"For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh."--Gen. 2:24 As a mom, my days are often full of kid-oriented activities. There are meals to cook, books to read, appointments to keep, chauffeuring to do. I am sure that your day is probably a lot like mine.
But before I became a mom, I was first a wife. This has been hard for me to learn, but as much as my kids need me, my first relational priority must be caring for my husband. I admit I have been guilty of putting him off, especially when the children were teeny tiny. After all, I thought, he is an adult and can handle it. However, when I look back now, I can see that is not the wisest thing for me to do. It was especially difficult when our youngest was born three years ago. Only in recent months have we gotten back on track. (Maybe it has something to do with age and lost brain cells?)
When Dan and I first got married almost 17 years ago, we spent a lot of time hanging around with people who were just a few steps ahead of us. One of most significant things that I learned back then was that as wonderful as kids are, our family begins with us as husband and wife. We often speak of "starting a family" synonymously with having children. But according to Genesis 2:24, it seems like the family begins when a man and woman leave their families of origin and start their own. When children are born or adopted, they are added to the family that has already been in existence. As additional children are added, they join the family. Children enlarge, not begin, the family.
This one lesson has been one that has shaped our understanding of our own family. To be honest, it has been tested many times because the children's needs are often far more pressing or urgent. Certainly, in the early months of introducing a new child into the home, I believe there are exceptions. However, we often end up getting into bad habits of continually pushing our husbands to the side. Over time, this can result in more and more distance between husband and wife. (I qualify as Exhibit A.) This shift in focus is not healthy for us or for our children. Ironically, it seems that the best thing we can do for the children is not devote all our time to them, but to make an effort to grow and nurture our marriages. In doing so, we then create the strong foundation of family that children need to grow and thrive.
One of the things my husband and I have committed to doing is having a date night each week. We started doing this when our marriage was at a very low point about two years ago. Every Wednesday night (that's what works for us), after the kids went to bed, we would spend some time together. Once a month, we actually went out for dinner. The other weeks we would just sit on the couch and catch up with one another. Nothing big. Nothing fancy. Sometimes it was nothing more than just sitting together. Sometimes it was stony silences and tears. Last night, we cleaned out a pile of stuff out of our room. Whatever it was, we were together.
Second to a strong, intimate relationship with God, we need a strong, intimate relationship with our husbands. Together, these two relationships form a firm, secure foundation for our children. In "The Soda Fountain" section of the site, we'll talk about ways we can strengthen our marriages so that we will be able to bless our husbands and our children. I invite you to share your areas of concern, questions that you may have or suggestions that you would like to share in the comment box below so that we may grow together in this area. I may not have the answers, but perhaps someone else might.
God bless you as you invest in your marriage. Your children will thank you.