Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Attention All Wives- This One Is For You!

I am writing to all of you dear ladies out there who have one of those guys we call a husband. I love mine dearly. He is my best friend in the whole world. He is helpful, kind, respectful, and leads our family well.

I. Love. Him.

We've been married 12 years and in those 12 years, we've done some growing together. I don't want to pretend here that I have the perfect marriage, but I also don't want to be falsely humble- so the truth is, I have a pretty awesome marriage. It's not perfect, but it's good. We don't have (and never have had) slamming-door fights or nights spent on the couch. In fact, we've never slept a night of our marriage apart (though we have found ourselves separated by ill children and the like, we've not ever been outside of the same structure at night time. And we feel pretty good about that record!)We work together, in partnership with God, to keep our love alive.

But lately, there is something that's bugging me. Not about my husband. (Ok, the way he leaves his dirty clothes on the floor next to the bed all the time kind of bugs me, but then again, my habit of washing his cup the moment it touches the counter bugs him, so we're even I suppose). What's bugging me is competition for my time. I feel awful to admit this, but if there is one person in my life that suffers because of my poor time management choices, it's my husband. All day long, as a Mom, I put aside what I want to do or even need to do for my kids, but somehow, when they go to bed, it's easy for me to say to him, "Hold on, I'll be there in a minute (which in reality means 126 minutes). Either that, or I am there next to him, but I'm not truly "there"- I'm distracted or zoned out after a long day. I feel like he sometimes gets the leftovers of my energy and I am tired of it.

Now to cut all of us moms a little slack, I do think after a day of little people tugging on you and getting covered with all kinds of goo and serving lots of snacks and cleaning up messes that we deserve some down time. Some quiet. Some peace even. I'm not insinuating that we don't deserve some alone time once in a while. What I am saying is that there is this guy who loves and supports me. Who works hard all day and would love to be a part of my world for a couple of hours a night and have me to himself. And honestly, I LOVE just spending time with my husband. He's fun! He's kind! We laugh together! We enjoy being with one another. It's just-wow-at the end of the day, sometimes I feel a selfish part of me coming to the surface. Sometimes I feel like it's easier just to retreat into mindless TV or Facebook or Pinterest than actually talk to him. Like with multiple words. Sentences even.

It's becoming clear to me that there is a war against and within marriage. It is a series of battles over small and large things. I don't believe we are fighting one another in these battles- no dear sister, we are fighting the enemy of marriage, the enemy of love: satan- the ultimate enemy and father of lies. He so wants us to be distracted and indifferent toward our spouse. Because he knows the power of a couple surrendered to God and one another and he's scared. And he should be! satan knows that God has designed marriage to be a shelter from the world where we can find strength and comfort. God has designed us to work together for the Kingdom. And that partnership can pose a real threat to the enemy. But somehow, that partnership often gets put on the back burner.

Attention all Wives- It's time to make our marriage the priority that it should be! Here are some simple things I am working on to do just that in my own marriage.

1. Make God the center of your marriage. Pray for your spouse. Throughout the day, as he comes to your mind, ask God to bless and protect him mentally, physically, and spiritually. Read the Bible or a book based on Biblical principles. If your marriage is struggling, read a Christ-centered book on marriage together. Talk about God. Worship together. If you think about your marriage and realize that God is not a part of it, make that the first change because it is the most important aspect. Ask God to give you more energy! We need that! He'll give you exactly what you need to do His will- and His will is for you to have a healthy marriage. So if you're lacking in an area- ask God for His strength and power in that area. Do not try to tackle fixing your marriage on your own strength. Ain't gonna happen.

2. Fix your schedule. Did God intend for families to be split up, taking kids to all manner of activities every evening of the week so that the husband and wife just see each other in passing on the driveway? Silly question. No He did not. Prioritize and rearrange. God first, Spouse second, Kids third. Activities fourth. Simple. Defend your time. You can say no to things. Try it. Your marriage and family are worth the temporary dejection someone else will experience. Also, think hard about your day and try, as best as you are able, to get your dishes, your laundry, all those joyful things done during the day to free up your evening time to spend with your spouse. I hate putting the kids to bed and then having to trudge through a dozen chores before finally getting to spend time with my man. Because by then, I am tired and feeling the fresh angst that comes with folding 8 baskets of laundry. I have 3 tornadoes, I mean children, in my house. I know all of this doesn't happen easily. If you're like me, you've got to relax your standards a bit. Something we are working on as a family is a 20 minute clean up time after dinner in which everyone participates. If they see something out of place in any area they clean it up. It makes the post-children's bedtime clean up that much easier and faster. This one is hard for me, but I'm trying. Time is precious. Organize it well. Use it carefully.

3. Put the Phone DOWN! Or TV or whatever other electrical entertainment device has found it's way into your life. Seriously. What is the benefit to your marriage of watching a movie or TV show together? Yes, it's relaxing, kind of entertaining...once in a while? Sure! Every single night INSTEAD of real intimacy? No. If you truly enjoy a show together, I am not saying that you should abandon that joy. What I am saying is that entertainment can detract and distract you from your spouse. Every time we have a power outage, we have no choice but to ditch the electronics and I always vow to NOT fall back into the trap of mindless entertainment once the power is restored, but alas, it is a trap that catches me so easily. Lots of things are vying for our attention. Something we're working on is setting a time limit of 20 minutes on news catch-up, or mindless surfing. When 20 minutes end, the devices need to go. Choose wisely how you spend your alone time. Which leads me to idea #4...

4. Have sex. I am going to be bluntly honest here. Having sex is a pretty obvious part of marriage.  But it's also something that we women tend to push aside selfishly. Sorry girls, but you all know it's true. Yes, we're tired. (I'm sure husbands are often tired as well). Yes, we have had a long day-especially if you work outside of the home AND have to deal with all the domestic stuff on top of all of that. But sex is important- not just for your husband, but for you too. And it can be enjoyed if we'll get our silly, selfish mind out of the way and be committed to making the choice to have sex regularly. What if we stopped thinking of it as something for "him" that we "have to do" and instead think of it as something for "both of us" that we "want to do"? I have heard so many women talk about sex as though it is a chore to be checked off on the to-do list and that makes me sad. It shouldn't be a duty. It should be a great part of your day! There is a study out there somewhere that says the more you have sex, the more you want to have sex. I'm pretty sure it's a real study anyway...if it's not then it should be. It's true! Sex is a beautiful, fun, God-given thing. Be willing to pursue sex. Regularly. If you're both in agreement that you're too tired once in a while, at least have some sleepy snuggle time. It may turn out you weren't that tired after all.  That's all I have to say about that. Moving on!

5. Make time. I'll tell ya- with all the stuff we have going on (and it's all good stuff) in our lives, it leaves little time for dates. This really makes me sad. I love a good date. We ask people to watch our kids all the time for the things we have to do, to the point where I feel bad asking people to watch them for things we just want to do. Plus, I like having our entire family together as much as possible in the evenings. If you can't go out on a formal date, create one at home. Improvise and be creative. Some spontaneity never hurts either. Candlelight chips and salsa. A massage. Sit on the porch swing together and look at the stars. Just whatever, ladies! Make something fun happen! Seasons of life dictate the frequency of dates. We are currently in a super busy season. But seize the moments when you can to get away and enjoy each other. Even if it's on the couch after the kids go to bed!

If you'll pick even just one of the things above and start working on it, I can, with certainty, promise that it will help your marriage. I'm going to be tackling all of them at once because that's just the type of personality I have. All or nothin'. Because I love the gift of my marriage. I want to steward it just as well as I do any other part of my life. I look at my husband playing with our kids, or falling asleep on the couch after a long day at work, or working on a house project and getting covered in drywall dust and I just think, wow. I am so blessed. God has given me a treasure that I can enjoy every day. I want to enjoy him to the fullest and take what's already great about our marriage and make it even more great. Maybe you read this and feel like your marriage could never thrive because it's not good right now, or you don't feel like your husband is on board. Take those feelings to God and ask Him to work in your marriage and then take small steps like those listed above to start investing into what you have. And build on it, and grow. There is potential for every couple, whether in a wonderful marriage, or a horrible marriage, to improve.

The best news is that God is for us. He is for marriage. He is for you. He is for your husband. And if God is for us, who or what can stand against us? Nothing! His love wins, which means that your love, when built on Him, can win too.

Ladies, let's make the commitment. Our marriages are well worth the effort. Who's with me?