When my new friend, Lisa Brown, asked me to join her community of writers as a mentor mom, I couldn’t help but giggle a bit since I find that being a grown up is highly overrated. With Thorin’s key around my neck, my superhero belt on, surrounded by my favorite toys, I hardly feel qualified to be a mentor to anyone. But despite my seeming immaturity, I have lived quite a few years on the planet and have the privilege to be called Mom by four incredible people. More pertinent though, I’ve been increasingly feeling a stirring in my heart to encourage other mamas and to share the insights and observations I have gathered along my motherhood journey.
So last week, hard at work crafting my first monthly missive to you, I was feeling fairly satisfied with the way the piece turned out. Setting it aside, I went to sleep, confident it would be polished and ready for consumption well before my deadline. When I woke the next morning, in rereading the work I’d done, something didn’t feel right. Normally that means the Holy Spirit is saying, “Scrap that for now, I have something different you need to write.” So, after praying for a few days on this, I feel I’m supposed to share what I find is the most important foundation for parenting, besides of course, a solid, vibrant walk with our Creator.
Let’s go back to the beginning, shall we?
“So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them…. Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good!” (Genesis 1:27 & 31, NLT)
Notice something key here that’s really easy to overlook. God said here that his creation ‘was very good’, yet there were no children in the picture yet. Children, apparently were not necessary to complete the family unit. The family was created when the man and woman were brought together. Children would augment the family unit, enriching it, but the absence of children did not diminish the legitimacy of the first family, comprised of only man and woman.
So if marriage is the earthly foundation for our family, what should that look like?
Your mate comes first. Now I know this raises the hackles for some of you, doesn’t it? It can seem to go against our ingrained mommy instincts, but please hear me out. I am not advocating neglecting your children, nor am I suggesting you live in servitude to your man. I am telling you that maintaining the integrity of your marital relationship is your first priority. So how do we do this when we’re knee-deep in diapers and snot? Here are a few suggestions that have worked wonderfully for my husband and I.
Play. It’s far too easy to get caught up in the mounds of laundry, the endless meal planning, and the myriad other duties motherhood brings. It’s like that Greek character, Sisyphus, whose punishment was to roll an immense boulder up a steep hill, only to have it roll back down…again and again, for all of eternity. Isn’t that how our days feel sometimes?
Play with your husband. Take a break and go for a walk. Play a card or board game. Tickle and wrestle and dance. Involve the kids too, but make this a priority with your spouse. The dishes will be there later, and the laundry pile won’t change, but adding some levity to your day just might make the duties seem a bit lighter. Serving people you have fun with takes the drudgery out of everyday tasks.
Flirt. Remember how it was when you were first falling in love, the come-hither looks, the subtle touches, the electricity? Those things must be nurtured and practiced. We can’t maintain the early high of love, but we can retain much of that magic with conscious effort and with the added element of time, it can be even sweeter than it was in the beginning.
To the men in the audience: let your wife flirt without automatically assuming she wants the whole enchilada. If you are raring to go every time she touches you, she is likely to stop. Instead, continue to woo her. Do the dishes, pick up the vacuum, play with the kids, and just snuggle with her sometimes. If that doesn’t make her amorous, I’m not sure what will!
To you ladies, don’t let motherhood take away your sexuality. I know you’re tired, but you need physical intimacy to stay connected, release tension, and for your physical health. Don’t neglect this!
Carve out time alone. At some point in your day, make time to connect with your spouse. This world is a noisy and distracting place, and especially when kids are in the mix you must be deliberate about creating uninterrupted time. Even ten minutes of focused attention, without the distractions of kids or electronic devices will strengthen your marriage.
In addition, find a sitter and have regular dates. Better yet, leave them with a trusted person and take a weekend away to connect with your spouse without interruption. You won’t scar your babies by leaving them with Grandma once in a while, and you can function outside of your role as mommy. I promise.
Aside from keeping you connected as a couple, alone times will afford you opportunities to discuss family matters in a relaxed, non-confrontational setting. It also gives your children opportunities to bond with and learn from other trusted adults who may have strengths and talents very different than yours.
Next month, Lord willing, I will give some practical thoughts on what parenting as a marriage team looks like. For now I’d like to leave you with this thought:
“As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one.” (Ephesians 5:31-32, NLT)
We are the first reflection of God our children see. If our marriages are a picture of our relationship with Jesus, what sort of picture are we painting for our kids?
With that in mind, here are a few questions to consider:
Is my marriage vibrant and fun?
Is forgiveness and grace an every day occurrence?
Do my kids see how crazy we are about each other?
Is this relationship alive?
Grace and peace to you today, my friends.
**I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments! Do you think your husband should come first?
few of my favorite posts from my blog, Building Standing Stones:
On our true identity:
Come on over and visit me at Building Standing Stones. Hope to see you there!