Marriage is hard. It is. It’s work. Some seasons can be long.
Then, of course, parenting is hard. Really, really hard. Some seasons can also be really long.
So how do we mix the two and enjoy the ride?
Here are some simple things that Dw and I have learned in the last 36+ years of marriage and 32 years of parenting our 12 treasures.
1. Put Christ first.
It is arrogant and prideful to think that we can navigate life unscathed without the need for continual guidance from the Lord. Who better to get our counsel from then the One who created us, is intimately acquainted with our ways, holds the future and wants the best for us??
I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.
I have set the Lord always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. — Psalms 16:7,8
Personally, we would not have made it through the difficult seasons if we had not been firmly anchored in Christ and Christ alone.
There is a common theme in the church at large today that the reading of a token “verse for the day” followed by a whispered prayer on the fly is adequate to get us through.
Friends, on the contrary. Life has never been so complicated!!
Personally speaking, life has thrown us many unexpected bumps, speeding curve balls and sudden private pain – none of which we would have navigated well if we did not spend large amounts of time buried in the word of God, on our knees in earnest prayer and intentionally meditating on the promises of God.
It’s that simple. The only thing is – it takes our time. But frankly, if we don’t have time to dig into the word of God and spend time in concentrated prayer – we are far too busy!
2. Let your husband lead.
God’s word is clear that the husband is the head of the home.
Major decisions such as job change, moving and adoption should not be decided or directed by anyone but the leader of the home.
Trust me in this.
99.9% of the time, I have allowed Dw to lead, however, there was this one time…
We had a major decision to make in pastoring. Dw felt very strongly one way. I felt very strongly the opposite. I begged him. He adamantly maintained, “No. It’s not a good idea.” So I begged some more. I gave Dw all the reasons why “we should” and over and over he said, “I don’t think it’s a good idea. Not at all.”
After all the pleading I did, attempting to convince him the merits of what I thought best, he consented.
Can I just say – it was by far the worst decision ever made in our 20+ years of ministry!! It caused tremendous heartache and horrific consequences. I look back and still want to vomit thinking about how dumb I was. I knew he should lead! I always let him in the past… but this “one time” I painfully regret to say, I didn’t.
Your husband as well as my husband were both designed by God as the protectors of our home. God purposed it that way for a reason. I already knew that when I began my begging.
And yes, even if your husband doesn’t know Christ – God will work through him in the decisions. Let him lead!
Our job as wives is to spend time in prayer for our husbands. If we think there is a decision that he is blowing it on, we can fast and pray for God to direct him.
I vividly remember a situation that I asked Dw about. He did not respond the way I wanted him to. I didn’t say another word, but instead I began fasting and praying. Not one more word to him. Just spent large amounts of time fasting and praying. Unbeknownst to me, God was working overtime on Dw’s heart and suddenly, he had completely changed his decision. It was a beautiful thing! He had not changed because of me, but only because of the faithfulness of God. And the results have brought a lifetime of joy!
3. Protect your marriage – schedule regular dates – weekly is best!
We have been married for 36 years and the need to date is still just as important as it was 36 years ago!! Some seasons our dates have looked very different than others, but the goal is a time to talk and enjoy each other, so along with being intentional, we have learned to be flexible!
We happen to have the privilege of having a severely medically fragile little treasure who almost always goes with us. We adore her and so it works. Consistent time together is paramount, but flexibility is usually a must in parenting.
4. Have fun!!
We have had more than our share of rough seasons in parenting. Rebellious kids, stupid choices, dashed hopes. However, if we choose to focus on all that, we would have been overcome with great despair!
Instead somewhere along the way, we learned this: Every one of our kids will make their own choices. Our job is to pray hard, parent well and pray more.
And in the midst of learning that, we came to this conclusion: Laughter is a must!!
I will never forget one particular night. It was right before our we lost our home to the fire. One of our kids had been making a series of lousy choices. We had fasted and prayed for this child of ours. We had spent large amounts of time talking about the situation.
But on this particular night, after learning of yet another really lousy choice this one had made, Dw and I laid in bed and we really had two choices. We could sob and wring our hands or we could laugh. And it was at that moment, that I said something off the cuff that was comical. And the rest is history. We laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed. We made a pact that we would never tell anyone what we said, but trust me, you would have laughed too.
It was a turning point in parenting for us. Because when we had finished, although the situation hadn’t change and our hearts still ached for the stupid choices this one was making, we had found the beauty in being together through the pain. It was one of my favorite memories of being married to this man of mine.
Scripture is clear, at the end of our lives, we will look back and find, that there were only two things that really, truly mattered.
It will boil down to simply this: How we loved the Lord and how we loved others.
Seasons of life will be hard, no doubt. But keep it simple and have no regrets!