I think many over-achieving parents like myself can have great intentions, but can actually try too hard.
I try to project ahead and think about my girls sitting in a counseling chair:
“She was awesome, but I could never meet her expectations.”
“She was so fun, but holy crow she embarrassed us.”
“She protected us so much, that we never had a chance to make a decision ourselves. Or make mistakes.”
“She was so busy. Always so busy – never had time for us.”
Above FEAR, WORRY, STRICT DISCIPLINE, FAILURE TO DISCIPLINE, TOO MUCH LOVE, LACK OF LOVE…
my heart keeps going back to one issue that could wreck the whole thing:
Parents that love each other.
I believe we could honestly toss all the kid ideas, crafts, blog posts and rituals
and spend 30 days just loving our spouses well – and our kids would be different.
Studies have shown that kids rest better and perform better in school (looking for data) – when they feel and know their parents’ love is secure.
I am not writing this post because I have the best marriage.
I am writing this because it is constantly work. My AWESOME man always gets the leftovers and it’s just not right. He isn’t perfect and I am not perfect. However, we aren’t going to settle for “oh, this is just a phase when kids are young.”
It IS hard when they are young and I imagine even more challenging as they grow. However, if we wait until they grow up and then spend time together – we are strangers and then you know what happens. Look at society and the odds.
A friend recently asked me:
“I want to have kids,
but I’m afraid to ruin our marriage.
What advice do you have?”
Her question made me so sad. Let’s give her some advice not because I have the best one, but because I love my man. I needed this reminder today. We love the Lord and our children. We are committed to the end.
1. Expecting Too Much
As I look back over our 9 years of marriage – we have many western standoffs. Who will move first? I am waiting on him to change and he is waiting on me. My friend Mandy sums up the crux of most marriage issues in this amazing post. If one of us takes the first step to just serving the other one – putting the other one’s needs first – it starts working. AND – expecting all of our needs from God – the game changes. I put way too much pressure on Ron to meet my every need of when he wasn’t designed to do that.
To get time together as a couple takes work and this is HUGE. Most marriages I respect and admire are SO intentional. They date weekly and get away at least quarterly – if not, annually. YOU CAN make it happen. Trade with another couple if finances are tight. Tell your parents this is your Christmas gift over all things. Time together and away is the ticket.
3. Little Things
If our kids see that they are the center – that’s all they know. Little things like letting Dad pick the show, the menu, getting the first greeting or kiss, riding with him up front, etc. All these things communicate – he comes first. Thinking of him throughout day – asking girls to help with a note or a phone call to encourage dad. Ron reminds me that he just wants to know he has been thought of during the day. That isn’t asking a whole lot.
Parenting is so stressful. You need to be ready to laugh and go with the flow. Anal people like me need fun people like Ron. A blowout – a screaming baby – needs a moment of laughter. The world is not ending. Lock arms and giggle. We will survive! Together!
I strongly recommend counseling if you are struggling before it gets bad or if it’s bad. If you can’t afford, find one Godly couple you admire (older than you – season ahead) and ask for one meeting a month. I believe in mentors year round – regardless of state of marriage.
Our small group has kept our marriage strong. We have been in several many small groups over the last 9 years. Meeting weekly with like-minded couples lets us pray together, share struggles and keeps us honest and accountable. Tough to hide a true struggle from dear friends. That’s a great thing.
7. Girl Time
Guys really don’t want to talk about blogs and feeling fat. Get some girl time and save them from the chatter. One night every month or more just for a couple hours is HUGE. Careful with husband bashing. I am careful to be around friends that value marriage. Ones that can share struggles, but then are quick to solve and encourage.
8. Be the Cool Wife
I feel like I was born to be an annoying, nagging, honey-do, beat-down, controlling wife – what a miserable way to live for him. I have to push against that grain and try to “be the cool wife.” I constantly have to watch the way I speak to him. I want him to feel heard, respected and loved. I want him to still love and enjoy what makes him Ron and not just a provider that does chores.
I don’t think it ever hurts in a rough spot or stressed time to just write a note and an email to admit when you’re wrong and tell that sweet man that you are committed for life. Even when it is the hardest ever. EVEN IF he has done wrong too and needs work. We are responsible for our part of it – that’s it.
10. I Need You
So often, I need more help! More direction! More this! More that. I can often UNLEASH… or God can push me to handle it differently. It goes much better when I am teary and tender and say, “Babe – I need you. I really do. I don’t know how to handle this or that. I need your wisdom, direction or a game plan. Can you help me with this? Give me some advice or take this off my plate?” Yelling and pointing and accusing typically goes…. Horrifically.
NOTE TO THOSE HURTING: Some of you feel way wounded and in the worst situation ever. Some are in situations way beyond your control. I am praying for you today and I pray He’ll show you there is hope. I still think so many of these apply. All you can do is your part to love him and pray for God to change his heart. Look to God to fill your needs in all areas. Hang in there!!!
3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
HOW DO YOU KEEP A MARRIAGE STRONG
WITH KIDS IN THE HOME?
WHAT CAN WE DO TODAY TO LET OUR HUSBANDS KNOW THEY ARE FIRST?
AND THAT THEY MATTER?
Book: Sacred Marriage
Series: Staying in Love