This weekend, Andy and I got away. We left the kids with my brother and parents and ran off on a little weekend just for us. Now, I had some aspirations of putting on a couples weekend myself through the church but frankly, these people at Family Life have been doing it for a really long time and they are just good at it. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Several couples from the church went.
I’m not very big on these conferences. After all, Andy and I have been married 10 years. What more could we need to learn about being married? We’ve already made it!
I know. It’s a little arrogant and naive.
I got there expecting to use the experience as time for Andy and I and basically ignore the speakers and play on my phone and just enjoy being away from my needy kids for a while.
It was so much more than that. When you have 3 kids you slowly lose touch with your spouse and it is so subtle. You are parenting, working, living… only sometimes sleeping. So if there is a conversation that needs to happen, often it gets pushed off because there is no conversation that is going to happen that takes longer than 30 seconds. And Family Life knows how to ask the questions that make those conversations happen.
All I’m saying is, there is alot I have to learn about Andy. There is alot he has to learn about me and although we are happy, we need weekends like this to remind us of that.
If you get a chance to do one, take it. It’s worth it.
I was discussing with someone why the current model of the church isn’t following the early church model and have been formulating a coherent thought about it ever since.
Why aren’t Christians over in war torn countries trying to help? Short answer, we are! There are missionaries from many different organizations who have gone to help the orphans and others. When there is a disaster, Christian organizations are some of the first to respond. In countries like Haiti, organizations have set up permanent residence and are helping on a daily basis, often with no intent to convert but only to offer medical assistance. We don’t hear about these organizations often because they aren’t sensational.
Second answer is this, not all people in the early church or the current model are called to over seas mission. Those who are are talked about in their churches circles and written about in books. Those who stay behind and fund these endeavors are often not talked about at all unless their contribution is huge and considered newsworthy by the sensational new media. Even in the early church there were more who were converted and did mission work in their own towns than left and traveled to convert others. Look at Dorcas, Priscilla and Aquila, Peter’s mother in law and many others. Paul was constantly writing to churches he started and why would he bother if every convert was out on the road prosthelytizing? Some people have to stay home and minister to their own community.
Communal living was a big part of the early church and frankly, the church has to grow with the culture in which it thrives. This communal living may work in countries other than the USA but here, where I live and now, when I live, culture is not at all like what it was when Jesus and his followers started the first group of Christians. (Also remember that people were worshiping God, the same God, long before we were called Christians. Now I am no theologian but just these few insights have changed the way I look at the Bible and its description of how the church should look. However, this should not detract from the message of the Bible and Christianity. We are to spread the message of God’s Love. How that looks and is accomplished is a matter of semantics.
If you read my articles, you know that there are many (most) times when I make grammatical errors and/or spelling mistakes so you may not believe I have much to say about how to use the English language. I hope you will indulge me and read my little observation about phrasing and how it has changed my life.
I recall a time not so long ago when I was talking to another mother (I was barely beginning my foray into motherhood), and the sentence went something like this, “Well, I’m sure she is a great mother but…” And that ellipsis was a slew of uncomplimentary comments that ground the ladies parenting down to nothing. Had she heard me, she would have thought I wanted to send her and her “great parenting” off to social services!
So… I was told many many times that phrasing is important and although I am not perfect at this yet, I find that the simple turn of phrase is a great way to change your way of speaking about things and therefore looking at things. For example, “She makes mistakes like we all do but she does this amazing thing…” And THAT ellipsis builds up. THAT ellipsis includes. What comes after that ellipsis tends to take her to new heights and give hope.
What do you think? Can phrasing change your life?
If you expect that when you get married and have a baby, that baby will be first in both your lives…. get over it now. Babies and kids take up alot of time because they can’t feed themselves and they need to be changed and then they have to be dressed and even when they are partially self sufficient, we can’t boot them out the door at 6 and expect them to be successful. They have to be supported and taught.
However, this should not take priority over your husband/wife. This has been discussed over and over at length, even by me. I’m not divorced and I don’t have other children that are not Andy’s and he has no other’s that are not mine. It’s hard for me to comment on a situation with which I have no experience but I would venture to say that even when you’re children are not mutual, they should not take priority over your marriage.
One way you can show this to your spouse is by getting some childcare every now and then (weekly is ideal but not always practical), so you can both do something together without the kids. Another way is to not allow the kids to interrupt a conversation between mommy and daddy. Another good way to to set a very strict bedtime (in your room) time for the kids allowing mommy and daddy to have a few minutes alone at the end of everyday to communicate without being asked for snacks, water, help with this project, a story, and/or any other plethora of things they want from you.
What are your ideas? How do you make time for your spouse in a parenting world that makes the kids kings?
When I was in high school I had friends of all genders. However, when I got married, this had to change. I had some guy friends who were really good friends but when Andy and I got together, not for lack of trust, I intentionally was more careful with those friendships. Whether it’s my fascination with When Harry Met Sally or whatever, I understand that guys and girls can’t be “best friends” and nothing else. Andy had to be my best friend and all others had to be after that. He had to be my priority. I intentionally had to become friends with my guy friends girlfriends. I couldn’t invite just him out for coffee. The wife needed that invitation. The girlfriend had to feel like I was trying to be their friend or her friend but if I focused on him, I was a threat. I made a special effort to include Andy’s girl friends in activities that we did together so he wouldn’t lose the friendship. If I wanted to do an activity with a guy friend, I always made sure Andy could come.
Any time I felt like I wanted special attention from a male, I was even more careful.
It’s easy to say, “We’re just friends,” and use some sitcom as a model for how we have friends. But Chandler and Monica got married, and even though Ross and Rachel took a break, they ended up together. Phoebe and Joey always felt a little on the outside.
So let’s be honest, it’s not ok. It’s not ok for our spouse to be anything other than first priority. We can’t be sitting around in some other persons house, shooting the breeze when it could easily become a compromising situation. We can’t be making life plans over coffee with someone other than our spouse… alone. We have to want him first. We have to look at him first and all this has to be intentional. It’s not natural. It’s got to be a choice and soon it will be second nature but it’s not what comes easy.
What do you think? Am I to rigid about this idea? Does your spouse have friends of the opposite gender that you don’t mind? Do they spend alot of time together?
So, we are all grown ups, presumably, when we get married and yet there are many times when I see a relationship circling the toilet bowl because one or the other or both are being treated like children.
Ladies – Men are grown ups. How many times have I heard, “He couldn’t survive if I was gone for a few days.” I beg to differ. He might be eating out of a can for a while but he will survive. He might not put the kid in anything but jammies for 3 days but they will both survive. Men can handle life and parenting and all of that without us. It doesn’t mean they want to. I just means they can. They can learn to cook. They are capable of cleaning the house. They can get a job on their own and they will figure out how to schedule their own dental appointments. They can handle it. And sometimes we REALLY need to let them… WITHOUT CRITICIZING! It’s important for us to let them do the dishes and then not fix it if it wasn’t done our way. It’s important for us to let them make a meal and then eat it and not say anything about how it could have been better.
Men – Women are grown ups. They can put together a dresser, change a tire and drive just as good if not better than you. Women are completely capable of holding down a job, mowing the lawn and taking out the trash. Ladies can do anything you can do… and it’s important for you to let us sometimes. This isn’t the death of chivalry. But just as you don’t like being criticized, neither do we. It’s not fun being a superwoman. It’s not fun doing it all. But it’s possible.
Once you realize that you are not needed like a parent is needed by a baby but wanted, your relationship will change for the better. I promise.