The Child Centered Marriage

I can’t remember the last time my husband and I have been on a date night. We talk for an hour or two after the children are in bed. I call him on the phone during the regular workday (or a lot if I’m having a very hard day at home). But we haven’t had the time to actully say, we’re leaving the children at home and going off on a date. And during this date we are going to stick to the follwowing three rules:

1)       Don’t talk about children.

2)       Don’t talk about children.

3)       Don’t talk about children.

Child centered marriage. It’s an easy pit to fall in.

We’ve fell in it. Big time.

I hear all these stories about how parents spend time solely focused on their children: shuffling them off to various activities, being too permissive for fear they’ll psychologically damage their children, etc. And when the children are up and gone, there’s nothing left to give to the one to whom you said “I do” at the altar decades ago.

I don’t want to be that person.

I want to celebrate my sixtieth anniversary and say: “It was good. Hard sometimes. But good. I’m glad I did this with you, this life. We did good together.”

To accomplish, I have to make the time, to listen, to talk. To hope with him. Together.

Hope is the engine.

Hope is the fuel.

Hope puts together the messy parts, the hidden parts, the scary parts (and the child centered parts!) of marriage and molds them with the beautiful. Makes them fit.

I know of a woman who lost hope. She lost hope after years and years of being in a physically abusive marriage. After the marriage ended on paper, the divorce settled, fear still haunted her. Kept her from loving again. She lost hope.

I know of another woman who lost hope too. She lost hope in her dream of being a singer after she said “I do.” Not because her husband didn’t want her to be a singer, but because she had a false persception of what a “good wife” should be. And so she lived out her marriage carrying the burden of a false hope. And her relationship with her husband grew strained as the years went on.

Thinking about these women, having a child centered marriage doesn’t sound so bad.

Or does it?

I may not have experienced the same level of stresses that these brave women endured, but I do know the importance of ensuring healthy, loving interactions with the wonderful man I share a one-flesh destiny with.

Hope.

I want to make room for hope, true hope, in marriage. And so I resolve to do something small to keep the marriage part of the family going. Something like a compliment a day.

Then, we can take a baby step towards a date night. {RedBox movie, anyone?}

But hope can be lived out simply. Day by day.

On Real Love

marriage

Next year, 2013, my husband and I will celebrate our ten year marriage anniversary.

Ten years is a long time, especially when two flawed, Jesus loving people commit to building a life together…till death do them part.

Almost a decade ago, I didn’t even want to get married to my husband. In fact, I wanted to call it quits a week before our wedding. I was so adamant about backing out of the whole thing that I called our pastor and told him I wanted to cancel the wedding. He gathered us both together for a meeting and I gave the pastor my list of reasons why I didn’t want to marry my husband:

1) HE did ….

2) HE is so….

3) HE doesn’t understand that I ….

And on, and on, and on.

Our wise pastor considered all my railing accusations against my husband and said this:

“You have faults too, yet Jesus still chose to die for you. Don’t you think it’s wonderful that you’ll be able to walk down the aisle next week, knowing all of your fiance’s faults, look him in the eye and still say “Yes, I choose to love you. I choose to share my life with you. Preslaysa, that’s Christlikeness.”

The truth of his statement burned me up inside. I couldn’t justify my argument after that. Deep within, I knew that if I backed out now, I would miss out on God’s opportunity to mold me into a Real Lover.

Prior to that meeting, I had my own notions of what being a Real Lover was all about. We all do, and I can’t say that I have all the answers almost a decade later, but I do know that:

  • Real Lovers commit.
  • Real Lovers forgive.
  • Real Lovers see their loved one’s flaws, and love anyway.
  • Real Lovers don’t accuse their loved one.
  • Real Lovers are transparent. They can stand naked before their loved one…and not be ashamed.

In the dailyness of life, especially at this stage where we are raising little ones, it’s easy for me to harp on my husband’s faults. The stresses of caring for young children can try my mind, will and emotions. I have to consciously choose to be a Real Lover in these situations. To not complain. To praise. To not nag. To honor. To not tear down. To build up.Hopefully, after many more decades of marriage to my husband, I’ll finally get it right.But even if I don’t perfect love, I know that:

    Real Lovers forgive seventy times seven. And so I can choose mercy over justice.
    Real Lovers love grace. And so I can choose to be grace-full in the hard moments of life.
    Real Lovers commit. And so I can choose to re-commit each and every morning when I awaken with him at my side.
    Real Lovers seek the best for their loved one. And so I can choose to lay aside my human need to be validated…and be selfless. Be Christlike.
    That’s what makes Real Marriages last.

Teamwork

Family involves a lot of teamwork. No one person can do everything alone. I’m learning this more and more as my responsibilities at home increase. I naturally tend to want to do everything myself, but this approach can be counterproductive. Thankfully, The Man helps out immensely in getting things done.

All too often, mothers can find themselves mired in ‘mommy guilt’ which leads to doing too much. In the end, we are exhausted and tired. I did this recently when I awakened with hubby at 1am. He typically feeds the baby at that time. I woke up with him so I could wash dishes. Hubby took one look at me and said: “Go to sleep!” I didn’t listen and in the morning, I paid for it by being extra tired. Now, I’m forcing myself to take a short nap in the middle of the day.

Let’s Chat: When you think of family, do you envision a team?

 

A New Year, A New Resolution for Marriage

I hope everyone enjoyed ringing in the New Year. If you have small children, one of the advantages of New Year’s even is you can put the kiddos to bed early and then have a “date night” with your spouse. My New Year’s eve date night consisted of watching two movies with Hero (that’s my new name for hubby), but then I fell asleep just before midnight :-) The next morning we all went to church.

Having a regular date night with The Man has been a challenge. It’s easy to get caught up in the rigors of daily life and forget to nurture the most important human relationship. This year, I’ve set a goal to have two date nights a month with Hero and three family mini-vacations somewhere close to home.

With a new baby arriving in March, that may be a tough goal to meet, but I am committed to making it happen.

What do you do to have a regular date night with your spouse? Comment with your idea. I need some tips :-)

JANUARY CONTEST: Blog commenters will be entered in a drawing to receive 4 different Love Inspired contemporary titles from 2011. The more you comment, the more entries you receive! Winner announced on Feb. 1st.

Monkfish & Marriage by Jennifer Slattery

Hey everyone, it’s Preslaysa!

I’m pleased to have talented writer, Jennifer Slattery, as our guest blogger today.

 

“Oh, darling…dinner’s ready.”

Giggle, snicker, hehehehehehe.

In walks hubby, drawn to the kitchen by the alluring smell of buttery onions and roasted garlic only to find a monstrous, eye-bulging, teeth showing creature staring up at him from the center of the table. And here I am, rolling on the floor, laughing out loud, watching his jaw drop. My daughter? She’s not amused:

“Mom! That’s not funny! I’m making chicken nuggets.”

You gotta love teens. They tell it like it is. No beating around the bush, no tiptoeing on egg shells afraid they’ll hurt your feelings. If it enters their head, it spills out of their mouth.

A couple years ago, our daughter came home from school and told my husband and I that we had placed second in a very prestigious contest. According to the seventh grade class at Northland Christian, we were voted the second weirdest parents. Now, I don’t know if this was for the entire school or just for that grade, but it didn’t matter. And this is an honor we didn’t take lightly. In fact, I created a dance and song to celebrate and offered to record it for Youtube. Unfortunately my daughter didn’t see the value in that and begged me not to do it. Oh, my poor, frequently mortified child who must coach her parents on how not to behave in restaurants before we leave the car:

“Now Dad, please don’t introduce everyone at our table to the wait staff. And please don’t tell her the comb-over joke. It’s really not funny.”

Seriously? Not funny? Oh, that’s my favorite one. Although the telling can be quite time consuming. You’d have to know the whole background joke to truly get it, but think high school basketball coach with a foot long comb-over greased across his shiny bald head, flapping in the wind as he demonstrates a perfectly executed lay-up. Now think of a balding lawn with overgrown patches. Yep, time for a lawn-comb over. Okay, so maybe its a private joke. That’s what we always say when people aren’t laughing, right? But stay with me here.

So what does Monkfish, comb-overs, and ROFLOL moments have to do with marriage? Laughter is the medicine, my friend. The igniting spark, the cementing glue, the vein-bulging, drool producing, cough-ensuing catalyst that will bond you and your husband’s heart for life. (If you don’t get the whole vein-bulging, drool producing, cough-ensuing reference, you’ve never seen my second laugh. You know the one. Where you’re rocking back and forth, mouth gaping, laughing so hard you begin to choke on your own spit. Although the second laugh is nothing like the third laugh. At least that’s what I’ve been told.)

According to Elizabeth George, author of A Woman After God’s Own Heart, the woman “sets the mood and maintains the atmosphere in the home.” (p. 134) Proverbs 17:22 says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”

Wow, is that true! If I’m a sour pickle, it isn’t long before gloom and doom settles around our house. But if I pick up a wooden spoon and an old coffee can and do the tango in the middle of the kitchen—oops, forgot about those windows, and my neighbor mowing his lawn. Well, he used to be mowing, now he’s watching that crazy Slattery lady do a John Travolta-Cindy Lauper-Pee Wee Hermon dance in the middle of her kitchen. Think he’d like to join me?—it isn’t long before we’re all laughing.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying you should skirt over issues and sweep everything under the rug. What I’m saying is make your house a home. Make it a place of joy. Don’t be afraid to be silly. You’re your husband’s teammate. Be his friend, too. Add a splash of jalepeno-infused vinegar into your relationship and watch your husband’s eyes light up as his worries of work dissolve beneath a fit of giggles.

Don’t know how? Get a book. Seriously. There’s nothing wrong with seeking out a good, clean joke once in awhile. And ask God to help you. Even better, spend a few minutes at your Savior’s feet. What? You thought God was a staunch-nosed galactic kill joy? Then you’ve never watched an eighty-pound German Shepherd chase his tail or a baby devour his toes. God is the God of joy and He wants to share that joy with you.

Most important: keep it fun. Life is serious enough. Your spouse doesn’t need another business partner. He needs a heart-lifter. He needs a friend.

Jennifer Slattery writes for Christ to the World Ministries, Samie Sisters, and the Christian Pulse and is the marketing manager for the literary website, Clash of the Titles. In 2009 she placed first in the Heart of America Christian Writers Network contest and in 2010 she was a Christian Writers Guild Operation First Novelist finalist, placed second in the Dixie Kane, and Fourth in the Goden Pen. She has a short piece in Bethany House’s Love is a Flame (under a pen name) forwarded by Gary Chapman, another piece in Cathy Messecar’s A Still and Quiet Soul and another piece scheduled to appear in Majesty House’s Popcorn Miracles. She’s also written for numerous other publications, E-zines, and websites. Find out more about her and her writing at her devotional blog: Jennifer Slattery Lives Out Loud. (http://jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com)