase, “quality time,” but what about “quality energy?” Setting aside time is one thing, but setting aside mental or emotional distractions is a whole other thing. I’m learning to manage not just the time for a date or a meal but also the time around the time. I need to prioritize things like rest, exercise, and healthy eating, as well as mental separation from work. As an introvert, I need to learn to give myself enough alone time so that I can have the full relational energy I want to give when I interact with others.

Realization 3: reframing work as “giving” energy

selective focus photography cement

Work can be utterly draining sometimes. Work is work. But I’ve found that work can also be energizing and really life-giving at other times. Giving your energy to something you care about and enjoy doing is extremely fulfilling.

I remember my first nine months working at Dayspring Partners, the software consulting company I’m working on now. We try to live out a Christian witness and presence to our neighborhood specifically as a business. But we also toil in our work. I remember though, the first project I was assigned to, I was so motivated by the project and by the prospect of “helping out the team effort” (our leadership was stressed) that I literally looked forward to Mondays. I went to bed excited on Sunday nights because I was anticipating the fulfillment and energy I would get from waking up early and having an entire day to spend on this particular task or next phase in the project.

I know that not all work is like that.

But, how much of our dread for work is our attitude towards work versus the work itself? I thought that Erwin McManus had a great thought from his podcast. Most people think of the work week as slogging through 5 days of work in order to enjoy 2 days of weekend. What if we flipped the script? What if instead, we saw the week as focusing 2 days on rest in order to fully enjoy the next 5 days of work?

Maybe work on this side of heaven will always be tiresome. There are a lot of systemic factors keeping people from being able to pursue or sustain doing fulfilling, energizing work. But it’s such a big part of our lives, I think it’s worth thinking about.

Well, that’s it for this week. If you enjoyed musings and reflections like this, join the newsletter for email updates on new posts! Stick around and leave a comment with any of your thoughts. -A

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