Let’s talk about a Christian marriage, and even though I am at risk of sounding very mushy (which I hate) let’s talk about what marriage looks like to a young couple with young children.
I was listening to Focus on the Family the other day when a couple, who makes their living counseling other couples, explained that they make sure to have a date night every week.
As they were describing their date nights, I assumed they managed one once a month, maybe twice a month. It never occurred to me for a minute that with five kids, this couple managed a date night every week.
They explained how grateful they were for establishing this essential time together, and because of it, their marriage has flourished. Well… how wonderful for them!
My husband and I attempt one date a month, but usually manage to accomplish one every three months.
As I reflected on our failure to make it out the door once in a while, just the two of us, I thought of all the reasons this isn’t plausible. I have been pregnant for half of our five year marriage, which means we have had a newborn every year and a half. Since I stay home with our kids, I am never in a hurry to hire a babysitter and leave my infant to cry and resist a bottle while my husband and I try to enjoy a movie, all the while thinking about how our infant is doing.
The stability of our marriage has never been in question, nor has my husband’s infinite loyalty to me and our family. Connecting with him simply looks different than it did before children.
Sometimes it is in the grin he shoots me across the supper table while one kid talks like it’s going out of style, the other cries for more bread while he throws veggies at the centerpiece, and the other squirms and squeals in my arms. It is in my husband’s grin that I’m reminded of our immense blessings and the love between us that started it all.
Sometimes it is when he grabs my hand while he reads our kids a bedtime story. I’m sitting on the bottom bunk rocking our littlest and the other two are on his lap, but yet, we manage a brief and unspoken moment together.
Sometimes it is in the evening, after a particularly hectic bedtime routine has finally come to an end, when he chooses to sit next to me on the couch, instead of across the room in his own chair. We are too exhausted to talk, so we just watch Netflix and breathe the same air.
Sometimes he surprises me with a bottle of Dr. Pepper, reminding me that he thinks of me even when he is busy at work.
Sometimes I climb into my suburban, running out of daylight to make it to the grocery store, and I notice that he has filled it up with gas, eliminating at least one line on my to-do list.
Sometimes I watch across the dinner table, the kids having been excused long ago with untouched food, as my husband takes another forkful of what I know is a meal falling short of flavor or anything redeeming at all. Yet, he eats it, without complaint, thanking me for taking the time to put food on the table.
Sometimes he stays up late completing one of my many Pinterest projects in the garage. I know he has no desire to have it done and hanging on our wall, but he knows it is important to me.
Sometimes, after saying goodbye to each of our kids, he forgets to kiss me goodbye before he rushes out the door to work. A few minutes later, he strides back through the door, refusing to leave the house without giving me at least a second of his attention.
Sometimes he lets me go spend our money, even though we don’t have enough of it, to get my nails done or buy an outfit I don’t need, just because he knows it makes me feel good to still spend a little money on myself.
Sometimes he listens intently as I weave him in and out of the windy road of my mind and my worries, all the while knowing he won’t be able to help– yet he never fails to listen and remind me, “It will be okay.”
Sometimes he throws in a load of laundry without reminding me I should have had it done days ago.
Sometimes he takes our boys to the basement and burns off endless amounts of their energy because he knows I need some quiet.
Sometimes it is when we clean up the supper table together, just so we can spend some time alone as the kids throw dinosaurs around the living room, unsupervised for a few short minutes.
You see, my husband and I are right in the messiness of this life. We are truly consumed with raising three faithful children and they need our constant and undivided attention. These children are a product of the love between us, and even though this love is sometimes neglected, it is never forgotten.
I don’t mean to imply that our marriage does not need to be a priority, in fact, we are warned in the Bible about the dangers of neglecting our marriage. However, a young couple with many children simply needs to do what they can, and look for the expressions of love where they can. We still strive to have dates and alone time, but when we fail at these things, I will still see him and he will still see me.
Someday he will be all that is left in this life. We will be old and our kids will be gone, but he will still be there. Then maybe, just maybe, we will have the opportunity to finish one of our conversations.