Marriage is a union of two people who have promised to stick together through anything life may throw at them.
It’s sacred. It’s hard work. It’s rewarding. It’s exhausting.
Besides the relationship I have with God, my marriage is the most important relationship in my life.
It’s so important that I place it above all others – including my kids.
I know a lot of you just had your jaws hit the floor.
That’s OK. I understand that this is kind of a shocking thought in the era of the media telling us “being a mom is what defines me,” “motherhood is the most important work,” “I place my children and their well-being above everything else.”
Those sentiments are all based in good intentions. Motherhood is important work. As a parent, your children’s well-being should be important. As for motherhood defining you…we’ll save that one for another time.
At the end of the day, the biggest disservice we can provide our children is making them first in life all the time.
My marriage has to be top priority.
My children look to my marriage every day. They are looking to us to show them what life is supposed to look like, what marriage and family is supposed to look like.
When I am putting my marriage first, my girls see an example of what they should look for in a spouse and what a partnership should look like. They see what perseverance looks like. They see a constant, dependability, and reliability. They see that no matter what happens, there is always someone there who has your back, who supports and lifts you up when you need it and holds your hand and lets you cry when you need it.
If I let my marriage slip to the back of the line of importance, what would that show them?
What would they see if I didn’t prioritize time with my husband? What would they see if Joe and I didn’t get our alone time to talk and connect after they go to bed at 7:30 p.m.? What would they see if we made our lives revolve entirely around them, instead of focusing on creating a solid foundation for our family?
It would be wobbly at best, friends.
Consider this: When you neglect yourself, how do you end up feeling? Not so great, right? Burned out, stressed out, and flaky?
It’s the same when you neglect your marriage. When you don’t make it a priority – and that might look like 20 minutes in the kitchen talking after work every night, putting the kids to bed early(ish), or making time for date night a few times a month – things end up the same. You find yourself communicating less, connecting less. It could become like living with a stranger, a roommate, rather than a partner in life who will still be there long after the children grow up and move out.
That is not the kind of marriage you want to portray for your children. It’s certainly not what I want my girls to expect when they are getting married.
Remember, your children are a living, breathing homage to the love you have for your spouse. They are a beautiful side effect of your union. They are the result of a relationship that you have spent time and energy nurturing and helping grow.
They are incredibly important, your children. And your relationship with them is, as well. But they can’t be the top priority. If you and your spouse are so focused on your children that you forget to focus on each other, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
You’re a better you when you are taking care of yourself, right? When you feel taken care of and whole, you can be a better employee, mother, wife, daughter…whatever you need to be. All of those roles depend on you taking the time to be sure you are taken care of.
It’s the same with your marriage. When you feel that you are on solid ground with your partner, you flourish as an individual. You flourish as a mother when you feel supported and aren’t unsure of your marriage relationship. Making sure your marriage is strong and healthy is a key component to being the best mom you can be for your kids!
If you aren’t sure where to start with putting your marriage first, here are some ideas I’ve found to be tried and true:
- Read together. Joe and I choose a series and take turns reading out loud to each other in bed. We enjoy something new together and often learn something, as well!
- Set a date night at least twice a month. It doesn’t even have to be something that you go and spend money on. Joe and I are in the middle of the Dave Ramsey baby steps right now and all of our dates are free or very little cost! We pick up a pint of ice cream, cook dinner together, and watch a movie on Netflix while the kids are at Grandma’s house. It’s glorious.
- Connect every day. Even if it’s just a few minutes after work or before bed, make sure you take a few minutes to talk about your day (not just what the kids did, either!), ask each other questions, and just check on each other. Marriage and parenting are hard things made easier when you know you aren’t doing them alone!
- Write a love letter. It seems like such a small, insignificant thing but a simple love letter can do wonders. Write down what you love, admire, or find endearing about your spouse and what you’re looking forward to in your future together. Leave it on the driver’s seat of his car for him to find on his way to work in the morning.
- Don’t go to bed angry. That may mean staying up late figuring stuff out and that’s OK. Just make sure by the end of it you’ve resolved whatever was upsetting you.
In what ways do you put your marriage first? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below!
All the props and thanks to Becky of Be 4Ever Young Photography for these amazing snapshots of our family! She is so gifted in making our family look our best and showcasing the love and laughter we share!