This transcript has been edited for clarity.
Laura: Welcome to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I am Laura Wifler with my sister-in-law, Emily Jensen, here. Today, we are going to be talking about marriage and keeping it a priority; keeping it first in your life.
Emily: As Laura mentioned, we are talking about putting your marriage first, which is really challenging after you have children sometimes, because the reality of it is that the needs on your plate usually increase, like all the things that need to take care of during the day. At the end of the day, I’m around my four little kids all day, they have touched me a billion times, [laughs] I have in fact used a million words on them and there’s been moments of stress. A lot of times, even physically, I’m worn out. I actually wore a Fitbit around my house one day on an average day and saw that I walked seven miles around my house, which was nuts. I don’t even know how that’s possible but then I was like, “Well, this explains why I’m so tired.” [laughter] My husband gets home and wants to have a super-deep business savvy conversation and my brain is just like, “Blah, blah, blah,” [laughter] mush.
Laura: It’s so funny because I think my husband and I are completely opposite in the sense of when he gets home, I really like to verbally download and I desire that because I feel like I must tell someone what I did all day or didn’t happen. But he really needs that wind down time; that time to recharge. That time of silence. I feel like often I struggle in serving him that way because I’m like, “No, no, this is what I want to do and what I want to talk about.” [laughter]
Emily: There are other examples too that Laura and I thought of as far as not thinking of our husband first. I let my kids eat my husband’s snacks sometimes. [laughter] He comes home and he is like, “Where did all my crackers go?” I’m like, “Sorry,” and I forget the things he wanted me to get at the store. Maybe he’ll ask me to be like, “There’s this one area in the house that’s really bothering me. No big deal, but if you can get to it today, please do.” It will end up on the bottom of my to-do list and I won’t do it, or I will let our bedroom stay really messy. Everything in the house is pristine and you walk into our room and it’s [laughs] just bad.
Laura: I can do the same type of stuff. I know that when my husband gets home, I’m often like, “Okay! They’re yours.” I’m going to clean the kitchen and they’re crawling all over him. We aren’t able to eat dinner together often so I set out a plate for him but the kids think it’s second dinner so they’re basically eating off his plate the whole time. [laughter] I’m not really thinking. I’m like, “Yes, break,” and poor guy is like eating with a couple of monkeys on him who are begging for more food. I tend to be like, “Okay, he can eat these leftovers from lunch like a garbage disposal. Here’s everything we have and I’m going to use it up in his lunch.” Often, I can find myself really wanting … I don’t want to pay for a sitter because it’s hard. It’s hard to pay for a sitter but often, I’ll be like, “Yes, let’s go do these fun things with the kids. That’s no problem,” but bring a sitter on date night, that can be a lot more difficult for me. There are so many ways that we can inadvertently put our husband on the back burner and not really be thinking about his needs. I think we do that because we convince ourselves that it’s okay.
Emily: Because our kids are needy, and they’re right there and you’re like, “If I don’t take care of this, they’re going to be crying. We’re going have a temper tantrum on our hands.” Our husbands are often, especially if you’re married to a believer, they’re often very gracious and [laughter] generous and they’re very patient. They may go a long time without saying anything, so you realize, “This isn’t going to cause an immediate big issue.”
Laura: He’s not going to cling to my leg and cry at my feet.
Emily: Exactly. So you put their needs behind your kids. I know that sometimes when my husband and I have a conflict or something that we haven’t fully worked through yet, I will let that seep into all my interactions with him and it’s really unhealthy. There’s definitely a lot of reasons why we, as moms, justify that.
Laura: It’s so important for us to overcome our justification. As mothers, we have to remember that our husbands, especially if they’re a believer, are working for the same goal that we are, and that we’re parenting towards that same goal, and that’s eternity. That means that our marriage matters so much in motherhood. It can be easy for us to be like, “Okay, I’ve got my kids and then I’ve got my marriage,” and not really look at them as bonded or intertwined. What we have to realize is that the health of our children actually relies on the health of our marriage as well.
Emily: What we see in scripture is that God set up Adam and Eve and the marriage relationship as the foundation of the family. Also, husband and wife are a picture of Christ and the church, and this is an incredible witness to not only our children but the world around us. We are living out this incredible gospel truth for the world when we have a healthy marriage. Those are really important things to remember. We don’t have time to go super deep into that but especially as wives, God calls us to serve and love our husbands well, and love our neighbor as our self. Our husband is our closest neighbor so all of those things are super important to remember.
Laura: Marriage is about friendship. Remember, it was right before the fall, as Emily was starting to say there, so that’s a good and it’s a wonderful thing. Now it has become riddled with sin and there are issues that happened because Satan wants to divide that marriage because it is that beautiful thing. He’ll even use a good thing to try to hurt your marriage and that’s your children.
Often times, we can start to focus as moms into our kids, because as Emily and I were saying, that their needs are a lot more pressing and in our face. We have to remember that that is from the accuser; he wants to divide us in our marriage. Ultimately, I love the picture of remembering that I’m still called to serve my husband as I’m supposed to serve the church and that this is the great story of redemption that is lived out right in my home. I can love and prioritize my husband even when it’s hard; even when my kids’ needs are so much louder or even when it just feels easier to do something else. I want to look beyond the here and now of this moment, of today and remember what is coming to me; that future reward. I love it because we are studying The Meaning of Marriage with my growth group by Tim Keller. He talks a lot about seeing the person your spouse is today and loving that person, but really, you love them because you can see the person that God someday created them to be, and you are choosing and striving to love that. Does that make sense?
Emily: Yes, I have to think on that more; that’s deep. [laughter]
Laura: I love it because he’s talking about the sanctification that occurs in marriage and as moms, that’s happening so much as we daily try to strive to prioritize our husbands. We are seeing a greater depth and reliance on the Gospel because of marriage, both in serving our husband despite his flaws, and choosing to serve him despite your flaws. Another one that will hit you hard.
Emily: There’s so much meat here. Laura, you started to talk about this but the reality that too, sometimes marriage is just hard. There are really difficult things that you go through and choosing to forgive our husbands, because Christ forgave us. That doesn’t mean that we’re excusing where he’s at or anything like that but I think just living and walking in forgiveness is super good. We could talk about all these deep things forever. Obviously, there’s books written on this. [laughs]
Laura: If you want a great book on it, check out Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller. We will link to it in the show notes but it has changed a lot of my perspective on marriage and really encouraged me to desire to serve my husband, even when it’s really difficult. That’s not because of necessarily things that he does but just life—being a mom, having a family that’s growing, and involving a lot things, it can be very hard because his needs tend to be the quietest. [laughter]
Emily: What do we do practically? We wanted to get into this a little bit because this is helpful, because it’s like, “How does this translate though? I’m really struggling. I’m trying to juggle my kids but I want to put my husband first.” I think it starts with speaking that truth. What Laura and I just went though is reminding yourself, “No, I don’t want to push my husband to the bottom of the list. I want to love him and I want to prioritize him.” Maybe you don’t want to but you know that it’s important.
It’s choosing to take that thing that maybe your husband asked you to do, or you know that he cares about and you put it at the top of your to-do list instead of the bottom. Sometimes I’ll even tell my kids, “Daddy asked mommy to do this and I want to take care of this and so you need to be patient while I do this,” or whatever the thing is. Even letting your kids know, “Daddy’s needs are important to me and we as a family are going to try to honor daddy and his preferences.”
Laura: I just took my husband’s car in to get fixed. We traded cars and my son’s all, “What, why are we driving dad’s car?” It was funny because he was like, “Where are my toys?” because our cars are loaded with toys and all these things. That’s such a good point, Emily. It’s not like, “Okay, we’re going to fix dad’s car,” it’s going beyond that and saying, “Because we love daddy. Because daddy works so hard for us and does all these things for us, we’re going to take his car and get it fixed, and that’s an awesome way we can serve him.” It’s tweaking that language in front of your kids, of going beyond the, “I’m going to tell you exactly what’s happening and nothing more,” [laughter] but telling them the “why” behind it. I think especially as a stay at home mom, when you’re with your kids all day, that’s really easy, but even as a working mom, showing that value to your husband, of him working or everything that he does and ways that you can serve him even outside of work. I know that adds a whole another element of prioritizing your marriage when you’re both gone for a full day.
Emily: Speaking again of basically remembering our husbands’ rightful important place in our lives, I feel like I get preachy sometimes with people, but we have to remember our marriage is for our entire lifetime. Our kids are around for a short season. Hopefully, when they become adults, they will move out at some point and become pretty self-sufficient. That’s what we’re supposed to be training them for, is to go, leave, and to make their own family. To spread the gospel and go do their own good work for the Lord, we hope, but guess what, your husband is still going to be there when those kids go off to school or whatever it is. It is so important because what I’ve heard happens is, if you invest all of your time into your children, and put your marriage on the back burner, when your children are gone, all of those years of neglect are going to show. Do you still have a healthy, thriving marriage of somebody that you’re excited to grow old with? There is this myth that this is impossible to achieve when you have young children. I hear that so often, “With young kids, you just can’t. Marriage is so hard.” I feel like as my husband and I have believed biblical truth and we have trusted God, by his grace, our marriage is doing well with a lot of young children. It’s not perfect but I do think it’s possible. I don’t feel like we should believe the myth that just because you have young kids, your marriage has to be bad. There are lots of challenges but you can choose to trust God in the midst of them. [laughter]
Laura: That was good. It’s hard truth but it’s good truth to hear. To pad that a little bit more. My husband and I, and I know Emily you would say this, we are not immune to difficult seasons or seasons where we’re not talking as much or we’re not jiving as much or there seems like there’s a little bit more disagreement than other seasons. You can feel, “Okay, we’re in this weird spot,” but that is where prioritizing your marriage changes that. That duty to delight, as John Piper says, or just the dry abundance of, “We’re going through a jarry season and so I’m going to do my duty. I’m going to do what I need to do and my feelings will catch up. My heart will catch up.” That is not just a Christian thing. The culture would even say that that often happens. You would do something, you would get to know it more, and you strive for it and you do those actions, that your feelings can follow. Just to encourage you, I’ve had plenty of these seasons, I know my husband has for me and all those things where we’re getting into a little bit of a rut but we’re choosing to prioritize, we’re going to go on dates, we’re going to choose to talk. It’s going to be a little bit hard but the end reward is so worth it. Like Emily said, that long-term goal of desiring a healthy and wonderful relationship with our husbands. It has to land outside of our children. It cannot be all around them or it’s going to crumble when they go out and do something.
Emily: We haven’t said this yet but the root of all of this, if you want to prioritize your marriage well and love your husband well, is to love Christ and to be connected with him and walking with him and believing these truths. As God’s word changes your heart and you’re led by the Holy Spirit, these things don’t necessarily get super easy but I do feel like it’s possible. [laughs]
Laura: If you are sustained by Christ and not by your husband or your children, you’re going to be able to be much more gracious throughout the day; grace-filled, and you are going to start thinking about the needs of others and that includes your husband. That falls into that practical stuff of having your time in the word, praying for your husband, praying that this happens, it changes your heart if you’re in a tough season. We had a couple of questions to go through here, of asking yourself, where has he expressed preferences and how can you prioritize those things? How can you honor those things even if they’re really small? In fact, those can be the easiest ones or easiest ways to show him love a lot of times.
Emily: I love this question. How can you save physical and emotional energy for your husband each day? I ask myself that sometimes during the day. How can I maybe not do this extra task so that I truly have extra energy? Or even these conversations on how can I intentionally put aside part of me to save for my husband? What else Laura?
Laura: How about maximizing your time together? My husband and I don’t have a ton of time together. I think that’s the way it is for a lot of spouses, especially alone time. What are ways that you can plan special events, play into your shared interests or maybe there’s a business you run together, or who knows? Really being intentional about that time you do have together and not just binge watching Netflix. Although that can be good too, so definitely, times for different things.
Emily: Finally, just ask your husband. I know that occasionally I will be like, “Honey, what is important to you that I am getting done?” or, “How can I serve you better?” or, “What is the one thing where you’re like, 'I don’t care if anything else gets done today but here’s one thing that would really bless me?'” I’m always shocked at how simple his answer is. It’s something like, “Could you make sure I have coffee on my way out the door?” or, “Can you just make the bed?” or whatever. “Can you be in a great mood tonight and we can relax?” [laughter] You know what I mean. It’s like, “Let’s just have a nice night tonight.” I’m always amazed at how gracious it is and how encouraged I am when I can just complete that one small thing.
Laura: Even if you’re working. I know these tasks are going to look a lot different and your routines look a lot different, but I think it’s still important that you find ways to prioritize one another. That you can find ways that if he does have a preference for some of those things you do, that you guys can meet them. Yes, I think there are a lot of ways to look at this and I think it can be a really beautiful picture of the gospel played out when you guys are striving together. Especially us as moms, taking on that on us of being the first ones to start prioritizing our marriage.
Emily: Lots of good stuff for guys to think on. [laughs] We will provide some more resources too in our show notes risenmotherhood.com. Hopefully, I’m going to try to get some books and articles and things for you guys to look into more. Remember that you can find us on social media, @RisenMotherhood and then please leave us a review on iTunes. We actually have a little tutorial on our website risenmotherhood.com where you can see how to leave a review exactly, if you’re not sure how. That would be a huge blessing to us. Thanks again for listening, and you guys have a great day.