Hello, hello! Got a cup of coffee (or your own favorite beverage), friend? I have a little secret to share with you today. My husband and I shared our eighth anniversary last week, and I re-read a post I wrote four years ago when we were baby marrieds about ways to honor your husband. Babies we were. Now, babies we have. Three of them. As Yoda might say, tired we are. Also, according to my own article, I’m not faring all that well. Oops.
What happened to listening to my own advice? Exhaustion happened. I’m pooped, y’all. Sadly that leaves leftovers for my husband. Cold leftovers at that. Bah. We went on a little anniversary date and realized we miss each other. We miss having a conversation without interruption. We miss it so much that it took a moment for us to remember how to have a full conversation or what to talk about that didn’t involve the children. Hazards of parenthood and all. During this time, we also realized that we need to be more intentional of wasting time together — alone. Our sitter list is sparse (as in just his mom) so we don’t really go out — ever — unless there is an occasion. It absolutely affects our marriage.
Don’t get me wrong. Our marriage isn’t “in trouble.” We still love, adore, and enjoy each other, but having that time to reconnect, an opportunity to do nothing much and just have fun, that’s also important to make sure that is always the case. Because, these kids? They are amazing and a blessing and wonderful — but they are also out to get us. I kid. Kind of. Parenting is hard. It is worth every grey hair and some of the sleepless nights, but it is hard, and it threatens to displace marriage as the primary vocation we have entered into with each other.
So today, I’m brainstorming a few NEW ways to love and honor my husband and keep our marriage a priority in this season of raising and chasing kids. This list is in no particular order.
- Find your couple love language and use it unsparingly. Ours? GIF. We are GIF lovers and can have an entire conversation exchanging them via text or messenger. So watch out, Hubs. GIFs comin’ at ya!
- Find one way to serve your spouse each day. Maybe for me that means turning off the Parks & Rec binge and making sure the dishes are done and the table is cleaned off for dinner before they all get home. Maybe it means taking the bedtime routine solo so he can just sit for awhile. Maybe it is setting the coffeepot for the morning before I head to bed so he doesn’t have to remember in the morning. The thing is, the Hubs is excellent at doing the little things to make my life easier. I need to return the favor more often.
- Speak well of your spouse, especially to them. Living with another person can make us vulnerable to counting all the ways they annoy us, rather than all the ways we love them. Even though we’ve each got our annoyances, I don’t want to be the one that unknowingly confirms the enemy’s lying voice in his head about any of his fears of shortcomings. He’s kind of amazing. That’s why I married him.
- Pray for your spouse. Daily. And say a blessing over them. (For us it will be at night because the Hubs is out the door before I get out of bed in the morning!) Ain’t nothing the devil likes more than bustin’ up those power couples, right? Pray, pray, pray!
- Laugh together. Because sometimes in life if you don’t laugh, you cry. In all seriousness, though, there is something healing about being able to laugh together (even if it is secretly at the antics of your children). We McCormicks are fools for laughter. This may not serve our children well in school (please don’t let them be in the class clown troupe, Lord!), but it serves our marriage and family well. With the valleys in life – death, illness, financial struggles, job losses, unexpected hardships – laughter keeps the wind in our sails and reminds us that there is joy even in the darkest times of our life.
- Ask questions, show interest, and listen actively. I’m guilty of the blank stare when the Hubs is talking and the kids are talking and all the noise is coming at me at once. Mea culpa. Take the time to really listen to what your spouse is saying though. So often it isn’t just what is being said out loud, but the feeling between the lines that reveals something of their heart and soul. Learn to hear that.
- Take care of yourself so you can be a full partner. So often I stretch myself too thin, or have this or that ailment. It keeps my focus on my pain or exhaustion instead of on how I can give more of myself to Team McCormick. I’ll be the first to admit that I am terrible at self care, but it isn’t a selfish thing to take some time to yourself and make those appointments to deal with “all the things” now and not “someday.” Seek wholeness for yourself so you can continue to give your all to your partner in crime and the minions that come your way.
- Encourage friendship. My last point leads me to this one. It isn’t a detriment to your marriage for you both to have good friendships outside of one another. At no time should this replace your relationship, but solid friendships can strengthen you and add perspective. I treasure my close gal pals (did I just say gal pal?), and I absolutely encourage my husband to seek out friends that will strengthen him as well.
So, eight years has brought a little different perspective than the first four years did (and a shorter list!). The flowery words don’t flow as freely anymore, mostly because there is little quiet space for them to come to life. The love, though. The love still flows though it looks different. That’s the thing much of the world today doesn’t get, right? Love transforms through time. It’s not just about the butterflies and fireworks. Butterflies move on and fireworks burn out – it is the nature of things. The real work of love – it is quiet and steady and constant. It is a shelter, a refuge, even when we may not feel all the feels.
How do you keep your focus on loving your spouse well during the chaos of raising kids?
Copyright 2017 Rakhi McCormick