So, here we are in full swing of Winter, close to Spring with the leaves contemplating their change, the temperatures increasing(?), and families in full array of sports, school, work, travel, kids, and the general mayhem of weekly life. For many families, the mother and father pause their own needs and wants for the greater good of the kids. Dates nights are put on the back shelf and alone time is almost non-existent. Most marriages are put on auto-pilot to cruise through hoping once again for better weather, better schedules, and better time, somehow think that the family vacation or summer will heal all relationship ills.
I believe that putting the needs of mom and dad on the back shelf is a mistake, mainly because the two of you are the most important relationship in the entire family system. If you sacrifice yourselves constantly and put you on the back burner for the kids, then the kids grow up thinking that they are the center of the world – your world. As cute a thought as this is, the reality is that they need the stability, emotion, strength, and soundness of both mom and dad to be there for them as they grow and mature. How can mom and dad not be strong, together, emotionally sound, and stable if the marriage is not constantly being nurtured, loved, and supported? As many of you have heard me say over and over, “The marriage relationship is the hardest relationship in the world to maintain but the most rewarding example of what God can do with 2 people in covenant relationship.”
There is no autopilot for marriage. There can’t be. So I want to suggest some small ways to help make marriage more manageable and meaningful for the daily life.
1) Open up the checkbooks and financial accounts to each other once a month. Let the other see and know where your money is being spent. 99% of the time it will be a revelation to one another how much is being spent on household items: food, clothes, school supplies, technology, maintenance, and incidentals.
2) Open up your hearts to one another 1-2 times a month. Take 1-2 times a month to make an appointment with your spouse or significant other to go deeper than the typical movie night or game night with the kids. Alone together separate from the kids, talk about deeper more sensitive issues about how each is feeling about life, the family, the marriage, etc. This is where we check-in with each other and where we can be honest, authentic, real, and tangible in our struggles and needs. This isn’t the quick “I love you” as one passes the other in the hallway heading out the door. Take the time to reconnect 1-2 times a month.
3) Open up your mind to the other every now and then. What I mean by this is to let your spouse inhabit your thoughts. Tear off a piece of paper and scribble a note of love or thanks and tape it to the mirror for the next morning or to the steering wheel of their car. Super easy to do and costs nothing and earns priceless points!
Raising a family is always a busy and hectic time but we can take small efforts to make our marriages more manageable and meaningful too!
Grace and Peace,