Marriage is the foundation of the family. More foundational than how you educate your children and where you live. It’s the oven that bakes family life. When you’re baking a cake, an oven with low or no heat won’t create what you want. In the same way, a marriage with low or no priority won’t create the home you want.
During the season of life when we had four children under the age of four, it was all too easy to view my husband’s needs as just another diaper to change. Those babies grew up and we started the homeschool years while adding another baby to the family every couple of years, so it didn’t get any easier to keep our marriage a priority.
We didn’t give up. Soon we’ll celebrate our 32nd anniversary, and we love each other more than ever.
Wondering how to have a better marriage? Here are some thoughts on keeping your marriage growing during the busy childrearing years:
Cut the excuses for why it’s okay to ignore your husband. Yes, I know you’re busy and tired and the kids need you…..but you can’t put your relationship on a shelf for years and expect it to flourish. When we don’t water our tomato plants, they shrivel up and die in the heat, and they sure don’t produce any fruit. It’s the same with our marriage.
Focus on what is RIGHT for a change. Think about what is good about your marriage, about what your husband is doing well, about the things you excel in as a wife. Don’t beat yourself (or your husband) up about what needs to get better. You get more of what you focus on, so focus on the good.
Treat your husband like a man. He’s your best friend, but he’s not your girlfriend (there’s a difference). He’s not your servant and he’s not incompetent with your kids. He has his way of doing things with them and it is not wrong, it’s just different.
Look like a woman. Peek in the mirror. How’s the makeup and hair doing? What are you wearing? Of course you’ll have your days, but a constant wardrobe of a t-shirt and sweat pants sends a message to yourself and to others. How we dress does affect us, whether we admit it or not. Men are visual, that’s how they were created. Deep down they do care how you look and they’re not asking for a size 2 model. When you make an effort to look pretty, it helps them feel loved, believe it or not. All the years I wore a size 22W, my husband thanked me over and over for “fixing up.”
Accept your husband for who he is and treat him accordingly. What does this look like? No criticism, no nagging, no disrespect, no “jokes” about his masculinity, no rolling your eyes. Plenty of appreciation, lots of admiration and realizing the truth that there are plenty of women out there who would love to treat him this way.
Step back and evaluate whether some things need to change in your relationship during the busy years of raising children. Change can start with you. Your husband really doesn’t even have to know. Nobody likes to be a project. You can change your own attitude and actions, and your tremendous influence as a wife will affect your husband.
See what you can do to turn up the heat in your marriage to create the family life you want!
For more secrets and straight talk about marriage, check out the Happy Marriage teleclass with Charlotte!