Marriage First | 5 Tips for keeping your marriage first, amidst parenting littles. | By Ashlee Proffitt

 

Tomorrow, May 20, 2014, I celebrate 9 years of marriage with my husband.

In those nine years, we have been pregnant 5 times, born 4 children. And now have the sweet and wonderful opportunity to parent 3 children, all day, every day.

In lieu of the normal Intentional Mama post, I thought it might be helpful to talk about one aspect that truly makes a mama intentional. The best and most amazing way a mama can love her children is by loving her husband first and making the marriage a priority before the children. If you are in the throws of parenting littles (i.e. before the ages they can do anything on their own!) you know how very difficult this idea can be, even if you agree that marriage should be first. So, I put together a few tips that are proven successful and I pray they bless you as you seek to put your marriage first.

  1. Priority List: 1-Jesus, 2-Spouse, 3-Children, 4-Work/Everything Else
    • Know this priority list and seek to safe-guard it with all your might. The world is not going to keep this list in order and neither will your children. This list has to have intentional action steps and a plan for how to keep it as well.
  2. Pray with your spouse. Regularly. Pray for your spouse. Daily.
    • Find a rhythm in praying and reading God’s Word together. This doesn’t have to be every day and in fact, when we counsel couples we advise to start small, setting aside just 2 times a week to intentionally read Scripture (we use Spurgeon’s Morning & Evening devotional; we have a hard copy and the free app on our Kindle) and pray together. We literally ask ‘how can I pray for you this week?’
    • For us the rhythm is Monday morning before the kids wake up and Thursday evening after the kids go to bed. On Mondays we use the time to ‘sync up’ as well. We talk about our week ahead, calendar for the week, budget, etc. On Thursdays sometimes we will listen to a sermon together or read out of another book we might be reading in addition to the Bible.
    • Praying for your spouse every day puts your heart in a place that is thinking about their needs, struggles, desires. This simple and powerful act is a privilege we have as God’s children as we have the opportunity to intercede before our Savior on their behalf.
    • Things to pray for your husband: his relationship with Jesus, relationship with you, relationship with children, and relationship with friends & extended family, for wisdom & discernment as he leads the family, protection from temptation, strength to war against temptation, a love for his neighbors and community, to be strong, hard-worker at the job God has placed him, for him to be influential, pointing those around him to Jesus.
  3. Date your spouse.
    • No one is going to do this for you, it has to be an intentional decision. Invest in your marriage by hiring a proven, trust-worthy babysitter or asking a trusted family member to watch your littles. Your dates don’t have to be extravagant but they have to happen and happen regularly. It’s not necessarily about quality time but about quantity in this case. The reason being that the best conversations are not planned, intimacy is not planned, it’s cultivated. And cultivating a relationship takes consistent, regular investment and effort.
  4. Set bed times & wake times for the littles.
    • Make these decisions together and have a plan of action. One of the best things we have done to invest in our marriage relationship is set bed times. That way we know that no matter what the day holds we get to be together at the end of a long day, in quiet and peace. We can have a conversation with no interruptions. We can hold hands with no one climbing on us. We can just be with each other.
  5. Make time for genuine conversations. Regularly.The laugh-until-you-cry kind and the cry-until-you-laugh kind, too.
    • Have those hard ‘are you feeling loved by me’ or ‘how can I love you better’ talks. They aren’t always pretty and there needs to be prayer at the beginning and end and sometimes in the middle, but true intimacy is found when you really know your spouse and that often comes about through asking hard questions. Remember that giving grace and asking for forgiveness is not an option.
    • LAUGH with your spouse. Pursue a relationship that isn’t just business. Sometimes the job of parenting lends itself to just doing the hard work together and never seeing the joy in the craziness. Choose to look for moments to laugh together and at the craziness that is parenting.

Those are my 5 simple tips. I hope they are a blessing to you and your spouse. No matter how long you have been married, it is never too late to put these little tips into action. Sit down with your spouse and talk through how you think the family is going and put a few boundaries in place and rhythms in place and watch God work miracles as you pray for His guidance, strength, power and help.

Lastly, remember there is no perfect marriages! We are all a mess just asking Jesus to work in us and through us and to daily bring us closer to Him and closer to one another.