My husband and I have been married 16 years this past June. We started out simple and happy. One house. One child. One dog. Wow! Simple and sweet. Then, life seemed to speed up with moving, two more children, another dog and a new job position. “No problem. We got this!” Well, wouldn’t you know, life continued its acceleration with a parent’s terminal illness, another move, the oldest graduating high school, two more children, another dog, and another job transfer. I could hear the tune to “Twelve Days of Christmas” playing in the background, but the lyrics rang out with “Sixteen Years of Marriage.” Golly. When is it going to slow down? When am I going to be able to keep up?
When my husband and I had a quick moment to breathe, we agreed we felt the same way. We tried simplifying, but it’s not that simple once you’ve added a few more humans to the mix plus more responsibilities with job and home. We did the best we could, but we both still felt like we were treading water with no land in sight. So . . . I did what ANY good wife would do. I signed us up for a marriage retreat! Surely this will solve the madness.
My husband and I attended the nearest marriage retreat with Family Life. It was a wonderful time. We had an opportunity to sit next to one another, hold hands, laugh, talk, snuggle up and watch a show, eat breakfast together, have “us” time and all with just US! We listened to the couples speak and both looked at each other saying, “We could do that! We know this stuff. What is wrong then? Why do we feel so behind all the time?”
And so . . . I am here to express what Ecclesiastes 3 (and/or the Byrds) express so well. There is a TIME there is a SEASON and this season of our lives is FULL of responsibilities, children, dogs, works changes, etc. That doesn’t sound very promising does it? But here is the promise.
- Remember it is temporary. Our hopes are not on this earth anyway . . . they are solely on when we live for eternity in perfection with our Lord and Savior. But while we are here on the earth, we can shine His light for others to see – drawing them to our Heavenly Father.
- Focus on the priorities. If my children do not attend every birthday party they are invited to, which they do not, they will survive. Peace in our home and Peace amongst our family members is a high priority.
- Keep an eye out for your partner. Just this past Christmas my husband and I were attending a work Christmas party. I was in one part of the house talking with one of the wives, and he was in another section of the house. But each time when I walked into the kitchen, I’d look for him and smile as a check-in as if to say, “I love you.” He’d smile back as if to say, “I know you do and I love you too.” Simple but important to have daily check-ins and communicate where each of you are at in life.
- Direct your frustration at the true enemy. Now, I’m not going to lie, this is the area where I struggle the most. When I’m left at home with the kids because of my husband’s job, or I’ve planned a family outing and his work has pulled him away, I do get angry at him and his work. I am working on that and would truthfully love all prayers. The enemy knows this is a weak spot (like in Nehemiah where the Israelites are trying to patch up the breaks – I’m just missing an entire chunk in this area.) But in my heart, I go back to # 1 by remembering this is temporary, continuing with #2 focusing on my priorities, and sliding into #3 with keeping an eye out for my husband because I know he gets frustrated and worn out too. Which brings me to the MOST BEAUTIFUL part of this article.
- Empower yourself with a solid relationship with our perfect God. The closer I grow to Him the better I am able to handle disappointments and frustrations. I become more empowered as I read His Word, trust He would stop anything in my life that wasn’t going to be later used for His Glory, and just out and out rest in His Arms. I literally envision myself in Jesus’ arms, thanking Him for getting me through another tough moment. All that to say. Never give in (as declared by Winston Churchill). There is GREAT PURPOSE in what you are doing.
Well, I am off to tend to a sick child, finding gratitude in the fact it is only one at this time. ???? I will continue the evening with folding laundry, thanking God for a working washer and dryer, and finish the evening by collapsing into bed, praising Jesus for the soft sheets, comfy pillow and warm house. Gratitude not only changes your perspective, it may just salvage that which is on the verge of becoming lost.
Article Written by: Cindy Aitkin