Joe and I love to start our mornings with a cup of coffee and few quiet moments of conversation. Even with our kids being older- we still get frustrated with the constant stream of interruptions from our kids. I always look at Joe and tell him how I wonder how we got this popular! They all want to talk to us 🙂
That’s a good thing, being a highly involved, loving parent. Except when it’s not a good thing. When you place all your physical and emotional energy into your kids and let your marriage run on autopilot. After all, we’re the adults here. We have a commitment. And that should be good enough.
Too many marriages have learned the hard way that that it isn’t true. If you don’t consistently invest in your marriage during the childrearing years there will be nothing left later. The adults in the house have needs too!
Your marriage should be a higher priority than the kids.
We all love a good love story… that movie where you see the two characters start to fall for each other. The way they look at each other. And you’re thinking #goals. How much better if your kids saw that in their own home rather than the movies? A real, live, love story of two imperfect people learning to sacrificially love each other. That’s what we want to give our kids. To see our love story. See the gospel in how we love each other!
Peer pressure is powerful but even stronger than peer pressure is the model that kids see at home. It’s very hard to overcome the relational patterns you grow up with. What are your kids learning about marriage from your example? By investing in your marriage, and showing them what Christ-like love looks like, you are giving your children a huge advantage in their future relationships!
So how do you prioritize your marriage over the constant demands of raising children?
Pursue each other.
Marital love is not just friendship. It goes beyond friendship to a passionate pursuit of someone else’s heart. I pursue my husband when I make time for him, or when I wonder what he’ll think or say about whatever is going on in my life. He pursues me when he checks in on me often to say I love you. Prioritizing my marriage is about placing my husband in the forefront of my mind and heart and not just thinking about the kids all day. No matter how long you’ve been married, you’re never too old to cultivate romance!
Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Protect your time.
The best way to prioritize your marriage is to make adjustments to your calendar and perhaps even your pocketbook. What does your calendar say about what your priorities are? Is it full of mostly the children’s activities and other obligations? Time slips away as easy as money does unless you fiercely protect it. Joe and I have noticed that we need more than just a designated block of time to spend together. We also need downtime and margin worked into our regular schedules so that we’re not too tired and stretched too thin for each other. Maintaining a marriage is a whole lot more than just an occasional date night to “catch up”. Catching up is for friends who haven’t seen each other in a while, not for lovers.
Watch your words:
Watching how you speak about your spouse- either when he is there or not- can play a huge role in keeping your husband or wife in a higher place than the children. Like it says in Proverbs 18- Life and death are in the power of the tongue. Use your words to build your marriage up:
-Speak highly about your spouse. This one of the easiest and best ways to push your marriage up a few notches!! Talk positively about your husband as often as you talk about your children. Complimenting your spouse often reminds your spouse and your kids of the value that he has!
-Consult your husband or wife. My kids know that 80% of the questions they ask me are answered with “I’ll need to talk to your dad about that.” That isn’t because I can’t make my own decisions but because I value my husband’s opinion higher than anyone else. I consistently tell my kids that to remind them that we are a team.
-Guard your tongue. No matter how upset you may be it’s so important to never disparage your husband or wife in front of your kids. Speaking disrespectfully about your spouse has the potential to kill a marriage as well as damage the relationship between your spouse and your kids. Hold your tongue and don’t do it.
-Don’t let the kids interrupt you when you are having a conversation with each other. That shows disrespect and implies that the children are more important than what your spouse is saying. I used to always cut Joe short when the kids came in with some comment or questions. I was thinking, I’ll just answer their need and get back to my husband. But over time it was undermining my marriage to not let my husband finish his thoughts with me.
-Don’t dismiss his opinions. Especially when you find yourself disagreeing about parenting issues. Our kids can figure it our pretty quickly if we are in disagreement about something that involves them. I have learned to tell our kids, I don’t agree with Dad on this issue, but we’re going to talk it out and decide together what to do. Value his opinions and validate his feelings.
Joe and I can’t parent our children well if we haven’t put on our own gas masks first, as they say. Just like our kids need a stable source of love to fall back on, so do we! Letting God’s Word speak into our marriage and staying connected with Jesus daily reminds us of our ultimate source of love. Then as we put His love into practice in our marriage, that love will impact our kids in powerful ways!
Don’t be afraid of investing in your marriage while your kids are young. Even if it feels like you’re giving less to your kids. Having a stable foundation of love will provide them with more advantages in life than any class you can enroll them in 🙂 When they are grown and their mom and dad still deeply love each other, that will be the gift that keeps on giving.
Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. 1 Peter 5:2-3