In my life, there have been few times that were simultaneously amazing and terrible. One of those was when our daughter was born. And not because of anything she did or didn’t do. It just was.
I’ll never forget the moment we became parents. I looked at this beautifully ugly little thing and fell in love immediately. She cried out with the smallest voice I had ever heard and I was completely wrapped around her finger. It was amazing.
And that first night home? HORRIBLE!
We had no clue what we were doing and any time she made the smallest of noises we rushed to pick her up thinking something was wrong. And because we were picking her up at any noise we wouldn’t let her sleep which meant she was screaming and that meant we weren’t sleeping. No one slept that first night.
We eventually learned not to do that. We also learned her squawks and cries and what she wanted or needed. But one thing no one talked to use about was just how lonely and draining it got being new parents. And it was the same with our second child.
Being a new parent or having a baby (toddler/small child) is hard work. Those little people depend on you for everything little thing they need. If you don’t give it to them then they don’t get it. And that’s a massive responsibility.
Don’t get me wrong…it was and is still a joy to parent our children. But there have been some difficult seasons during that time. And one of the hardest was toward the beginning.
I’m not a parenting guru or expert on much of anything (if at all) but I am a parent and have worked alongside families for almost 20 years. I have seen things that work really well and things that have failed monumentally. Here are a few things I’ve learned about maintaining your marriage when you have kids.
It has to be priority #1. One of our biggest mistakes was not talking through and actually making the decision that our marriage was the first priority. It’s an easy mistake to make. Think about it…if you have a new baby or small child, who in the family needs the most attention and work? Your child. But if you live your family life that way who will suffer the most from it? Your child.
Your children cannot be #1. They can be second but not number one. Your relationship with your husband or wife must take priority. If that relationship falls apart it can and will damage your child for life.
You must decide that your relationship with your spouse is the most important relationship. Even if it hasn’t been in the past…do it now. Sit down with your husband or wife and have that conversation. Decide together that you both will be intentional about keeping your marriage in that top slot and then set about doing it. You will be much healthier together as a couple and as parents.
Easier said than done right? Here’s a couple of ways you can start doing that immediately.
You can’t truly be in sync with each other if you’re not spiritually connected. This is the deepest level of intimacy you can have with another human being. Being spiritually intimate with your spouse is deeper than emotional or physical intimacy.
I started out being physically attracted to my wife but it didn’t stop there. It couldn’t. I’ve been physically attracted to plenty of people over my life but because I married my wife it had to be more. I was emotionally attracted to her. We connected on a deeper level. She made me laugh and think. She pushed me intellectually. I wanted to know her mind.
But it didn’t stop there. It couldn’t. Because there have been plenty of people that I have connected with emotionally.
My wife knows me better than anyone on the planet because we connect spiritually. We share prayer together and commune together. Over years and years, we have shared fears and failures, we’ve experienced joys and wins. Our spiritual life feeds everything else as husband and wife.
I know that when we pray she hears God’s voice long before I do. Each time we’ve prayed over something big I have learned to trust what she discerns. She’s much more receptive to the Holy Spirit than I am. And I know that because of our spiritual intimacy.
Start praying together.
Even if it’s small prayers. Start your day by praying for each other. End your day praying for each other. Pray for each other when you’re apart. Text each other that you’re praying for them, especially if you know something is going on that day.
Make your spiritual life part of your marriage routine and see what happens.
Date Each Other
Remember how you flirted with your spouse when you were dating? Remember the little things you did? Do those things again.
I love it when my wife flirts with me. Dude…there is nothing else that makes me feel more like a man than when she lets me know that she still thinks I’m hot.
Go on dates. And they don’t have to be a stereotypical date. Do what you guys like to do. My wife and I like having dinner as a family. That’s a huge priority for us. So we do lunch dates. My day off in the week is Monday. So Monday’s we like to hit thrift stores and just browse. We’ll go to several of them and see what’s out there. One of our favorites is a local place called The Repurpose Project. Then when we’re done we’ll go have lunch somewhere together.
Just us. Spending the day together. We talk about anything and everything. I look forward to our date days. I love them.
So find what works for you and your family and then do it.
Do What Married People Do
Let’s be really honest here…as parents’ sex can fall way down on the priority list. But don’t let it. God designed sex to be good and fun and pleasurable within the context of marriage. So do it.
When you’re a parent it can become difficult to find time. In the morning you have to get ready, get the kids ready and then get to work. And by the time the days over you’re exhausted from work and kids and homework and sports and on and on and on.
But don’t neglect sex with your spouse. It’s important for you to be physically intimate with your husband or wife. Enjoy each other. God designed you both for this.
Even if you have to schedule it. Put it on your calendar and then enjoy. Do what married people do.
This is by no means a comprehensive list of how to stay connected during some pretty isolating seasons of life. But these are some good places to start. How do you stay connected as husband and wife? What have you learned that you could share with other? We would love to hear from you. Comment below or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.