Marriage Advice From A Christian Perspective

How to Love Your Spouse More Than Your Kids

  • September McCarthy Raising Generations Today
  • 2017 15 Nov
How to Love Your Spouse More Than Your Kids

The silence was so heavy it pressed on my heart like a vise. I would sit at the dinner table and inwardly fume at the imperfections I felt existed in the man at the head of our table. Hearing him rise and leave in the morning turned to relief for me. It gave my mind a break from evaluating the reasons we weren’t seeing eye to eye or why our time together often turned into conflict.

Was I falling out of love with the man I pledged my life to? No one told me that I could have such lonely, silent times in a marriage. I didn’t know that the arguments would be heartbreaking and our selfishness would loom in front of me as I washed dishes or folded the laundry, cared for my babes, and lived life as “the wife and the mama.”

My loneliness, the disagreements, and even the love that we had shared together, seemed to slowly fade into busy lives caring for children—lives filled with exhaustion, short fuses, and weariness. My role as a mother seemed to completely take over. Until there was (almost) nothing left to the man and wife that God joined together from the beginning of time.

When did motherhood take priority over my marriage?

Turn Your Heart Back to Your First Love

My heart took a very slow turn one evening when I was pressing garlic into the soup crock and heard the front door open and close with the rhythm I knew to be my man’s arrival. I could hear the familiar sounds of him sitting on the steps in the foyer to untie the long, dusty laces that kept the heavy boots on his feet all day while he hammered and lifted and built. His sighs and the moan as he stretched his tired body to rise from the steps to wash up for dinner sent a tingle of familiarity through my bones.

Had this been yesterday, I would have walked into the other room to avoid conversation or any approach of his presence. But this very night, God was moving in my spirit, and I waited at the stove. He walked slowly from the sink, and the scent of lumber, sun, and air was fresh in his passing. I never knew that the sun had a scent until I loved for the first time. God gave me a builder. A craftsman, working with his hands and with the elements that I grew to love as much as I loved my man. But falling out of love didn’t take away this memory. It was another monumental moment, softening my heart.

I can’t take one ounce of credit for what God was doing in moments like those. He was chipping away at my hardened love. Some people might look back and think we were a mess, and they would be so right. I wish someone had come alongside us to lovingly tell us that parenting is not a priority over marriage. It takes a lot of love to make a home, but our spouse deserves the firstfruits.

You cannot really fall out of love. You just need to figure out when you began loving something else more. Your love is like a strong cord and it can never break or go away. We had just let go of the rope, or let it uncoil to the ground in a loose pile.

But the love that God joins together cannot be broken. Once my eyes were opened to the love I had lavishly poured out onto my children and withheld from my husband, I knew we had a lot of adjustments to make in our home.

Even When You Think You Are Right

If there is anything I am sure of, during or after a conflict with my builder, it is this: I am right. Why can’t he just see, come around to my side of the issue, or listen more? I’m being sarcastic, of course. The detangling of an argument should never take place in a heated moment.

Remember that it takes two people to maintain a loving relationship; and when one of you has checked out, or placed a diagnosis on the other, then only one of you is actively working to solve the problem.

Your Children Need You, But Not That Much

The day the builder looked me in the eyes and told me he needed me more than I needed him was the day I realized what I had done. I had created an idol out of my motherhood. I was still present as a wife. I still loved my man, and I was committed to making our home the very best I could for him, but not with him. We were working toward the same goal as two separate entities rather than two people who formed one force, one purpose.

After 27 years of marriage, I have discovered that my truest of heroes and the man who fights for my motherhood more than anyone is my builder. He has seen the sacrifice and he has surrendered the most of any of us. He waited for me to come around to the other side of the deep breath that took me away from his focus for a time.

Where to Go From Here

When we realize how much we have let go of, we may begin to blame ourselves for missing the moments that we can never replace. You did the best you could in the time you had. We are discovering the new person we are becoming while growing old with a man who is watching this craziness from the other side of the bed.

While we and our spouses fumble along in this new, expanding life with respective fears and uncertainties, it’s easy to start on separate paths. The thing is this: We can grow with one another, rather than going our different ways, handling our ever-growing families, bodies, and budgets alone.

When the builder and I became a true team, the change was evident to our children. It drastically changed our parenting and our model of loving. If there is one word to clearly define the instrument of our beginnings together, our restart, it is this: humility.

Loving Together Checklist

Every one of us is inclined to lose sight of that which is most important in our lives. Often those things that matter the most to us get in the way of our first loves. As you go through your day, answer these questions and take the action steps:

1. Am I functioning off my own to-do lists daily?

2. Have we lost our vision as a couple?

3. Kiss every day. In front of the children.

4. Do we communicate about our needs and desires more than business as usual?

5. Are we working as a team in our parenting?

6. Go to bed together at the same time.

7. Always say I’m sorry in current time.

8. Remember that we are both changing. Learn to love the new.

9. Never stop talking.

10. Be available to each other at all times.

Soon you will notice the difference, and so will your kids.

Adapted from: {Why} Motherhood Matters. Copyright © 2017 by September McCarthy. Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, OR. Used by permission.

September McCarthy believes every woman needs someone to speak into her life with understanding and truth. She encourages women in each season of motherhood through her blog, One September Day, and her ministry Raising Generations Today. As a speaker and writer, her vision and mission is for the generations. September lives in rural Upstate New York with her husband and their large family.