I don’t know if you are like me, but as a work from home mom, life was actually pretty similar for us pre-quarantine. I hardly left the house *introvertdreams*, and our kids had a strict bedtime of 6 pm every night (call me crazy but I LOVE time alone with my hubby + sometimes work spills over into the night hours), so leaving the house has been quite an issue for me over the last several years. Don’t get me wrong, we love to go hiking and to the park and play outdoors with our kiddos, but in the day-to-day routine, I have learned a LOT about how to be intentional in my marriage whether we are out and about on a date or staying home for long periods of time. I’d love to share that with you riiiiight here!
My husband and I have had the blessing of a phenomenal marriage mentorship since before we were married with the incredible Steve and Cindy Wright of MarriageMissions.com. They have been with us since our pre-marital days and have stuck with us through thick and thin, and have helped us work through a lot of our nagging issues, encouraging us to go to counseling individually when we needed to, and also suggested marriage coaching for us, through MarriageTeam.org These two resources have been absolute God-sends for us, in equipping us with actual skills that we haven’t been taught, like conflict resolution, walking through forgiveness at such a deep level, and having another couple who can coach us through issues we don’t even know are really right under the surface because we are so busy and don’t slow down on our own to examine and reflect. So, those two things are incredible resources, but take some time investment, which is nottt what the article is about today. However, I will always reference these two great ministries for marriage because they have been so, so helpful for my husband and I!
So, what do you do when you really WANT to be intentional about your marriage, but you are exhausted, busy, have a million things on your mind regarding work, not to mention kiddos tugging on you and also things that HAVE to be paid attention to (like did your toddler just poop NOT on the potty during potty training?? Oh gosh, here I come with disinfectant again, corner behind the couch…) Here is just ONE tip to start with for you busy working mamas who are doing the best you can to juggle all the things (because I’m not going to overwhelm you with a BUNCH of things to do!)
First – And you really have to hear me on this one… because you might call me crazy when you look at this one… You HAVE to take care of yourself. That is number one! I am not talking being selfish, not talking leaving for days on end to go to a hotel and make your husband carry the load by himself (although that does sound kind of dreamy, honestly). I am saying, set apart time in your day (ten minutes even!) where you pour into yourself (or, if you are a Christian, allow the Lord to pour into you, in my opinion that is the most filling thing for our spirits).
I even asked my husband, “What three things can I do to most impact our marriage, knowing how busy I am?” His response, “Find our what your needs are and meet them.” I was SO ANNOYED!! Like literally, beyond annoyed at that response. I thought he was going to say “be more cheerful” or “spend less time working”, something that I honestly would love to hear once in awhile, but I bit my lip and thanked him for his response… and I have been chewing on it ever since. Hmm… Find out what my needs are and meet them… Listen, he’s a Christian, he understands that God meets all of our needs, but I think he is on to something.
Transitioning into being a married woman, and then into being a mom, and thennn being a mom of multiple kiddos, PLUS starting a whole new career journey as an online service provider has left me feeling really shaky in my own identity. I’m in such a different place as the last time I really knew who I was. My tastes in clothes have changed, my favorite meals have changed, my activities and hobbies have changed, even tv shows that I like have changed. For me, in my season of life, I really do need to re-evaluate what charges me. I can’t even invite my husband into things I LOVE to do, because honestly, I don’t even know what I love to do anymore! So, taking a quick morning and jotting down things that make you smile, or things you wish you had time to do, figuring those out, and then trying, once a week, or once a month to do one of those things!
Call me a nerd, but the most fun I’ve had this month was taking some big river rocks from our front yard inside and painting them with my three-year old. I literally just painted Olaf’s face on a rock and I was like, “WHERE ARE ALL THE ROCKS IN THE WORLD, I’M COMING FOR YOUUU!” Because it was so joy-filling for me! I also started running again, outside in a grass field that is (semi) near our house where I can look at the mountains. And I have started baking again! Healthy desserts, bc let’s be honest, I’m not getting younger and weight gain is a REAL thing when you eat so many chocolate chip cookies… But, these are things that I had stopped doing for awhile and I really love them!
How does this impact my marriage? Well, according to my husband, it makes me happier, and he admitted, marriage isn’t about happiness necessarily, but it doesn’t hurt to have a cheerful wife and mom. And, some of those things that really bring me joy, I can then on date nights or hangout days not stare glossy-eyed at my husband and say, “I don’t care what we do, you choose” and then get mad because he picks something that sucks. *ha #wifelife*. I can show him my list of things and say I love doing all of these things, pick something from here! Or he can have a list for him too (but I’m trying to focus mainly on you here…) and you guys can pick from each others lists. Come on, who are you, really?! And what brings you joy? Spend some time figuring that out and then try some of the things out, and NO FEELING GUILTY! You are making yourself more cheerful and less resentful towards your family when you get to do things you like too.
So, THIS is my tip for you?! I read through a blog on how to make my marriage better and you told me to go find things I like to do and do them? Won’t that make my husband way more annoyed at me spending time away from him and the kids? Actually, I think you would be super surprised if you told your husband, “I’m going for a quick run!”. He probably wants a wife who is healthy, and takes care of herself. And listen, no shame from me here if you don’t know how or where, I literally couldn’t exercise for a full year after my second son was born, from several herniated discs in pregnancy. I was just in a lot of pain, but when I mustered up the courage to start working out again, you should have seen the look on my husband’s face, he was SO proud of me. It’s part of our phrase we say in our house #longtermlove. We’re taking care of ourselves now so we can be present with each other longer (that’s his motto for us).
If you love baking or love creating or love reading books curled up under a blanket with a hot cup of tea, or if you love meeting with a friend for coffee, or if you love imagining the next trend you’re going to try out in decorating your living room, or gardening, or playing an instrument, or if you take a four hour extended quiet time once a month and spend time with Jesus in the mountains, or if you have a house project that finishing will just fuel you with passion and purpose, then girl! Get to it! A few hours a week dedicated to getting recharged will go a loooong way in an empty mama’s heart – Find those things that bring you joy and do them. And then, when you are riding that small wave of joy that comes from doing something that is fun for you, go back and share that joy with your family – hug them, and laugh with them, and encourage them to do activities that fill them too.
Hebrews 12:15 says, “See to it that… no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble.” That’s a command, SEE TO IT. So one of the ways we avoid bitterness is not allowing ourselves to come under SUCH a mode of victim and slave BY ensuring that we are doing things that fill us up. Imagine a marriage where you weren’t afraid or didn’t feel guilty to go leave the house and get yourself a cup of coffee, or go for a walk by yourself with headphones in and listen to your favorite song for 20 min on repeat.
It’s not even that our husband’s make us feel this way, I think it’s just a struggle we have that when we try to do things for ourselves we automatically think: if we’re not serving others or accomplishing things or being productive, we are not fulfilling our role as wife and mother. But it simply isn’t true. When we are proactive, we can cut that root of bitterness that comes from the feeling of, “I do everything for this family and I get nothing in return.” or the feeling of “I’m working so hard, and no one sees how much I am doing” Those thoughts right there are roots of bitterness that are just waiting in the shadows to spring up and you can imagine every kind of argument that could stem from a heart filled with those patterns of thinking.
But, if you have a heart that is full of “I am working so hard to support my family, and I love that I get this set apart time every week just to myself. It makes me appreciate my family so much, that they are generous with me, and I want to be generous with them in return”. Totally different feeling. And imagine you have that one activity you look forward to once a month, or weekly, and you get to do it. Then imagine sitting with your husband after the kiddos go to bed – what does your heart feel towards him now, even just imagining that scenario? SO. MUCH. APPRECIATION. and in turn, you want to give even more love and affection to him. Okay, enough here, I think you get the point now!
My heart is for you, busy working mama AND wife, to figure out the things you find joy in doing and go do them, being proactive in cutting that root of bitterness out of the way, so you can have the fruits of the spirit grow instead, “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.” How much easier is it to live that kind of life when you know that you have dedicated time to recharge?
If you find an activity that you love doing and commit to some weekly or monthly time to do it, can you please share below in the comments? I ADORE hearing about women who find time to recharge in the middle of the crazy mom/wife life AND working. You are my heros and I am so proud of you for taking care of your family by making sure they have a mom who is filled and cheerful.
You can do it mama, or should I say in this blog, #wifey!