Finding the Sparkle in the Peanut Butter Stage of Life: Marriage During the Preschool Years

Today’s post is from MariLee Parrish. MariLee is a workshop speaker at our 2012 Hearts at Home conferences. The author of many books including 50Ways to Improve Your Relationship with Your Husband,  she is a wife and mom who regularly finds peanut butter globs in mysterious places. Learn more at


Recently, I’ve been speaking to moms groups about marriage during the rough stuff. Particularly the preschool season of life where marriage sometimes feels messy, stinky, and just plain hard.

I shared an embarrassing story about my first job out of college when my husband and I were newly engaged and I mistakenly went throughout my day, attending meetings and shaking people’s hands, with a big blob of peanut butter covering my diamong ring! How that happened I’ll never know (I mean, it was before kids!) but I was horrified!

As I was remembering all of that recently, it clearly illustrated this current season of our lives as the parents of a 4 year old and an infant.

I have found that moms in the preschool stage of life often feel like we have a big blob of peanut butter covering the sparkles of our marriage. (And sometimes we even smell like peanut butter, now what kind of aphrodisiac is that?!)

Truth be told, marriage is hard work for my husband and I right now. It seems like the enemy has tried every trick in his book to trip us up since we’ve been married: miscarriages, major financial problems, health issues, family struggles…you name it and it seems like it has been thrown our way.

So how do we hang on and keep the sparkles alive in our marriages during times of great stress?

I certainly don’t have all the answers but I know who does… and I’ll tell you that the God of Heaven has wrapped His arms around me during these hard times and has been more real to me –and my husband– than I could have ever imagined.

1. Seek Him. Alone and together. Ask God to be the very center of your life and your relationship. Read Psalm 139 as a couple and start relating to God on a moment-by-moment basis.
2. Keep Dating Each Other. You might not feel like you’re still in love, but you can change that! Love is a choice and your attitude towards your relationship is a choice. If you can’t afford a babysitter, trade babysitting with a trusted friend or have a weekly “coffee date” at home after the kids are in bed.
3. Laugh. Try to keep your sense of humor even in the worst of circumstances. Your stress level affects your health and the well-being of your children. Laughing takes off the edge. Write down the funny things your kids say and laugh out loud when they say them.

I have decided that when life smells like peanut butter…the best thing to do is make dessert! Literally and figuratively. Make the best of it because the season you are in will not last. As a wise mother once told me, “The days may seem long, but the years go by fast!”

P.S…here’s my favorite peanut butter dessert! ☺



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9 thoughts on “Finding the Sparkle in the Peanut Butter Stage of Life: Marriage During the Preschool Years

  1. Thank you Jill for posting this and thank you Marilee for your insight and wisdom. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this today. God is faithful. He knew I needed this reminder today.

  2. I totally agree Marilee! When life gets tough for my husband and I or we feel distant from each other, we do all 3 of those points and we are back on track. We all need to guard our marriages fiercely. I love what you said about love being a choice. Marriage is hard but the fun of it far outweighs the yucky stuff, especially if we have God at the center. Thanks for this!

  3. Long days and short years are the mainstay of parenting. Thanks for the reminder that parenting small children is a phase of life that will pass; commitment to marriage is a forever endeavor.

  4. Thanks for the fun reminder that we are not alone in this goofy stage of life, that the most important thing is our relationship with our heavenly father, and that a close second has to be our spouse. Trading babysitting with friends sounds great! Hint…hint. : ) You are such a blessing to know and to watch develop as a woman and a mother. Thanks for the words of wisdom today.

  5. Thanks for the article, MariLee. You know… for Rick and I it has so much to do with lack of sleep. After our 2nd kiddo was born we didn’t sleep much for 3 months (colic). That was really the only time we talked about divorce. We were so deadbeat tired and run down. We’re about to deliver our 4th child now and we both work from home. We get along pretty darn well but lack of sleep combined with grumpy kids can certainly make for a bad day. Seeking Christ and His teachings of peace and humility are not always easy but it always helps when we try! Like you mention, laughter is a big part of our daily lives. It’s like medicine in our home and I attempt to keep that at the forefront of our family life. We need to work harder on the dating thing, though. We spend every day together and we spend so much time with the kids… we often forget to actually go on a DATE 🙂

  6. Well said, MariLee. I love how you termed this stage of life, and hubby and I are in the throes of spit up, sticky fingers and potty training. Great words for these days, and the reminder that Gd is with us in all of our stages. I think I’ve come to a greater appreciation of my husband as I watch him as a father! Thanks for blessing us once again with your words!

  7. Thank you Jill and MariLee for sharing this post! Matt and I have had plenty of rough patches over the past year with a difficult pregnancy, the loss of Matt’s job and finding a new one at the other end of the state at the time I was to deliver, and the loss of our home to foreclosure. But when we reached rock bottom and felt like we couldn’t go on, God answered our prayers by having the delivery of our healthy baby girl on a weekend Matt was home from his new job, an affordable place to rent minutes away from his job, as well as a job for me close to home that fits in perfectly with Matt’s work schedule. We trusted in God and as a result things fell into place for the better. I look back on those moments and am thankful to have a husband who reminded me to trust God through it all. Looking forward to implementing your “dating” time into our schedule in the very near future! Thanks and God Bless!

  8. I absolutely agree! It’s so easy to lose that sparkle in the hum drum days of baby/toddlerhood but keeping your marriage at the for front is just SO important! Thanks for sharing!

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