I can't find a good title for this blog post. This topic is something that's been on my heart for awhile and I think it's definitely worth sharing. I remember at a young age having a very idealistic perception of how my married life was going to be. We would always be happy with one another, my house would never be messy, life would flow smoothly and things were always going to be great. Marriage is what I longed for, what my heart desired, as my lifelong dream was to be a wife and a mom. Well, I can tell you that, truthfully, my marriage is not that far off from that idealistic picture I had in my mind! I am incredibly blessed in my marriage, but I believe it's because we both work very hard at making it so wonderful. Granted, that whole 'my house never being messy' thing probably needs a lot of work, but I'm proud to say that my first fifteen months of marriage have been fabulous!
What's the catch? Well, I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that we work really hard to edify one another. I make it a very big deal not to cut Monte down. In fact, I do just the opposite - I lavish him with compliments! I make sure that he knows how much I appreciate the hard work he does at his job. I make sure he knows how much I love the way he interacts with our kids. I also make sure he knows how much I appreciate how wonderful and helpful he is to me, how much he loves me (and you know that I make sure to let him know how much I love him!), how great it is to have him home after work ... you name it! If he's done something that pleases me, I make sure to let him know. Much like the way we use positive reinforcement on our children, I also use it on my husband. By no means do I think this is a demeaning tactic to use. Put yourself in those shoes and think about whether you want the good things you do to be recognized and appreciated or not. I know I most definitely do!
Another thing I think is extremely important is recognizing my need to put my husband before my kids. Oftentimes (especially in sports season!) things get to be really chaotic with our kids' schedules and everything else can so easily be swept by the wayside. While it's not always easy, during these crazy moments I remember that my husband comes first. This doesn't mean that we skip an obligation (practice or a game) because one of us just doesn't feel like doing it, but it does mean that, no matter how busy I am getting dinner in my kids and rushing them off to their sports, I always welcome my husband home from work with a kiss and with a few minutes of undivided attention. I can tell you that it makes a huge difference when you have your priorities in line. We learned in premarital counseling that we should first consider our relationship with God, then our relationship with each other, and finally our children's needs. By no means does this mean that we leave our kids screaming in hunger/irritation/pain/etc. while we gaze into each other's eyes, but it does mean that I work very hard to let Monte know how absolutely important he is to me. I work hard at letting him know how thrilled I am that he's home from work. I work hard at letting him know just how much my life is blessed because he is a vital part in it.
Now, I'm not saying that we've never had disagreements, because after all, we are human! The great thing about it, though, is that we know that we need to devote time to each other in the midst of these arguments to resolve whatever conflict has arisen ... and it usually takes only about 10 minutes! When we put such a strong emphasis on the importance of our marital relationship, the benefits of that relationship will flourish!
Ladies, if there is one final tip I can give you, it would be this: don't dump your frustrations of parenting on your husband all the time! I know that being a mama to young children can sometimes be completely overwhelming, but when you're in the high tide of a frustrating day and feeling like you're about to be swept under, take some time out for yourself. Call a sister, call a girlfriend, call another mom who's been in your shoes! The one thing Monte and I used to have disagreements about was the fact that I was having frustrating moments in my day, and I would vent those out to him. While I felt much better after these phone calls, he was then feeling a lot worse because, as a man, he wanted to be able to fix this "problem" for me - when all I really needed was someone to listen! If you come to an understanding that men like to make everything better while women usually just want someone to hear them out, you will find yourself in a much better place! I now talk to my mom or my sister when I need to vent about a frustrating day - and later (when I'm not upset about it) I tell Monte about it. I find this to be much easier because, not only am I telling him about the frustration of the day, I'm also telling him about the solution I used to get through it.
More than anything, make your husband know that he truly is the love of your life. I promise the rewards will be abundant!