So to continue our series I wanted to talk about spending time with your spouse. You may be saying "well ya, obviously!" But even though we know in our heads that this is a very important thing to actually do...sometimes it's much easier said than done!
Relationship in marriage does not just happen...it needs to be cultivated and nurtured. Too many couples make the mistake of thinking that once they get married they will be with each other daily and the marriage bond will just happen. This may be true in the first few years, but after awhile it's not so easy. People and things start to take more and more of our time away from each other. It may be a job, ministry, friends or even our own children that causes this to happen. They may all be "good" things....but too many times they/it can steal our time. And often it happens so slowly that we barely recognize it!
What does it mean to make your marriage a priority? Well, just that. Making your spouse the most important part of your day. Giving your spouse the best of you, not the leftovers.
I can hear all the young moms saying, "I can barely get the food on the table, keep the house clean or get the laundry done. And now you want to add another thing on my plate? I am telling you this from someone who has been there. I have had many little ones and no big help. I have been up countless numbers of times in the night with a newborn. I have had the overwhelming feelings that I was never going to get all the work done that I needed to. But I can also tell you something else...... I have never, ever regretted the time that I have invested into our marriage. In fact, I wish I had done it more.
We have seen many couples who have poured all of their time and energies into their children in their growing up years and then one day their children leave the home and what are they left with...two people who barely know each other. Why? Because all of their time was spent investing in others while ignoring the relationship that started it all! Please don't let this be what happens to you.
This doesn't have to be something complicated, or take a lot of money. It can be just the simple little things that will make a huge difference. The most important thing it takes a change of mindset. It takes you asking the question every day, "Who is the most important person in my life?" It takes evaluating at the end of the day, "Who did I invest the most of my time/energy in?" It takes a heart of truly wanting your marriage to be the best that it can be and the willingness to take the effort to make it so.
Mark and I love to be on dates together. We find this a great time where we can focus on each other without having to wipe a child's nose, bring one to the bathroom, or answer the 'oh so urgent' question. It's a time where we can give each other our undivided attention. A time where we can have heart to hearts without little ears listening in. Over the years, depending on our situation, we have had many kinds of "dates" Some have been going out somewhere, many have been combined with our weekly shopping trip, some have been overnighters and some have just been at home. Probably my most memorable dates have been the ones where we put the kids in bed and then have our own romantic candlelit supper. It takes no money, just a bit of time and planning. And wives, a word to you. It is not always the husbands job to make a date happen. As long as you are in tune with the finances and knowing your husbands schedule you can plan the date! Or you can make a special evening at home for the two of you. Don't make it his job and get all offended if he never plans anything! You can do this to!
We have led the course "Growing Kids God's Way" many times over the past 15+ years. We so appreciate that the Ezzos saw fit to teach on the importance of a strong marriage in the raising of our children. They make the point that when your marriage is strong it offers security to your children. If they know that you love each other, their little world feels so secure. They talk about going on dates and telling your children, "This is for your good!" We have said that to our children many times over the years when they have asked to come with us. We tell them, "No, we are going on a date...and it's for your good!" And they often smile from ear to ear :) This sends a message to your children that your marriage is worth investing in and that it's very important to both of you. And even though their little minds may not understand it...their hearts do. Now when our children hear that we are going on date the word spreads quickly throughout the family and you hear the children all saying to each other excitedly, "Dad and Mom are going on a date!" It really makes their heart glad! Now a word of caution here....if you have had a home where your children have been the centre of attention and you have not made your marriage a priority, you are probably going to feel some resistance from your children. There may be bouts of crying and making you feel real bad about leaving them, but remember to tell them and yourself, "This is for your good!"
But dates aren't the only way to make your marriage a priority although that is a very good tool. Think back to before you were married. When you were away from your love, who did you think about? I think most of our responses would be, "I thought about my love, ALL DAY LONG!" Do you know it can still be that way? You can purpose to think about, give notes, pray for, send texts to your love throughout the day. And when you do you are making a statement, "You are the most important person in my life. When you are gone I think about you." What about when your husband comes home. What do you do? Do you give him your time and attention. Ask him how his day was? Do you make him feel like you missed him while he was gone? Or do your kids get the upper hand with Daddy? You may have to fight your way in there to give your hubby some loving :)
I hope you are getting the picture here. It's not about "what" you do, it's not about "you have to go for a date once a week" or rules like that, it's about your heart attitude towards your marriage. It's about being intentional to making your marriage a priority. It's about not letting your everyday life take over your marriage relationship. It's about loving each other enough to make this work. Remember, it's all a matter of your heart! How much effort are you willing to put into it? How important is your marriage to you?