Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Balancing Marriage & Children

Rooted & Grounded

“…that you, rooted and grounded in love, may know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all of the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:17

Let’s compare a big, old tree to marriage. The tree has wide deep roots and is tall and strong. Not many storms can take it down, no strong wind can blow it very hard and after it is all said and done it bears much fruit.

Now regarding marriage, it takes hard times to grow deep roots and once you have deep roots you are grounded in faith. Once you are grounded in faith, you bear much fruit.

A tree doesn’t keep score on which side took the brunt end of the storm last time so it is the other side’s turn to brave the storm this time around. Or it doesn’t say “I really worked hard on my side to shed leaves last fall, now it is your turn to work hard and do most of the shedding. A tree grows together, moves together and sheds leaves together “as a team”. When it has deep roots and strong branches, it bears much fruit together.

I consider having babies and toddlers a form of growing branches on our tree of marriage. Although they are God’s greatest gifts, it is a very hard job. While they are the greatest blessing, they require constant care and attention to make sure they don’t “break, fall, or freeze off”. So while we are attending to the branches of our tree, it is very easy to put the “base of the tree”, your husband, on the back burner…..”his needs can wait”. But in all actuality, his needs can’t wait, neither can yours. You and your husband were together and a team before any of these little “branches” were born. It is vital for spouses to make time for each other every day….to “feed” and nurture your marriage. Just as branches can not rule a tree, you can not let children rule the home, you and your husband are the foundation….you rule! NO IF, ANDS, or BUTS! Your marriage needs babying too during these hard times where your roots are growing deep. While we all have different hobbies and interest, it is important to be together as a family as much as possible as well as go on dates with your husband. The full Saturday of golf, guys trips, hunting, girls trips to Vegas, is just going to have to be put on hold for the time being! Until these little ones are raised, you have to be there for each other and work as a team or major resentment will start to brew. The wise saying “everything in moderation” reigns true for just about everything in life. Keep recreation outside the family extremely moderate until your babies are raised. Think of the hard times you have experienced with your husband and see them as growing deep root.. Remember what Christ tells us, “when going through hard times, rejoice, for the Holy Spirit is at work in you!” What are some different examples of what the world says is “terrible” that might actually be helping the roots in your marriage deepen? What are some different ways we can nurture our marriage?

Helping each other get to heaven

A dear friend who is a priest once told me that through marriage, God gives each one of us a sacred trust; to prepare our mate to spend eternity in heaven with him. “On your wedding day, you accepted a huge task until the day you die. God has made you responsible, second only to the saving work of Jesus Christ and your partner’s free will, to see that your husband becomes the person God created him to be. And, you accepted that you sincerely believe you have a better chance, with your partner than without him, of becoming all God intends you to be” states Dr. Popcak. You are a team to help cheer on one another to use your God given talents, go for your dreams all the while growing in faith and love for Christ and each other.

Just like we discussed about our children, we are to be Christ for our husbands and they are to be Christ for us. In being Christ for each other, we are to constantly give of ourselves to one another. Jesus says, “In giving of yourself, you shall receive.” We are to make sacrifices for one another. There is NOTHING selfish about a marriage….it is giving of complete self. As hard as it is, it is as simple as that! The world has become so self absorbed and centered on the almighty dollar that the simplicity of marriage and the beauty of love and self sacrifice has become lost in the war of “what is in it for me? What are you going to do for me?” “Love is a selfless surrender of everything one has and is for the sake of another.” R. Hogan Companion of love

We can not not talk about one of the most important aspects of giving of yourself to your spouse…..that is sex of course. J When Clint and I were talking to our priest about getting married he told us that making love is a form of prayer. Too often as wives, we are so tired of “meeting the needs” of our children that when it comes time to fall into bed from sheer exhaustion, the last thing we want to do is “meet the needs” of our husband! But again, this goes back to giving of ourselves. Dr. Popcak says “whenever you hold back in your married life, you prevent God from loving your mate the way He wants to love him- the way your mate needs to be loved.” Thinking of love making as a prayer and a spiritual connection with God and becoming one with your husband is truly giving of yourself. I am no expert on this subject but there are great books out there that will help you look at love making the way God created it to be, not in the sick and twisted way the world has put its stamp on it. Holy Sex by Dr. Greg Popcak (the same author I am basing this lesson on) is suppose to be great.

How can you and your husband help each other become all that God created you to be? If your husband passed away tomorrow, would you be able to say you did everything you could, as his wife and best friend, to help him get to heaven?

The Dangerous Game of Keeping Score

We are all guilty of it….the ongoing game of keeping score. Who changed the baby’s diaper last, who gave the kids a bath last, I cooked dinner so you better do the dishes, and I did laundry last…. and the game goes on and on. The driving force behind this dangerous game is no other than Satan himself and the virtue of selfishness. Where do you think Satan is going to begin his work in breaking up a family, which is his greatest vice? The marriage of course. And what better way then to create resentment, bitterness and selfishness between husband and wife, than keeping score? “We are constantly being tempted to play manipulative games with our mates, valuing our own convenience and comfort above all else. When we do this, husbands and wives slowly turn each other into shriveled up, bitter, emotional score keepers.” Dr. Popcak Let’s read that powerful line again and discuss.

This game can drive a good marriage to bad fast. A way to overcome keeping score is once again a thing called “team work”….. having the attitude that no job is too great or too little for either spouse. Husbands can change diapers and put a dish in the dishwasher and wives, we can take out the trash if our husband is stressed from work and forgot. No one wants to do these mundane, every day tasks that makes the world go round but you do them for each other out of LOVE AND SELFLESSNESS.

As wives, we strive to Be All and Do All with a smile. But sometimes whether we are sick or just have had a bad day, we need the help of our best friend, our husband. Working together is better than working alone. And by working together, being SELFLESS, and stop keeping score, there will be harmony and peace in our marriage and in our homes.

Does anyone want to share what score keeping games are eating at your marriage? We live in a very 50/50 society. How can we overcome this mentality that only hurts a marriage and be living examples of positive self sacrificing women of God?

HOMEWORK: Read Daniel Beene’s excerpt about her take on keeping score.

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