Moms Need a Healthy Marriage is Part VI of the “What Moms Need Most” series! *You can find the introduction and a link to all of the posts in the series HERE.
Now, as this is published, I just have to start with: Happy Easter!
I’ve been working on this post for the last week and since it’s done I decided to release it. It also feels extra ok that I’m sharing a marriage post on Easter because TODAY IS DAVE AND MY ANNIVERSARY! Yay for 24 years!
I’m hoping you might have a little downtime during this quieter-than-usual Easter to read. Also note: A Boy Mom Podcast episode on the topic of marriage will be coming out Tuesday, so like it or not — this is the week to focus on your marriage!
As I write this post, we are well into the Coronavirus pandemic and most of us have been sheltering in place at home for a few weeks. Everyone is being affected in some way. Of course we are being presented with a lot of challenges, as well as some surprising blessings. And as far as marriage goes — well, I think this pandemic is affecting marriages in a variety of ways, too. Some couples are stuck in small places together– either loving every minute of it, or driving each other crazy. 🙂 Other couples are longing to be together, but for one reason or another, cannot. It’s a weird time, no doubt. Maybe a weird time to be talking about marriage (or anything) because things are simply not…normal.
But I’m wondering if maybe this is a really good time to talk about marriage (and everything.) Because there is no doubt that when everything seems unsure, we become more sure of what matters most. And I’m here to remind you (and me) that your marriage is one of the things that matters most.
So, whether your husband’s loud chewing is driving you nuts, or you’ve never appreciated him more…let’s talk marriage. And for the sake of this series: marriage in the midst of motherhood.
Because if you’re married with kids I think you’ll agree that nothing changes marriage more than adding kids to the mix. Becoming a mother adds beauty, meaning and purpose to our lives…and it also adds stress, exhaustion, and a whole new level of responsibility. Having children can be the greatest blessing to a marriage, and it can make a hard marriage…even harder. I love to talk about marriage and I hope this conversation will be an encouragement to you!
First, a quick note to single Moms: There are plenty of single moms who read my blog and I don’t want to be insensitive to you in this post. My heart goes out to you as I’m guessing you did not plan to be raising a child (or children) on your own. I hope the other posts in this series are a big encouragement to you, and perhaps some of the principles in this post will still support you or give you some thoughts to tuck away in case your status changes. 😉 Keep doing the good, hard work you’re doing, and know that God sees everything you do.
Now for perspective: If you have found a loving spouse to partner with for the rest of your life, count yourself blessed. Of course, no marriage is perfect because no human is perfect — including YOU (and ME.) If your marriage has turned out to be different than you thought it would be, welcome to the club…Most of us feel that way to a small or large degree. I probably don’t need to tell you this, but I will in case you need a reminder: Marriage…is hard.
But a good marriage can be a wellspring of strength and support when you are raising kids. How many times have I called my husband at work to break down in tears and tell him how this son is doing his thing again and the other one is doing that..With very few words my husband understands and can offer me the kind of love and empathy no one else could. A strong marriage can be a refuge of strength in the middle of a hard day, or welcome arms to comfort you at the end of one. A healthy marriage is so important, especially as you get a glimpse of the future reality that one day all of your kids will be grown and it will be back to…just the two of you.
Moms: A strong marriage is worth your efforts. Even while raising kids — especially while raising kids. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of making your marriage a really big deal. However, I understand that…
The Struggle is real: When you are in the busy years of raising kids, sometimes marital challenges can feel overwhelming. You might have different ideas about parenting styles, disciplinary techniques, priorities and all the rest. Extended family can be a blessing, or wreak havoc (and you might have opposite ideas on that, too!) Expectations can lead to huge disappointments, and on and on the list goes. I have heard from countless women who are frustrated with their husband’s role in the family, and I hear you; this is really, really hard stuff.
But so is divorce, single parenting, and alloftheproblems that come with it. There is no such thing as an easy way out.
I believe with all of my heart that if you can humbly work towards peace and harmony in your marriage, it will pay off. Maybe not overnight, but over time. My own marriage has gone through plenty of challenging seasons and I can honestly say that working through our challenges has only made the love sweeter as we grow up and grow older together.
With that in mind, I want to encourage every married person reading this to clothe yourself with humility and an open mind as I share a few tips for nurturing your marriage, in the midst of motherhood. These notes come from my 24 years of marriage, and a whole lot of study (and Godly mentors) who have taught me along the way…
NURTURING YOUR MARRIAGE IN THE MIDST OF MOTHERHOOD
(and the Coronavirus 😉 ) 7 Tips.
- Always remember that marriage came first. No matter how much you might like those kids of yours, it was God’s design that we become “one flesh” with our spouse. Kids should come behind your marriage on your priority list. (TRUST ME: We all get tripped up on this one at some point. But keeping it in mind as a goal is very helpful!)
- Never expect your marriage to work on cruise control. Every relationship — including and especially marriage, requires upkeep, attention, and course correction. It is so wise (crucial, in my opinion!) to read books and articles about marriage (I’ll list some that I’ve written below.) To get to marriage conferences when you can. To take time to think and plan and be intentional about the ways you might work on your marriage. Upkeep is everything.
- Don’t wait for your spouse to initiate…well, anything. When times are hard we often long to see our husband working on things, and while it’s really nice if they do, it doesn’t always happen. While we wait for them, we are likely to grow bitter and frustrated. Walls come up then and most of the time things do not get better. I once heard a marriage expert respond to the question of “Who should make the first move to apologize/reconcile, etc?” The answer was: “Whoever is most mature in that moment.” I loved that. (We all want to think we are the most mature, right?) I’ve found through experience that my husband is sometimes not even tuned into how mad or frustrated I am. When I make the first move to work through a conflict or problem, he is almost always more than happy to meet me in the middle. So, drop your pride and move in closer…You won’t regret it!
- Seek help when you need it. Most of the strong marriages I know (mine included!) have gone through seasons of needing outside help. Whether you know a seasoned couple you might meet with to talk about challenges in your marriage (I highly recommend this, BTW!) or you find a good counselor, I think a third party can be incredibly helpful. Don’t put this one off.
- Stoke the romance. (See #3, above.) Marriages go through seasons, and sometimes one spouse or the other will be more on the romance game. Get creative. Have fun. Just keep the flames burning.
- Do not look to your husband to be what they cannot be. Our spouses are super important people, but they are not God. Or mind readers. Or a best girlfriend. They are husbands. I have personally learned that ONLY GOD can meet my deepest needs and fill me up. My marriage is the very healthiest when I look to God to satisfy me, then out of that, look to serve my husband. Sure, I ask for things from my husband, too (it’s a balance thing!) but not for the stuff that only God can do. Much of the time when we seem to be at odds with one another, I realize this is the problem.
- PRAY for your spouse. Every day. God has placed you in a special role in your husband’s life and your prayers are powerful. Pray for the hard stuff, yes. But also pray in thanks for all of the good. (You know you can think of some!) Pray for your husband’s health, safety, direction, wisdom, work, and other relationships. Pray as often as you can. **This book is a great way to start praying Scripture- based prayers for your husband: The Power of a Praying® Wife Book of Prayers*
If you are struggling in your marriage right now, I am so sorry. I am praying for you even as I type and I hope so much that you might find it in you to recommit to the work it takes to begin to establish and maintain a healthy marriage. Of course if there is abuse or unfaithfulness in your marriage, I am not telling you to stay. These things ought to be taken seriously and I would urge anyone facing these things to find a safe place to go while you get the help you need.
Here is a list of some of my most popular marriage-related blog posts from my archives.
Sending love and prayers for this challenging season, and for all of you to THRIVE in all areas of motherhood, even now. I love to hear from you in comments, so please share from your experience, leave a question, or encourage others in the comment area below!! Thank you!
BE SURE TO LISTEN TO THE BOY MOM PODCAST this Tuesday as I have a marriage expert on who will offer encouragement, practical ideas, and some refreshing perspectives on the importance of a healthy marriage as we are raising our kids!
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