I enjoy public speaking and am always honored when the Lord grants me an opportunity to promote strong marriages from a platform. Out of all my audiences, my favorite demographic is young mothers. I have spoken at a number of moms groups (such as MOPS and similar organizations) to encourage women to make their relationship with their husband priority number one. This can be very difficult, especially with young children.
The reason I love addressing these women so much is because I am one of them! I am preaching to myself as much as I am to my audience! My husband and I have been blessed with four children in four years and so we are continually learning, striving, and sacrificing to make our marriage the primary relationship of our home (save our walk with the Lord, of course).
This goal of having our relationship take precedence over our responsibility to our children has proven difficult at times. Our children need constant attention and assistance. Yet, we cannot let our marriage take a back seat during this season of life Here are some of the tips I have found most helpful as we fight to maintain a proper balance.
I realize this sounds like a given, but sometimes I let my commitment to pray for my husband waiver as I focus on tending to and praying for my young children. Yet, I often forget that praying for him is the most important thing I can do for my entire family. Our husbands are the spiritual leaders of our home; as we pray for them we are paving the way for them to lead our children into a personal relationship with Christ. The importance of our prayers should never be underestimated. My goal is to pray for my husband, each morning, before I pray for my children. It is interesting to note that when I am most frustrated with my husband, I can look back through my prayer journal and see that I spent more time praying for my children than I did for my husband. The opposite is also true: I feel closest to my husband when my prayer life puts him before my children.
When it comes to speaking positively to my husband, I try to keep Ephesians 4:29 at the forefront of my mind. The verse reads, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” As wives, we need to make sure that the words we speak to our husbands are beneficial! If they aren’t – then they don’t need to be spoken! (For anyone interested, last year I wrote this blog post on being an Ephesians 4:29 wife.)
We must also make sure that we are speaking positively about our husbands to our friends, his parents, our parents, and especially our children! It is vital that we build our husbands up to everyone. There is a huge distinction between speaking positively and not speaking negatively about our husbands. I don’t want to merely avoid bashing my husband; I want to be active in building him up. In my choice of words, my desire is to set the stage for my husband to be the hero of our home. An example is when my children ask, “Where’s daddy?” I don’t simply reply that he is at work; instead I tell the children how daddy is at work doing what God created him to do and so he can provide for our family. I brag to our children for several minutes about how hard their daddy works. I don’t just avoid speaking negatively… I speak positively about him… All. Day. Long. The challenging part of this is to do so at all times, with all audiences, regardless of emotion. But, the benefits of controlling one’s tongue are immeasurable.
To be honest, my husband and I struggle in this area. In our first two years as parents, we went on a grand total of five dates. We had a slew of excuses, but the reality was we didn’t make it a priority and, as a result, our relationship struggled. For the last year and a half, we have been faithful to go on a date once a month. For us, it is huge. Ideally, we would love to have a weekly date, but the logistics of that are difficult between finding a trustworthy babysitter and my husband’s erratic work schedule. Like I said, we struggle in this area. We do try to have a weekly “living room date night” where we put the children to bed and then watch a movie, play a board game, or get take out. Even though this isn’t our strong suit, we certainly see the benefits of having a routine date night. It is important for the marriage relationship and it sends a message to the children that mommy and daddy’s relationship is special.
Many of our friends have a scheduled “couch time.” This is where the couple sits on the couch together to talk and they don’t allow their children to interrupt. Because of my husband’s work schedule, we moved this concept to the table. During our family meal (which is either lunch or dinner depending on what shift my husband is working) we set the timer on the microwave and during this time the children have to be silent. These few minutes are set aside for Jason and I to talk to each other about anything but the children. For me, this serves as a healthy reminder that we aren’t a child centered home.
I am fully aware that some nights you are so tired that you can’t even stay awake long enough to brush your teeth (or is this just me?!) so making love isn’t even on the radar. Other nights, when it is on the radar – the children can’t seem to get to sleep. This area of marriage can be easily neglected if it isn’t given the intentionality it deserves. Sex must remain a protected, sacred, and frequent part of your marriage no matter what life throws at you. Wake up early, utilize nap times, schedule it on your calendar, get creative, and don’t push it off “until tomorrow.” 😉