The good and messy calling of marriage with kids often happens at lightning speed. For us, the scarcity of time can even make buying an anniversary card a challenge. All summer we had been running and running and running. We’d been so busy planning for the upcoming school year, registering our kids for soccer camp, shopping for school supplies, trying to organize ministry details, and packing for vacation that we ran out of time for each other. Our anniversary was upon us before we even knew it.
When I said to my hubby, “I didn’t get you an anniversary card,” it was more of a confession than a statement. For a moment, he thought he heard angelic choirs singing the “Hallelujah Chorus” because the truth was he had forgotten as well.
“I didn’t get you one either,” he admitted. That is the moment we started talking about what we were going to do for our wedding anniversary, which happened to be the very next day. Not exactly romantic. Our busyness had us living out of sync. With little rest and almost no rhythm, our busyness was taking its toll on us
The time kids need and deserve pulls a couple in many different directions. Every part of parenting stretches us and costs time. And the time demands are usually for important, good stuff.
Doctor and dentist appointments.
Our lives begin to revolve around our kids, leaving less and less time with and for each other. It’s not uncommon for a couple to see their precious time together evaporate. We have less time to date, less time to talk, less time to be alone, less time to get away.
We have four kids- 14, 12, 9 and 7. The season of life we are in with kids in the house is a lot more hectic than the early days of marriage. We can remember when we went shopping when we wanted to. On a minute’s notice, we went out for dinner or went on a run. We stayed up late watching television and slept in on weekends. The luxury of time we used to enjoy together is hard to imagine now.
The time it takes to be a good parent can squeeze out the time it takes to be a good spouse. Endless activities and demanding schedules, like intruders, rob a couple of intimacy. Self-neglect and sacrifice become a way of life for most couples with kids. But living rushed, reactive, overstretched, and out- of-sync lives will eventually take its toll on a marriage.
Believe it or not, there is another option. God wants something more for us and has something more for us. It’s not always easy, and it certainly doesn’t happen by accident, but the hurried, busy, out-of-balance, hold-on-tight, I-am-losing- my-mind kind of life doesn’t have to be our life (at least not all of the time). When we have kids in the house, we need to learn to view and steward our time differently. We need to create new boundaries to keep the busyness of life in balance and to keep our love alive! Taking one step at a time and paring back in areas that you can cut back on is the first step. What might you remove from your life that could help to restore balance for you as a couple?
Marriage is both a blessing we receive and a battle we fight for in love, commitment, sacrifice, and grace. The challenge in marriage is not how it starts, but how it continues, grows, matures, and flourishes over time. The transition from marriage to family creates a whole new set of complexities and threats to the marriage relationship that can make it difficult to keep our marriage vows. The work of keeping the husband-wife relationship a priority requires a lot of effort. But it is worth it. As you work on your marriage, focus on being on the same page, and learn to tackle life together your load will grow lighter.
For Better or For Kids offers hope to the couple who promised from the start to be a team, but is feeling worn out, over-extended, and neglected. Throughout the pages couples learn how to fan the flames of intimacy, explore practical ways to parent together as one team, avoid the dangers of spouse-neglect and self-neglect, effectively communicate in the chaos, and so much more.
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STEP 1: Share this post on Facebook and tag a friend or two who you know with a spouse and kids in the house who would love to read this book!
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Ruth (and Patrick) Schwenk
Patrick Schwenk is a husband, father, and pastor. Ruth Schwenk is a wife, mom, and blogger. She and her husband are the creators of FortheFamily.org and TheBetterMom.com. Patrick and Ruth have been married for more than seventeen years, have four children, and have been in full-time ministry for over fifteen years. Their first book together, For Better or For Kids: A Vow to Love Your Spouse with Kids in the House just released!