The following is a transcript of the audio. Transcript has been edited for clarity.
Laura: Welcome to the last episode in The Risen Motherhood Podcast for this series. We are so glad to have you guys join us. Last week, we talked about how to do gospel instruction with kids. This week we’re talking about marriage and motherhood, a really big topic especially in this season of little kids, that most of you listeners are likely in, as well as Emily and I are in. Marriage can very easily be put on the back burner so we’re excited to talk about that today.
I should mention to you that Emily is here with me. Once again, we’re speaking in the same room, which is exciting to be able to record together instead of via Skype. We’re talking about marriage and motherhood.
Emily: You said back burner. It reminds me when we talked about self-care. A lot of times with motherhood, our children are so demanding and their needs are so immediate that we unintentionally put a lot of things that are important, but not urgent, on the back burner. That can work for a little while but a lot of times, we end up regretting when we put aside things that are important. We need to be caring for our marriage, being one of the most important things in our lives that we care for, right behind our relationship with God.
Laura: Today’s society has pushed the helicopter parenting trend and things like that, to put our kids first. The world continues to say that the husbands can take care of themselves, and they’re going to make it, and that’s not your priority, but really, the very best gift that you can give your children is a strong marriage. For them to be able to see everything from healthy conflict resolution to physical affection with your husband and how healthy relationships work between mom and dads, that is a great goal. Something to keep in mind is to remember: "No, putting my husband as the priority is the greatest way I can love my children."
Emily: And I think bringing the gospel in immediately, our marriages are a picture of Christ and the church as the bride and the bridegroom. It’s just important to remember that our marriages are a picture to the world of that. It’s important that we are honoring it and that we are honoring one another in marriage and we’re honoring our husbands. I think that that is so crucial.
Laura: Like Emily said, it’s a picture between Christ and the church. I think it shows how Christ has sacrificed everything for the church, and that’s Biblically how marriage has been founded, and why we have marriage today as that picture. We want to get into a little bit of those practical things of, what does that look like with little kids running around? What are some things that Emily and I do with our husbands or wish we were better at? [laughter]
Emily: One of the things I know I used to be worried about, when my husband and I had kids, was that it was going to hurt our marriage or was going to put all this strain because that is one thing you see a lot in commercials and in movies. You see the frazzled parents whose marriage is falling apart or under serious strain and a little bit of that is true: You’re sleep deprived, you probably have less time together. There’s just a variety of practical things. But in our experience, children have enriched our marriage because of some Biblical principles that we’ve practiced. The reality is, God says children are a joy and they are a reward and a blessing and they’re a great thing, and so they don’t have to bring your marriage down the drain. I think that’s a little bit of a myth that sometimes women can-
Laura: - hide under.
Emily: Yeah, and it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy sometimes. [laughter]
Laura: And I think number one, we have to maintain our own relationship with Christ first. I know so often I can look at my husband and be like, “Yes, here are X, Y and Z reasons you’re not leading our family quiet times or initiating prayer before bed.” You have these expectations of your husband and really, it’s the whole looking at the log in your own eye, and to stop expecting our husbands to be this perfect model of Christ in our family.
We want to first say, look back at yourself and self-reflect on where you are, where your relationship with the Lord is, see how flawed and weak and how much we need the Lord, and quit looking at your husband. Quit saying, “Oh, he needs Jesus here. Here’s what he could work on. He could do this better. I could really use help here,” but to recognize our need for Christ first, is number one.
Emily: I’ve had to practice in my own mind, imagining my husband and I sitting together on the same side of the table facing our problems or our sin.
Laura: You’re on the same team.
Emily: We’re on the same team; we are one in Christ. Because of that, it’s not me against my husband and also, like you said, it’s me individually with my relationship with Christ. Definitely staying strong in that, is the number one way to take care of your marriage. There’s lots and lots of practical things too so let’s go ahead and move into some of those things. First of all, this is something I’ve been harking on lately when I’ve been talking to people but when you go on dates, try to have fun. Have some fun together.
Laura: Yes, it’s not a business meeting.
Emily: Lighten up, lighten up. My husband and I are super analytical and we used to get one on one time together and go through super deep stuff and that is really important. I do not want to say, “Oh, don’t communicate about the deep stuff,” but sometimes when you have little kids, it can feel like the business meetings are happening every day and when you get alone together, just laugh. Do something lighthearted and just enjoy each other.
Laura: I think that you need both. You need that time to get away. I’ll come to my husband and I’m like, “Okay, here are the six things I want to initiate and start talking about and here are some things that have just been sitting here on my heart and I want to say these things,” and so I totally agree; have fun.
I also think that date nights at home are great. There are like 1,000 Pinterest articles about how to have date nights at home and free date nights but one thing to remember is that it’s okay to put a little money into it. In fact, it’s important that you do. I think there's an element of getting out of your home, your kids are not under your roof, you are not the first responder and you can go away and check out a whole lot more.
And there are still free things to do - though it's going to cost gas money - but one thing that is a struggle for a lot of people is that they don't want to put their money towards a date night or a babysitter. That's a struggle for me; putting money towards a babysitter now that we are away from family and friends. I was just uncurling my fist to pay our first babysitter, but it's so important. Your checkbook speaks for you - one of those ways is where your marriage falls on the priority list and being willing to say, “We’re going to get a hotel for one night or we’re going to go out for dinner.” Even Chipotle, but being able to take the time and the money that it costs to maintain a marriage is important.
Emily: It is. Even looking for ways intentionally to make that happen. For my husband and I, it can feel overwhelming sometimes to say, “Okay, how are we going to get an entire day or an entire evening away from our kids?” It’s going to take all this thought in advance. Something we’ve done, in addition to that, is just look for opportunities. If there’s a chance for us to sneak away for breakfast really quick, we’d do that.
Laura: Yes, odd times.
Emily: Odd times. I will sometimes go meet my husband at work. We will walk down the street, have coffee for 30 minutes and then come back to his office. It’s just weird and it’s kind of random but it’s working for us, and it’s ways to put in even little mini dates in between those big dates that we all imagine. Again, take the pressure off but it’s all good. Sometimes taking the pressure off instead of waiting for the perfect night that you as a wife imagine, your husband coming home with flowers and you are gone for the whole night. It’s okay too to just go get the coffee together or just go out and get an ice cream together. There is a place for that especially if you have a newborn.
Laura: Definitely. I don’t want to say you have to do these big, grand dates by any means. The other thing I would say is you, as a wife, can initiate that. For me, it was just hard because I kept waiting and wanting him to say, “Here, I made reservations and we’re going to this restaurant!” Typically, I am the scheduler, the keeper of the calendar and I have just realized that if we want this to happen, I have to be okay with making it happen. He is super happy and thrilled that I did! So just lowering those expectations for how it comes about and what it looks like.
Emily: Also, believing the best in your husband and believing he wants to go out on a date with you. But just like we have things going on in our lives that keep us from doing exactly what we want to do, our husbands have that too. I always tell myself, “I know my husband wants to go on a date with me. It’s not that he’s neglecting me on purpose or something like that. It is totally fine for me to plan it.”
Okay we’ve talked about dates but this also goes into a little bit of physical affection. It can be really difficult especially after you’ve had a baby; you don’t feel like yourself. Maybe you’ve got lots of little kids touching you.
Laura: Oh, man, you just do not want to be touched!
Emily: You’ve got hormonal things going on, but at least I have found, it is so important to reengage physically and to almost make yourself. It’s almost like you have to do it first and then the feelings come. Even if they don’t come, it’s still really important.
Laura: Definitely, and it’s good for your kids to see that. It’s good for you to choose to engage in that. I think there is something at work with the oxytocin, with your newborn on you, and the same is true for marriage and physical affection. There are things at work when you engage in those things beyond just mental.
Emily: One thing that’s helped me reengage is whenever we are out in public or at church, I try to think to myself, “If we were dating right now or we were newlywed, what would I be doing?” Oh, I would be holding his hand, I would be sitting right next to him, I’d be as close as I possibly could be. I ask myself that question and then I try to do whatever that thing is, and it’s really helped me to remember to hold my husband’s hand in the car, or put my arm around his back. Those little things are what keep you a married couple and not just partners living under one roof.
Laura: There are times where I’ve had to say to my husband, “Hey, let’s recommit to this or I would like for you to hold my hand more.” It’s awful and sort of painful to say, but it’s always worth it.
Another great way is just serving each other. I think that’s the whole out-serve one another. We’ve all heard it, but again, it’s where you can look at the other person and see all of their flaws, where really we should be looking at, “What are the ways that I can love him?” From just shooting him a text in the middle of the day, telling him you’re thinking of him or pictures of the kids, or just a thoughtful thing, making his lunch - I make my husband’s lunch every night before work the next morning. I know a lot of wives do, but I think that’s just one thing for him that really loves him and blesses him.
So find those things that are meaningful, that are even small and quick, that can be done as you're cleaning up the kitchen and putting away leftovers; I can do that so it’s not adding a lot to your workload.
Emily: One of the things I’ve had to remember is that God has created me as a wife, to be a helper to my husband; really first a helper to Him. That includes understanding what he needs and then taking the time and the attention to meet those needs. When I’m at home all day, if I’ve met my kids all day but I really haven’t done much intentionally to help my husband, then I’m missing a little bit of that component there.
For me and my husband, it’s been a lot of conversations like, “I cannot do everything in the day. I cannot be all things to all people but what is really important to you? Is it that the house is picked up? Is it that we have dinner on the table? Is it that I’m fresh and excited to see you and I’m in a great mood? Is it that I’m out of yoga pants? Look, what are the things that are important to you?”
My husband has given me one or two things and I try to make those things a priority. I even tell my kids at 5:15 p.m., “I have to clean up the house now because daddy is coming home and it’s important to daddy, and mommy wants to do this for daddy.” Just that verbiage for my kids of saying, “This is something that’s important to my husband and we’re going to do it.”
Laura: That’s great. And a few other things: like praying together. I know it seems like a no brainer but I would be willing to put a lot of money on the couples that don’t spend time intentionally to pray together because again, it's one of those easy things to fall by the wayside. You’re exhausted before bed, and for me I think that that’s something where I wanted my husband to lead in and I wanted him to initiate and pray these eloquent beautiful prayers ... but I can initiate those things. I can talk about, “Let’s remember to pray and here are some of the things that we want to pray about.”
Emily: That’s helping him.
Laura: That’s helping him; it’s not leading for him. I feel like I’m hitting the same note this whole show but-
Emily: But again, you’re on the same team with him.
Laura: On the same team.
Emily: “I want to help you do what I know you want to do and what we want to do.”
Laura: The last thing is finding couples that you respect and admire, that encourage you to strive for the cross. I think it’s so important to surround yourself with other healthy couples that are staying the course. Men that can encourage your husband and women that encourage you and don’t let you goof off and do your own thing.
Emily: My last thought would be, and this just came to my mind, is forgive, forgive, forgive, forgive. That is something every single day that we have to practice as a married couple. Just remembering that Christ forgave us and we want to be practicing that in our marriage. That’s going to be one of the best ways to get on the same page and hit reset, and be moving together as a couple.
Laura: To wrap up, review us on iTunes and subscribe. We would really appreciate it and we do hope this fosters conversations among you guys as women and with other mothers. Get together with them, see if they have listened to this or share some of the things that have made you think or you’ve been reminded of. We really appreciate it guys. We’re just glad you guys have joined us through these episodes and we’d love to hear from you too if you have other ideas for future podcasts. No promises.
Emily: No promises.
Laura: But we definitely would love to hear from any of you guys, or if you have questions on anything as well, please feel free to reach out to us.
Emily: Yes, thanks guys for listening.