Managing Time as a Married Couple
Myrtle Alegado: With the many demands on our daily lives, newly married couples struggle in balancing their time between work, daily tasks, and other obligations. When we find ourselves very busy, is it still a reasonable goal to achieve work-life balance?
Today on the show, we’ll chat with a newlywed couple from Burlingame, California, to talk about how they make time for each other despite their busy schedules, while still prioritizing what truly matters in their relationship.
Welcome to Happy Life, a podcast brought to you by INC Media Audio that aims to help newlyweds navigate through the first years of marriage. I’m your host, Myrtle Alegado, and I’ve been married to my husband, Paul, since 1999. Later, we’ll hear some Bible-based advice through Brother Felmar Serreno, a minister of the gospel in the Church Of Christ.
Inspiration to make your marriage thrive, you’re listening to Happy Life
Myrtle: On Happy Life today, I’d like to welcome Paolo & Rachelle from Burlingame, California, and they’ve been married since August of 2021.
Hey there, Paolo & Rachelle! Thanks so much for agreeing to chat with us today.
Rachelle de Dios: Hi!
Paolo de Dios: Hello!
Myrtle: How are you both doing?
Rachelle: We’re good. Happy to be here.
Myrtle: Oh, well, we’re so glad you joined us. Can you tell us a little bit about yourselves and how you both met?
Paolo: Sure. Rachelle and I, we first met at a Church activity. It was August 2018, and it was a career fair for the Kadiwa [youth in the Church Of Christ aged 18 and up who are unmarried] members. She had just moved from Detroit about a month before that, and, you know, I’m sure she was still learning a lot about the new areas and things like that. Maybe it was coincidence, but yeah, we met through that activity and just kind of went from it.
Rachelle: Yeah, I was new, moving to California. So I was just kind of nervous about everything. But I remember when we were going through some of the notes for this career fair, I was like, “Oh, Paolo’s kind of cute.” I actually knew what to do with all the instructions of this career fair, but I pretended to not know much. So, I was messaging him like, “What are we supposed to wear? What do you mean for this job thing? What do we do?” I kind of just initiated the chatting.
Myrtle: Look at you being sneaky! Way to go for what you want. [laughs]
Myrtle: Did you know that she already knew the answers, Paolo, but messaged you on the side just to have an excuse, I guess, to talk to you? Did you know that?
Paolo: Honestly, no. I think when she was messaging me, I thought, like, “Wow, I can really impress her.” You know, “I can tell her exactly what we need to do here. She needs my help.” You know, “I’m going to be that person to support her in her time of need.” But you know, she’s smart.
Myrtle: But how long were you two talking before things became serious, and then when did you get engaged, and finally married? Rachelle: I want to say talking for about three or four months, and then when we got engaged, a year and a half to two years. That’s when we got engaged.
Myrtle: So today we’re discussing managing time wisely, and for newlywed couples, I’m sure you can very much relate to that because both of you are working. Can you tell us about your careers?
Rachelle: Yeah, so I am the head of strategy. I work in a neurotechnology clinic in Silicon Valley. I work with a lot of different technologies for health, whether it’s brain map scanning, or we’re creating products for speech, or language, or learning, or disabilities, or head trauma. I work on the projects that are involved in that.
Myrtle: It sounds pretty intense.
Rachelle: Yeah, it sounds a lot cooler than I think it is.
Myrtle: Oh [laughs]. And then, Paolo, yourself? Paolo: I’m a marketing manager and business analyst. So you know, I help different companies kind of build their communication and advertising. In a simple way, I spend their money to sell more things. So kind of a simple job.
Myrtle: Well, it definitely sounds like you both have pretty busy schedules. What does your typical workday look like?
Rachelle: So, we both work from home and we have a sweet little rescue dog that is about 10 months old now. Yeah, it’s a lot of meetings. It’s a lot of back to back meetings on Zoom. And it’s a lot of taking care of Ollie (the rescue dog).
Myrtle: You know, that’s your home and that’s your office, so you’re pretty much together all the time. What do you find most challenging about coordinating your schedules, even though you see each other all the time?
Rachelle: I think the most challenging thing about coordinating our schedules is that we don’t really know what’s going to happen throughout the day. So, every week is different, every day is different. Sometimes I’ll have a meeting, and then we’ll have a meeting at the same time, and then we have Ollie who wants to go out. Or sometimes the days are a little bit longer than we expected, and those get kind of tricky. That’s usually what’s challenging about coordinating our schedules.
So, we’ll try to figure it out as we go. Sometimes one of us will work while the other takes Ollie out. Or sometimes, actually most of the time, Paulo takes Ollie out in the morning, which he’s great about because I take a little bit longer to get ready. But we figure it out.
Paolo: Yeah, I think sometimes, especially working from home, the whole day feels like one big blob of time. So you know, like she said, kind of mapping it out and kind of spacing it as much as possible is really helpful. Otherwise, it’s all noise and we won’t get anything done.
Myrtle: And then do you take lunch breaks together?
Rachelle: Oh, yeah. All the time!
Paolo: She’s like an amateur chef, for sure, and I’m an amateur eater, so she makes a bunch of stuff. It’s awesome.
Rachelle: He’s good at cooking too though.
Paolo: I think, if anything that’s like the number one advantage of working from home is that we can kind of treat ourselves. We can do things in advance, cook things in advance, eat things in advance.
Rachelle: We eat a lot. And then also with our schedules, I’ll even take time sometimes during the work day to practice for the organ. I’m an organist at our Church, and if I know I’m leading that practice that day, I’ll go over a lot of the notes. I’ll go over a lot of the things I’m going to say during practice, and Paulo is usually really great about giving me that time because I tend to stress out a lot, you know, especially if it’s something I really care about. So he’s been really great at giving me that time.
Myrtle: So despite your busy schedules, how do you still make sure that you spend quality time with one another, and are there specific things that have worked out for both of you?
Paolo: Yeah, I think quality time is really important. I think there are certain things that we can control and if we can, you know, we make sure to plan those things ahead. So for instance, we make sure we have lunch and dinner together no matter what, as long as it’s within our schedules, which it usually is. Even on a, you know, a busy workday or a busy evening, we make sure to make that time for each other. And like I mentioned before, you know, we both love to cook just as much as we both love to eat, so I think sharing those commonalities, it’s something that we need to do every day anyway, so we might as well enjoy it.
Rachelle: Yeah, we genuinely enjoy each other’s company. So it’s such a big deal when we’re working from home and we see each other every day. We still get excited though to watch movies in the living room, we get excited to hang out together, we have a lot of hobbies that are similar.
Paulo is actually really into golf now, which is great. You’re good at it now. I feel like you’re really good at golf now. And, ahh, he makes really good steak, so I’m super into steak even more now, because he’s really good at making the perfect medium rare steak. And coffee, which I love, he’s so good at making coffee. You should see the kitchen. I think if anything that we’re going to argue about is kitchen space, because it looks like a coffee shop.
Paolo: That’s true.
Rachelle: But it’s good coffee though, so I still love it. I’m super into basketball, food, being outdoors, and you know he switches those things off, because I know he wasn’t always into basketball too much but now he is. And you weren’t too outdoorsy, but now I feel like you love it unless that’s just for me.
Paolo: Yeah, I mean, I think it’s both. I think I love it, and I love you so I think it kind of goes hand-in-hand.
Myrtle: Aww! Well, you had me at golf, steak and coffee. So I’m coming over. You know, are you free this weekend? [laughs]
Rachelle: Come over.
Myrtle: But you know, what are the things that you enjoy doing when you want to wind down or relax together?
Paolo: Some simple things that we never take for granted is getting some snacks or even popcorn, she loves buttery, buttery popcorn, and just watching a movie together and winding down. I think that’s something that we always look forward to. Also we just like to hang out and just kind of either lounge on the couch, kind of relax and not really work or stress or do anything, but just be there together.
Myrtle: Well, you know, last season we had an episode that covered being fully present without the distractions of phones, computers, tablets, and the like. How do you deal with this challenge since you both work from home?
Rachelle: Yeah, in the beginning, we were distracted by our phones and our laptops. It was pretty difficult because we both work from home, so technology is super big in our lives. And even when the work was over, we’d still be glued to our phones.
But we’re really good about always having lunch together and dinner together. I think food really does bring us together, and it was a no-phone zone because we enjoy it that much. We try our best to put our phones away for the moments that we actually get to hang out with each other. And luckily, we’re addicted to watching those shows and movies so we probably wouldn’t be checking our phones anyway. Yeah, I’m just glad that we were able to do that together.
Myrtle: And you’re both officers in the Church Of Christ. Rachelle, you mentioned that you’re an organist and then, Paolo, I believe you’re in the choir too, right? So how does that impact your schedules, having to, you know, go to choir practices and things like that?
Paolo: Rachelle is [a] choir organist and I’m an assistant choir leader in our local congregation. Rachel’s been an organist for, I don’t know, forever. Like, she’s been an organist since she was a child and I’ve been in the choir since then, too. We’re kind of used to it, in a sense, to prepare for, you know, worship services, to prepare for our duties and our responsibilities in the Church. This is something that I think getting married and living together, it’s something that we had to keep in mind too, not only individually but together.
Rachelle: Yeah, and sometimes we actually need to cut our workdays short because of those added responsibilities. We’re both in leadership, so especially during the days we have leadership meetings we actually have to stop working just so that we can attend that. And we do our best to prepare and practice before the worship service, because we really do value our duties as choir members in the Church.
Myrtle: So what does work/church/life balance mean to both of you? Rachelle: It means everything. I mean, it was super difficult at the beginning of our marriage to really balance it all. And the good thing about us, which is why I think we work so well as a couple, is that we actually prioritize Church duties before everything.
Paolo: Yeah, I agree. And no matter what comes in our lives, and no matter how difficult it can be, it’s really our faith that really, not only brings everything together but really, provides us the blessings that we need in this life.
Myrtle: Absolutely. But how did you learn to manage your time? Were there time management tips that you learned before getting married?
Paolo: I think the biggest thing that really taught us was just living in it. I think a lot of the experience that we had, early on especially, that’s what really kind of drove it home or really kind of fast forwarded our learning. And when it comes to, you know, time management, when it comes to living together as a married couple and really balancing everything together, the first few months of marriage was really hard. We were trying to prioritize our own lives and we were trying to, you know, navigate through this brand new life together. It was really hard, really difficult, but you know with God’s help and just the blessing that comes from marriage, I think we really grew to understand each other, and really understand how to better plan for our life.
Rachelle: We were both Kadiwa officers before getting married, and Kadiwa is that youth group in the Christian Family Organization for those 18 and up who are unmarried. And our local congregation actually had great time management tips in a workshop that we actually still utilize today. They talked about different apps you can use to be organized, Google Sheets. We also talked about having daily schedules, which we actually use all the time.
Myrtle: What a great idea for a workshop that I think would be beneficial for all age groups, really. And actually at this point, I want to know what the Bible has to say about making time to strengthen marriage relationships.
Brother Felmar Serreno, a minister of the gospel in the Church Of Christ, is here with us again on the podcast. Hello, Brother Felmar! Thanks for joining us again.
Brother Felmar Serreno: Hi, everyone. So our topic today—making quality time to strengthen the marriage relationship. However, when it comes to this, fulfilling that without cutting work hours or time for other commitments and, above all, without compromising on our spiritual obligations, you know, trying to accomplish all of this, for others it sounds impossible.
Others might not even bother to try, you know, to work this out, meaning they might say something like, “Well, we have to make compromises somewhere, because it’s either we take time off from work, or we absent ourselves from other activities, or we lessen our time for each other, because we can’t just do all of it on the regular.” But what we want to share with everyone today is that it is possible, and here’s how. The Bible teaches us this in the book of Matthew, chapter 19, the verse is 26. We’ll quote from the English Standard Version: But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
[Matthew 19:26 English Standard Version]
Brother Felmar Serreno: As members of the Church Of Christ we have heard this truth many times: “With God all things are possible.” It’s in the Bible. The Lord Jesus Himself taught this so why would we not believe it, right?
But just in case there’s a part of us that’s going, “Okay, but how will God make it possible? How will He make it possible for me to have time for my career, to have time for my Church duties, and to have time for my marriage, and even have time for myself? All of this on a regular basis? How?”
Here’s the answer to that question. The Bible teaches this. We’ll read Philippians this time, chapter two, the verse is 13, here in the International Standard Version. I quote the following: For it is God who is producing in you both the desire and the ability to do what pleases him.
[Philippians 2:13 International Standard Version]
Brother Felmar Serreno: You see, the reason people tell themselves sometimes, “It’s too hard to make regular quality time for my family,” or “It’s too hard to keep pursuing my life goals,” or “It’s too hard to hold onto my duty,” is because maybe they’re looking at themselves thinking, “I lack the ability.” You know, “My time management skills are poor,” or “I’m no good at logistics.” Or they lack the desire, the motivation, the energy, the drive, or they lack both. However, according to the Bible, what can God do for us? He can produce in us both the desire and the ability to do what pleases Him.
Therefore, if we want to level-up on our time management with married life, work, and above all our spiritual life, the only way to succeed is to seek God. Why? Because He’s the only One who can truly increase both the desire and the ability we need to do all the right things in life, including the things we want to do for ourselves and our marriage that are in accordance with His will.
So, having said that, Paulo and Rachel, what I’d love to ask you is: “Can you attest that what the Bible says here is true?” We heard from the Scriptures earlier that the Lord God produces in us the desire and the ability. In your life, especially in this recent year plus where, you know, you got married and you’re newlyweds now, how has God increased the motivation that we need so that we can see to all of our responsibilities in life, especially when it comes to our spiritual life?
Paolo: One of the important things that we noticed, whether it’s in our marriage or I think even in our lives before we joined together, was, we were blessed enough to be in our duties [while] in our childhood. A lot of the energy, a lot of the motivation we learned comes from kind of pushing forward. We have our duties, you know, we have our obligations and our family, and now we have each other. Fulfilling the duties that we have really gave us the strength, the energy, and the drive, and also the direction coming from the Holy Spirit. Rach has a great quote: “Faith over fear,” and I think that also helps with that, right?
Rachelle: Mmmhmm. What Paulo said is so true. We were very motivated through our duties but also just our faith in general every time. I think we were surprised by how marriage was and I think a lot of newly [wed] couples can attest to that. You know, you’re so excited, the wedding is done, and then you get to life and it’s not as easy as we thought it was going to be. We learned so much.
And during those difficult times, I think what kept us motivated was our faith, was the fact that God will continue to bless us if we trust in Him and we trust in each other. That’s something that really kept us motivated through everything.
Brother Felmar Serreno: I like what you both shared there that the faith is what gave you direction. Our faith is what gives all of us direction. When we have that direction, when things are clear, why wouldn’t you be motivated? You know exactly where you’re going.
But the Bible teaches that God also promises to develop in us or produce the ability, right, which is also important, because sometimes you’re motivated, you want to do it, but you may lack the ability. Like what Rachelle mentioned, you were surprised that, you know, it’s not as easy. Getting married is exciting. It’s happy, right? But then you start to settle in, into living together, working together at married life, and yeah, it’s not that easy to say the least. So, have you also seen, since you have been married, that God is producing in us the ability to adapt, to grow, without compromising on our other responsibilities, right, to family to work, especially when it comes to our spiritual life? Has God done this for you?
Paolo: I definitely, definitely believe so. One of the biggest things that I’ve learned, and that I believe God gave me the ability to learn, is to be understanding and patient. Living with someone who I’ve only dated and seen, you know, every couple of days in a week, now all of a sudden, we’re with each other every single hour of the day. It’s amazing, it’s exciting, but it also adds a lot of different experiences and perspectives. I believe God gave me the ability to really understand much clearer and have a better view of my wife, a view of our life together.
Rachelle: Yeah, to also follow up with that, [Brother] Felmar, I think God granted a lot of new abilities for me that I don’t think I had before, which was also patience. I think I would have given up so many times before, and I’m actually really glad that I didn’t get married until my 30s. And because of that, I think, yeah, the patience and then the understanding like Paulo said, I learned so much but God really gave me that ability to not give up, to keep an open mind, to keep an open heart, to really put trust in God. Because if this was the old me, I think I would have been scared of a lot of these situations, and a lot of these new things, but God also granted more faith, and He gave me more bravery. We’re now learning about another person. Even though you’re married, you’re still learning every day and I think that’s going to continue.
Brother Felmar Serreno: That’s awesome to hear that from the both of you, you know, attesting to what Scripture teaches us, that God really does produce in us the desire, the motivation, and the abilities that we need to do the things that are pleasing to Him, and to do the right things in life that would also set us up for a good future. Things like patience, understanding, how to handle new experiences, these things are not automatic to us, right? These are things that we really have to learn. We have to practice, we have to master, we have to gain the ability to do it.
Now at this part, for those who are hearing this and they heard your answers when it comes to what God has done for you, and they’re at the stage in their life where, you know, they need that. You know, they want that from God, that He would produce in them the desire, the motivation, and the abilities that are needed in marriage, and in being Christians or members of the Church of Christ, serving God and getting through this life. So, what did the two of you do to convince God to help you out? How did you convince Him to give you the desire, the motivation, as well as the abilities?
Rachelle: How did we convince our Almighty God? We’ve had the same devotional prayer at 10:15pm, and we never miss it no matter what. That’s something that we started when we were even just starting to date and it’s continued to our marriage. Through prayer, I truly believe that’s what helped us the most. I think God is still with us, because we never neglect to call unto Him, and there’s so many times where I think we even prayed more besides our devotional prayer times, extra prayers, times where we needed Him the most. I think our faith through Him is what has helped us.
Paolo: Yeah, I agree 100% with everything that Rachelle said. I think another big thing too, we definitely humbled ourselves. I for sure humbled myself, because I knew I was lacking, you know, not only for God but also for her to be honest. But yeah, humbling ourselves and really understanding too that there’s a lot more that can be done. There’s a lot more to be happy about and to be really thankful for, so that was a huge thing for us and for me personally too. I think that’s what’s helping us grow, you know, as a married couple, as individuals too, and I think most especially in our faith and our duties.
Brother Felmar Serreno: Wow. Well, I hope that also inspires everyone who’s tuning in today. You know, prayer, always communicating with God, that’s something that’s also been consistent in our podcast right, Myrtle? And you know, if you think about it, when it comes to family, or our friends, right, staying in touch with those that we care about and those who care about us, you strengthen the relationship, right? You naturally strengthen the relationship when you are regularly communicating with your friends or your family. So, the more we talk to God through prayer, our relationship with Him is also strengthened, and because our relationship with God is strengthened, and we live by His commands, we’re doing what pleases Him, we will be able to convince our Almighty God to answer our prayers, to give us the motivation and the abilities that we need to succeed in life, in our marriage, and most of all in our faith.
So, thank you very much for answering those questions. I’m going to hand it back to Myrtle now. To everyone else, thank you again for always joining us on Happy Life. See you all next time.
Myrtle: Thanks so much, Brother Felmar, for those very inspiring Bible verses and reminders that you shared with all of us today.
So, we talked about how important it is for you to spend quality time together, but you know there’s all this talk about self care. So, when you need to have alone time, or decompress, or relieve stress, what are your favorite things to do on your own?
Paolo: I think one of the ways that I de-stress, it’s working out in our home gym. You know we made, I think during COVID a lot of people including us, we made our own home gym. I work out, just have that time to myself, listening to music, either lifting weights or doing cardio, and it’s something that, you know, I do for myself. I think physical exercise can really relieve stress. I think also having that time to yourself, to really care for yourself, is really important and healthy, and that’s one of the things that I do to kind of de-stress and kind of unwind.
Rachelle: Yeah, and to preface, our home gym is in our garage next to some trash cans. It’s a really good gym though. You should be really proud. I know Paulo is really proud of it, but the home gym sounds so extravagant, but it’s a small little gym in our garage. But I agree. Working out, playing sports, is a super good time to decompress and relieve stress. I also do some writing on the side. I think that’s also helped me decompress. It’s one of my, kind of,newish favorite things to do since the pandemic. So that’s stayed and it’s been kind of fun.
Myrtle: So,with all your making time for your alone time, making time for your together time, making time for work, making time for your Church duties, you know, why do you give so much importance to your Church duties and to prioritizing God and serving Him?
Rachelle: Our Church duties are what actually drew us together in the first place when we first started dating. Our duties are very important to us and we can relate to the schedules that are involved with that.
Paolo: Yeah, and you know with both our workplaces, we made it a fact to let them know, our coworkers, about our faith, about the importance of our duties, and also what that entails as far as our obligations at work versus at Church. So they know that our duties come first and that we really set aside that time. Since they knew about that from the very beginning, it really paved the way to make it not as difficult to make that time for our duties, for our faith, for Church activities, and other things like that.
Myrtle: We talked about how important it is to have Church duties, and we also heard that it is possible to kind of juggle it all. What would your advice be to newlyweds who are hesitant about taking on more responsibility at Church because of time constraints and busy schedules?
Rachelle: It always works out. At those times when we actually didn’t prioritize our responsibilities at Church, we actually saw how that affected our marriage as well. It wasn’t a good thing when we didn’t prioritize our responsibilities in Church. When we feel closer to God, that’s when we [feel] stronger and closer to each other. If both partners have responsibilities at Church, you end up having a lot more in common with everything else in life too.
Paolo: Yeah and I think that’s really important. When you see that motivation and that love coming from your partner in their duties, it really motivates you to do the same, you know. And because it’s both of our priorities to stay within our faith, to stay within our duties, and that we both put God first in our lives, it really shows how great they are, you know, at taking care of not only responsibilities in their faith, but also other responsibilities in their life, especially our marriage.
Myrtle: Yes, for sure. And if you can share or try to summarize, how do you think that you have been blessed by God by putting your Church duties first? Paolo: The biggest way that God really blessed us, I think it was the peace that He continues to provide to us. In the beginning, you know, we had a lot of challenges, a lot of things to learn from one another. But I think because we prioritized our faith and our duties, God really gave us the patience, and the understanding, and the humility to really grow and learn together.
Rachelle: And how else we’ve felt so blessed, with putting our duties first, is that even though life is so messy, and with the new things of marriage life can get kind of crazy and there’s all these challenges, but when we look around, God has blessed our lives in so many ways. We have each other, we have our jobs, we have our dog that we love so much, and we have so much to look forward to in the future, and it’s exciting and we never would have been here without God.
And there were probably times where we might have taken it for granted or there might have been times where we took our responsibilities at Church for granted, and it showed us that it’s scarier and it’s harder when God is not there. But when He is, it’s amazing and everything that you’re scared about, or everything that you have fears about, it just goes away. God shows you that it’s going to be okay, and it’s just been amazing. It’s funny, because I feel like we’ve been married only for a little bit, but then I also feel like I’ve been married forever. So, yeah.
Myrtle: Well what you’ve said, it was beautifully put, you know, that you can feel God’s blessings in your lives.
I thank you so much, Rachelle and Paolo, for sharing what your busy schedules are like and how you manage to balance at all. We’re sure that many of our listeners can also relate to trying to find that balance and to striving to make time for what really matters in your lives. And for you, that’s your duties inside the Church Of Christ. So again, thank you for joining us on Happy Life.
Paolo & Rachelle: Thank you.
Myrtle: Work-life balance may be quite a challenge to achieve for many newlyweds as they embark on a new chapter in their lives, but we learned that there is a way that we can still do what matters most to us.
We’ve come to the end of our discussion for today! To learn more about Christian relationships please visit www.incmedia.org. If you’d like to say hi, send us a question, or see who our newlywed guests are, you can visit our Instagram account @happylife.podcast. Please also remember to share our podcast with your family and friends and all the newlyweds that you know!
Thank you from all of us here on the Happy Life team. We’re so glad you joined us today, and hope we’ve all been reminded about the blessings of marriage.
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