Marriage Monday: Marriage Centered, Not Child Centered

Welcome Focus on the Family and Family Life listeners.  I have the privilege of being featured on both programs today!

The Family Life program runs for three days.  It’s a conversation with Dennis Rainey and Bob Lepine about Living With Less So Your Family Has More.  If you’re looking for more Living With Less encouragement you’ll find it on my blog over to the right…just click on “Living With Less.”  (If you get my blog by email, you’ll find them here.)

If you want to listen to the Family Life program, you can find it online here.

Over on Focus on the Family today I’m talking with Dr. Julianna Slattery about keeping your marriage a priority in the midst of parenting. Much of this comes from my book Is There Really Sex After Kids?  If you’re looking for more marriage encouragement you can find it here every Monday and over on the right where you can click on “Marriage.”  (If you receive my blog by email, you’ll find them here.)

You can listen to the Focus on the Family program online here.

Since today is Marriage Monday, we’re going to build on today’s conversation on Focus on the Family of keeping your marriage a priority.

Mark says…
Jill and I had been married only 11 months when the stick turned blue.  I was 23 and Jill was 20.  I was working for a family business and Jill was working to finish her degree in music education.

Jill says…
I had Anne my junior year and 18 months later, I was pregnant with Evan.  I had him on my graduation day (needless to say, they mailed me my diploma!)

Mark says…
We jumped into parenthood doing the best that we could juggling work, school, church, and family. But somewhere around year seven of our marriage, we found ourselves sitting in a counselors office.

Jill says…
We didn’t realize that we had made an almost fatal mistake that too many couples make: we had put our children before our marriage.

Mark says…
Through counseling, we learned that our children needed us to make our marriage a priority.  Sure, they might make it hard for us to do that, but we have to rise above the challenges and make time to invest in our marriage.

Jill says…
The first challenge is finding the time to make regular investments in our marriage. Sometimes it can happen while our kids are at home and sometimes it needs to happen away from our kids.

Mark says…
Jill and I initially tried to find “us” time after the kids went to bed.  This worked while the kids were small and were consistently in bed by 8pm.  Sometimes we would play a game like Yahtzee or Scrabble.

Jill says…
However, as we added more kids and the older ones had later bedtimes that plan didn’t work so well anymore.  We then moved to Kitchen Time/Porch Time where we took 15 minutes either before dinner or after dinner to talk about 1) how our day was and 2) what our plans for the evening are.  This helped us work together.

Mark says…
We also found other families that we could trade sitting with.  We’d traded dates every Friday or Saturday night for many years.  This allowed us to take our kids to our friends house and come back to spend time alone at home.  It didn’t even cost a dime!

Jill says…
Eventually as the kids have grown, we’ve found more time that’s just the two of us.  But that doesn’t automatically mean that it’s all good.  We can have time on our hands and still be like strangers to one another.  We have to keep reinventing our relationship, investing in deeper conversations and new activities together.

Mark says…
There are two important takeaways from today’s conversation:

1) We have to keep evaluating and changing our strategies for keeping our marriage a priority.  As our life changes and our children grow older, we have to adjust.

2) Investing in our marriage is hard work.  It takes time, effort, and tenacity.  Too often we want to say, “This just isn’t worth it.”  However, it’s ALWAYS worth it.

So what about you?  How do you keep your marriage a priority?

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2 Responses to Marriage Monday: Marriage Centered, Not Child Centered

  1. Melissa says:

    Jill,
    Good reminder to keep marriage a priority :) In this particular season (2 kids: 2 1/2 and 7 months, husband trying to build up home business while still working 9-5 as well), we find that adding a going-out date is sometime just too much busyness in an already pretty busy day. While we do still do that, its more like once every month rather than every other week or every week. What we do instead is enjoy times together *with* the kids. A walk with them in the stroller usually leads to great connection and conversation; as does a family snuggle on Saturday morning in our bed or making pancakes together. We are finding more and more, God intended us to make a priority of each other even with others around. A lot of times its as simple as taking a few minutes with the Lord to get me in the right frame of mind (ie gentle and quiet spirit; filled with fruits of spirit like kindness and patience) before my husband comes home and making a point of serving him when hes here rather than expecting him to serve me. A cheerful wife is so much easier to love, even when theres a lot going on and no time for a date :)

  2. Julie says:

    You are right, it can be extremely hard to work on your marriage and oh so very easy to just let it go. The busyness of life can often just get in the way and the relationship deteriorates from neglect as any other living thing would.
    Divorce is just too easy to come by these days and so many couples take that route as it seems easier then to work on their marriage.
    My husband and I are trying to find time for us with very little babysitting resources available to us. This can prove quite challenging amidst all the juggling we all do. Sometimes us time comes to us in small increments of time. 30 seconds of a hug and a kiss in the kitchen may be all we get, so we try and make the most of it.
    Walks in the park as a family and the rare occasional time alone without our son are just a couple of ways we enjoy each other, but we also try and make a point to say something nice to each other in addition to the typical I love you. Emails, texts and even little notes expressing our appreciation for each other such as, “I appreciate it that you had dinner made and the dishes done before I even came home from work. It really helped me out when I had to work late.” These little comments not only make the other person feel loved, they feel appreciated and needed.
    Just like we should do for our children, we need to catch our spouse doing something right as much as we can and acknowledge it.
    Thank you for your great reminder that we have some really important work to do – the work on our marriage which of course benefits more than just the married couple, it benefits the children. And just like ripples in a pond a strong marriage benefits the whole family, the families around them, the community and ultimately the world we live in.