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Today I’m welcoming one of my blogging friends to Homemaking for His Glory! Rebekah’s writing always makes me stop and think about my assumptions. A belief can be commonly held without being true! Like Rebekah, I also married young and started having children quickly afterwards.In her book, Lies Moms Believe, she talks a lot about unbiblical ideas that have seeped into our culture and how we should respond.
I share pretty candidly in both Lies Moms Believe (And How the Gospel Refutes Them) and in the companion Bible study that when our second child was born not even three years into our marriage, my husband and I entered into a very hard season. Between our son’s aversion to sleep, his gas problems resulting from a dairy and egg intolerance, and just typical postpartum issues, things became very strained for a time between Owen and me. Intimacy was at an all-time low as a result of the sleeping arrangements, my temper and frustration level were at an all-time high, and I began to find myself forgetting who the man I married even was as I failed to really look at him and see him in the midst of all the crazy.
Because of just how challenging the tail end of 2016 and first half of 2017 were, I would be the prime candidate to buy into the common cultural lie that children ruin marriages. But I can honestly write to you today, firmly believing with all my heart, that they do not. Children certainly bring challenges to a marriage. They do reduce the full scope of freedom and time to yourself that you had before they arrived on the scene. Little ones sometimes make it hard for you to get a word in edge-wise with your husband. All of that is true. But what is not true is that children ruin marriages. Spouses who fall prey to the tricks of Satan are the ones who ruin marriages. Spouses who fail to be intentional about prioritizing their marriage above all else (second only to God, of course!) are who ruin marriages.
These may seem like harsh words, but please trust the spirit in which I am writing them. I come from a place of knowing how hard parenting can be on your marriage – we had our first baby when we had only been married 10 months! I likewise come from a place of knowing that we always have a choice as to how we will respond to the challenges brought about by parenting. We always have a choice as to how we will treat our spouses, invest in our marriages, and build each another up.
So, with that in mind, I want to offer you 5 things to remember when it comes to being intentional to not fall prey to the schemes of the Enemy.
- Remember your marriage came first.
Unfortunately, what often happens to us moms is that as soon as we become mothers we begin to focus all our thoughts, time, and attention on our children, largely forgetting our husbands exist or else relegating them to the back burner. It is true that mothering takes up a lot of time and that in particular seasons especially (such as the newborn stage!), a lot of attention will be required by our children. Even then, however, we still have a choice to make. We can – and should! – still choose to focus on our husbands, too, remembering that they came before the children, and that they will be the only one still there with us after our children grow up and leave. The time to be investing in our marriages is now. The time to be focusing on our husbands is now – no matter what else is going on in our lives.
- Remember you were called to be a partner and helper before you were called to be a mother.
Genesis 2:18 shows us that women were created to be helpers and partners in the grand mission of fulfilling the dominion mandate (and, in our day, the Great Commission, as well). As a wife, you have been called to be your husband’s helper in life, his right-hand woman, his partner. This was a calling handed down to you by God before the calling of mother was ever given to you. Remembering this proper ordering of your priorities will go a long way towards preventing your children from “ruining” your marriage, because you will be working towards the strength of your marriage even in the midst of your days as a mom.
- Remember to take the time to prioritize your marriage.
This is so, so important and is the main way you are going to keep from feeling as if your children are “ruining” your marriage. If you invest in your marriage today, you will be so grateful tomorrow that you did. And do you know what else? Your children will be, too! A strong marriage provides a firm foundation of security for your little ones, a picture of what marriage is supposed to be like, and a beautiful symbol of Christ and His relationship to the church.
Investing in your marriage during this busy season of parenting can feel challenging to do sometimes. What we have to remember is that even the little things add up, because it is ultimately all about our hearts and how we are viewing (and therefore treating) our husbands. Investing in your marriage can look like everything from dancing with your man in the kitchen, cooking together, laughing together about your children’s antics, playing games together, looking over old pictures from when you were dating or from your wedding day and reminiscing, to intentionally making it a priority to go on regular date nights with your husband, enjoying date nights in, prioritizing intimacy, and even bigger things like overnight or weekend get-aways. No matter what season of parenting you are in, you can find a way to intentionally prioritize your marriage in the midst of it.
- Remember to pray for and with your husband.
Nothing binds your hearts together as husband and wife in quite the same way as does praying for and with each other (reading and discussing the Word together is wonderful for this, too!). Parenting brings with it countless questions, challenges, and decisions. What better way to handle them all than to go before the Lord together in prayer on behalf of your children? It’s also important to pray for your spouse, that they would be built up in this season of marriage, parenting, work, ministry, and whatever else the two of you may be involved in during this stage of your life. Interceding like this will warm your heart towards your husband and increase the love and affection you feel for him.
- Remember to come together, not pull apart in the hard times.
My parents each wrote separate letters to me and Owen when we got married, and in each one they gave this wise advice: when life gets hard and you face challenges, do not drift apart; instead, come together and cling to one other. Marriages do not fall apart all in one moment. Typically, it’s little choices made day after day across a span of time, little choices to be unintentional, to just let life happen, and to not focus on each other the way we should. The fact of the matter is that we will, over time and as a result of Satan’s attacks, our sin natures, and life’s happenings, gradually drift apart bit by bit if we are not intentionally coming together and prioritizing each other. It is that crucial that we focus on our marriages as we should. I believe this is precisely why the Lord emphasizes intimacy in marriage (going so far as to dedicate an entire book of His Word to the topic!), and why Satan will do everything he can to ruin that area of our marriages. When parenting is proving to be challenging, cling to your husband. You can’t afford not to. You can’t afford to believe the lie that you “don’t have time” to do so. This is what God has given you time for!
There is Always Hope!
When parenting proves to be especially challenging, and your marriage is starting to fall by the wayside, look up. Fix your eyes on Christ. Ask Him for the wisdom and strength to do what you need to do for the sake of your marriage. Remember that your children are still blessings; they are not ruining your marriage. Remember that no matter what is going on in your life, the Lord is still in the redeeming business and can work in your marriage in countless amazing ways. Married life with children may prove difficult sometimes, but it can also be so beautiful. Just take a glance at Psalm 128 to see what I mean (consider this your homework assignment)!
God bless you, mama, as you seek to be both the wife and the mama you have been called by God to be.
Rebekah Hargraves is a wife, mama of two littles, blogger, podcaster, and author whose passion is to edify, equip, and encourage women in their journey of Biblical womanhood, particularly with an emphasis on the gospel and its implications for everyday life. Rebekah’s first book, “Lies Moms Believe (And How the Gospel Refutes Them)” released last fall, and the “Lies Moms Believe” Companion Bible Study comes out March 30, 2018. You can find Rebekah on her website, Hargraves Home and Hearth, on Instagram, or on iTunes via her podcast.