Enjoy Life with Your Spouse While Raising Your Kids
- Whitney Hopler Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2010 10 Oct
Reading stories, changing diapers, teaching or helping with homework, driving to sports games and music lessons, preparing meals, making crafts, hosting play dates, disciplining, answering questions, and plenty more … Parents have a lot of work to do. You and your spouse want to be great parents, so you devote lots of time and energy to your kids. But how much do you devote to each other?
It's easy to neglect your marriage when you're feeling overwhelmed by parenting demands. But if you and your spouse are lousy lovers, your parenting will suffer, too, because the best gift you can give your kids is to let them see God's love at work in your relationship with each other.
So start enjoying life with your spouse while you raise your kids, building a strong marriage that will give your family the foundation God wants it to have. Here's how:
Change from a kid-centered home to one that promotes a close marriage. Rather than planning your family's schedule around what your kids want to do, let them know that you and your spouse are in charge. Give yourselves permission to do activities together with your spouse that will nurture your marriage - without feeling guilty about having to take some time, energy, and money away from the kids to do so. Instead of letting your kids do whatever they want to do and create chaos in your home, discipline them with love by training them to respect you and your spouse and the marriage you share.
Maintain margin and rhythm in your schedule. The stress of being too busy will harm your marriage if you rush from one activity to another with no breaks in between. Give yourselves the time you need to rest and relax by planning blocks of unscheduled time between activities and adjusting your schedule to the natural rhythm of the season of life your family is in right now. Be intentional about how you use your time, resisting the distractions of activities that aren't important and focusing on those that help you fulfill God's purposes for your lives.
Care for your family's journeys. While it is important for you and your spouse to help your kids grow closer to Christ through their own spiritual journeys, it's also important for you to care for your own spiritual journey (by praying and reading the Bible often), your spouse's spiritual journey (encouraging your spouse while removing all expectations for him or her to meet your spiritual and emotional needs, which only God can do), and your marriage journey (by learning how to truly enjoy life with each other). Keep in mind that your children can grow best on their own spiritual journeys when they see that their parents' marriage reflects Christ's love.
Dream together. Don't let the grind of life's routines, responsibilities, and pressures stop either you or your spouse from dreaming about the future. Dreaming and discussing your dreams together will benefit your marriage in many ways, such as by raising your desire for each other, filling your days with possibilities, and creating excitement and anticipation in your marriage.
Have fun together. Maintain a schedule of regular date nights, and make time to pursue other fun activities with your spouse so you can take breaks from parenting duties and let your hearts be carefree.
Laugh together. Enjoy humor with your spouse as often as possible. Laughing together will help you strengthen your bond, reduce stress, and even improve health.
Touch each other often. Every day, give your spouse different types of meaningful touch to express your love for him or her in both affectionate and sexual ways. Keep in mind that the health of your sex life depends on the strength of the emotional security between you, so work on your friendship when working on your sexual relationship. Don't hesitate to make appointments with each other for sex, so you can make it happen in the midst of your busy schedules. Remove distractions such as toys from the place where you plan to be romantic, and lock the door. Try to conserve your energy on days when you've made romantic appointments with your spouse, so you have enough energy left over for sex.
Work with your gender differences. Accept the differences between men and women as God's design. Ask God to give you the wisdom to know how best to use the differences between you and your spouse to complement each other and build a stronger marriage as a result.
Seek God together through adventures in church. Participate in a local church with your spouse, growing closer to Christ together through various adventures there, worshipping, studying, serving, and growing into people who can love God and each other more deeply.
Adapted from Great Parents, Lousy Lovers: Discover How to Enjoy Life with Your Spouse While Raising Your Kids, copyright 2010 by Dr. Gary Smalley and Ted Cunningham. Published by Tyndale House Publishers, Carol Stream, Ill., www.tyndale.com.
Gary Smalley is the author and coauthor of 16 best-selling, award-winning books along with several popular films and videos. He has spent more than 30 years learning, teaching, and counseling. In the last 30 years, Gary has spoken to more than 2 million people in live conferences. He has been presenting his live two-day workshop, "Love Is a Decision," once a month for the last 20 years. Television audiences all over the world have viewed his award-winning infomercial, "Hidden Keys to Loving Relationships." This videotape series has sold more than 4 million tapes. Gary and his wife, Norma, have been married for 40 years and live in Branson, Missouri. They have three children, Kari, Greg, and Michael, and six grandchildren.
Ted Cunningham, a pastor and speaker, has coauthored three books with Dr. Gary Smalley: The Language of Sex; From Anger to Intimacy; and As Long as We Both Shall Live. After graduating from Liberty University and Dallas Theological Seminary, he founded and continues to pastor Woodland Hills Family Church in Branson, Missouri. Ted and his wife, Amy, have been married for 14 years. They both love taking road trips and spending time at Table Rock Lake with their two children, Corynn and Carson.