Children, especially young children, can take up a lot of our attention as adults. This is something I was told when we brought our first baby home. The problem, mainly for mothers, is that when you have a baby or little one and are home all day we are getting a LOT of touch and quality time. We are kissing, hugging and holding our little ones for hours and hours and our tank becomes full. Then our husband comes home after working all day and want to be filled up as well, and we are exhausted and filled to the brim. If we do not remember to fill up our husbands, areas of our marriage get neglected.
You may have heard before marriage must look like this ‘formula.’ It seems to be very popular these days, I assume it is because it works. We see this formula laid out over the bible as a guideline God gives to us to follow.
- First comes God
- Second comes your Spouse
- Third comes your Children
Let’s break this down. First, comes God because God needs to come first in every single area of our life. Deuteronomy 6:5, “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” All of our heart, soul, and strength is to be committed to loving God, making Him the first priority. That includes become above and before our marriage and our parenting. God designed marriage, it is a representation of Christ’s love for the church. God cannot be excluded from this equation. The bible says in Ephesians 5 ‘Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.’ If we look at Christ’s relationship with the church, he gave his life up for her. This is the love we should replicate in our marriage. A love that is sacrificial, genuine, meek, and a different love then what the world is going to have and offer.
Second, our marriage comes next, after God and BEFORE the children. It is very important to stay connected with our spouses.
We need to pour into our marriage daily, weekly, monthly and yearly. Here are some tips on how to prioritize your marriage
Daily: Try and spend at least 10 minutes together a day. Affirm each other. Make it a goal to build your
partner up at least once per day. Never stop saying I Love You or kissing either.
Weekly: A weekly date night, it can be at home and as budget friendly as you need it to be. Don’t make finances an excuse, if you are sitting at home watching a movie together for free, that is still a date night. It is about spending time together not all the bells and whistles of a fancy restaurant. I have heard the advice ‘don’t talk about kids, work or the house while on a date night’ and then you sit down and all you can think about it those things! What we have started doing is the first 15-20 minutes of date night are allotted towards those items; we get it all out on the table and then try to move on and have a date night without bringing up those topics. It is very helpful if you are like me and once you get a thought, it’s almost impossible not to get it out.
Monthly: Get out together. Do your best to get out, away from the home and kids, and be alone together for an entire evening or day. These longer periods of time keep you connected and build up your relationship. If you have found yourself not able to find things to talk about without bringing up the kids or work, print out some ‘conversation starters’ or ‘date night topics’ you can easily find on the internet and start asking each other them. It is amazing once the conversations start flowing how much you can learn about your spouse, even if you have been married for years! Our best date nights have come out of this activity, although my husband gets very embarrassed when I pull them out in a restaurant haha.
Yearly: Make a goal to go on a 1-night minimum stay away from the kids. You can plan it around an anniversary or birthday or just a weekend that someone can watch the kids. This is extremely important to keep connected away from kids.
God wants us each to play a specific and important role in our marriage to fulfill the needs we each have as man and women in our marriages. Life throws all kinds of curveballs, busyness will try and kill your intimacy, the enemy will try to break apart your Godly marriage. We need to be proactive in countering those efforts.
Third, our children follow. As a married couple we have a lot of responsibility from God on how we are to raise our children up to be disciples in this world. Proverbs 22:6 6 Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. Raising children is a team effort in need of both sides of the equation, mother and father, to succeed. The problem is that children can be a stressors for a marriage. When they are little, they are needy and literally depend on you for everything which affects how much time and energy you can give to your marriage. Then once they get older, they keep us busy with extra-curricular activities, they stay up later in the evenings and they require a lot of us as we raise them into godly humans. They really do take up a lot of our time. We need to always remember that regardless of how much time and energy are put into our children, we need to do equal or more into our marriage. That may require some changes in some of our choices if that is not the case. They also cause stress in other ways like financials, worry and anxiety, distancing themselves from us as parents. These all weigh very heavy on parents and occupy a lot of our emotional and mental thoughts. That can easily trickle into our sacred marriage time when something is bothering us or worrying us about our children.
If we confused this equation and put the children before our marriage; after all the diapers and sleepless nights, the playdates and sleepovers, the discipline and teaching, the tears and the laughter that all comes with raising children, your children will grow up and leave the home. You will wake up next to someone you once knew, but have not spent those year’s pouring into and that is where marriages suffer and lose their depth. That is why it is very important to stick to the formula of:
- First comes God
- Second comes your Spouse
- Third comes your Children
Now, it is important to recognize that I am not discouraging pouring into our children and making them a priority in our life. I am simply making Marriage more important, as backwards as that might sound. The first time I ever heard this, I almost felt offended. How could someone be telling me that anything could be more important than my children! As I grow in spiritual maturity, I now see how God’s formula works and am beginning to understand why they are in the order that they appear.
It is also important to remember there are different seasons of life we go through. When we have little babies and toddlers, it is going to be a very different season to when they are teenagers. Don’t beat yourself up because you’re in a heavier season with lots of little ones grabbing for your attention. I would encourage you to just be intentional and communicate to your spouse the way’s you are trying to prioritize your marriage above the chaos. Sometimes the communication makes all the difference, even if the actions are harder to follow through with, your spouse still knows you are there and that you care. As the kids get older, the seasons will change and there will be more time and energy more readily available. I do not want anyone to be discouraged if you have young one’s at home and feel like they are failing as a wife, you are not. The enemy would like you to believe that, and many other lies’ about God’s perfect design of marriage.
Throughout the bible we are taught this formula that God has designed, if we stick to it we have a high chance of coming out on the other side with an intimate relationship with God, a thriving marriage and godly children who love the Lord. Although there are obstacles we must face in the journey, if we trust the creator we are sure to get past each and every one of them.