I've been reading 2 excellent marriage books this summer: The meaning of marriage, by Timothy Keller and Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs. I would highly recommend both. Sometimes marriage books can be real downers because they just make you feel like a big fat loser and your marriage will never finish the 10 steps to perfection. These have not made me feel that way, but have opened my eyes to so many different things. This past week, both books talked about our relationship with our kids and they were topics I've never thought about before.
Here's the essence in my words:
A women's greatest need is to be loved. A man's greatest need is to be respected. If a woman doesn't feel loved, she won't give respect. If a man doesn't feel respected, he won't give love. So both need to give unconditional love and respect to each other and always believe that the others intentions are for the good. So now the kids come into play. A woman is naturally loving and freely gives love, but when love is not poured back into her, her well begins to dry up. Children give back only a small percentage of love. A mother will get a smile or hug or maybe even an "I love you" but that's only a fraction of all that she's poured out. Thus, when a mother's well is dry, her tone becomes sharp and her patience is minimal.
However, a mother is still extremely gracious to her child. The baby has a cold? A mother stays up all night making sure she can breath, makes several special trips to the store to buy whatever it is that could possibly make her feel better and spends the entire day snuggling and wiping a snotty nose. The toddler throws a giant tantrum? A mother calmly says "I'm sorry you're having a hard day. You must need a trip to the park to get your energy out."
But, if our Hubs has a cold, we tell him to buck up and while you're at it, we could use a back rub because we've been holding a fussy baby all day. If Hubs is upset, fiery is thrown back and how dare he be upset when we've been listening to a whining toddler all day.
Mother's sacrifice personal birthday money for kid's shoes but quickly get angry when Hubs expresses a need for new socks. We move around schedules and appointments to do the activities the kids want to do, but Hubs better not watch that football game or turn on Angry Birds.
Need an example? Sunday morning I stepped out of the shower to find Charlie covered in poop. He was standing in our room and had pulled down his dirty diaper, thus wiping poop all down his legs and leaving poop on the floor. I scoop him up, getting poop all over me, and plopped him in the tub. He started screaming bloody murder because apparently it's cool to go to church smelling like poo. Hubs walks in and says, "Bye Honey! I'll see you at church (he was leading worship)". Seeing the poop scene, he asks if he can help before he leaves. I shot him a frustrated look and gave him a sharp "Just go to church!". Yes, yes...happy Sunday! See? I was willing to cover myself in poop, but couldn't give Hubs the respect of saying "I really appreciate you offering to help but I can give him a bath so you can get to church on time".
It's really interesting to me how differently we treat our husbands from our children. I pray that we can change it. I pray that women will start to give their husbands unconditional, sacrificial love and respect. More than that, I started thinking about how we can make sure that our marriage comes before kids. It is so easy to let raising kids consume conversations and daily life and time for your spouse slips away.
As I was thinking about this concept this week, I realized what we have...we have dinner time. Every evening, Hubs comes home and jumps into what I'm cooking for dinner. We love cooking together and hanging out in the kitchen. This is what we have and we decided to make it a little more sacred. I started giving the kids activities to do while we're cooking dinner: playdough or coloring or maybe even save screen time for this time. It might seem harsh for us to say "We're cooking dinner and this is our time" but I think it actually really good for them to hear. It's good for them to know that we're making time for each other on a daily basis and are enjoying our time.
We started the adventure of canning this week, because we like to live on the edge :) And the perks of being married to a foodie= they spontaneously whip of peach cobbler.