By Amanda Idleman, Crosswalk.com
Stop and take a moment to remember what it was like to fall in love. As the years pass it becomes easier and easier to forget the beginning. What led you to choosing a life together? Usually, our love stories start out so stupidly simple. There is magic in those precious first moments that lead to a lifetime together, but as time passes, being in love can start to feel complex. We seem to forget the once intoxicating joy of just being together.
During the middle years of this marriage thing, we can start to can feel like responsibilities of life somehow multiply daily! We have bills to pay, jobs to keep, kids to care for, and just so much to do in the day. Life is full.
Yet, when we take a step back and reflect on our lives and marriages, the need to be a team only grows as the plot of life thickens. The person you started this journey with has surely changed but the reality is you’ve both changed together. When was the last time you remembered to let your partner how much you appreciate the ways you’ve grown together? Do they know how much you count on them to make it through the laundry list of things that need to be done in the day?
The honest truth is even though love grows through the years, we often show it less than ever.
It’s hard to remember you are in love when making the bed feels more urgent than making love; when getting through bedtime replaces time to catch up on how we are doing; when temper tantrums, push your patience to the no-no land; when sleep is a dreamed about luxury; when keeping up one’s figure is trumped by park snacks and kid treats; when the schedule looks like a game of Tetris.
Yet, without that love that brought you here, would the busy be so sweet? Would the work to keep your family moving be so worth it? The love that brought you together?, to become an us, is the engine that keeps this life thing running.
Even if we don’t show it as well as we should, it’s important to remember we are still in love. You and your spouse; that’s the light at the end of a long day. The love you share is the icing on the cake. Taking the time to connect is what you both can look forward to, even if it’s just five minutes of catching up before you both pass out.
How do we keep love at the center of our marriages, when life is pulling you in all directions?
1. We pause and remember the sweet nothings that led us to now.
We take time to remember falling in love. We reflect on how sweet it is just to know each other. We tell each other that we are a team and we have each other’s backs. In the midst of the hustle, we remember we are in love.
2. Know that the hard seasons won’t last forever.
The best is yet to come! If we are willing to stick with it, during the often hectic and stress filled years of raising a young family, the reward preserving as a couple is a sweet one. When you are feeling disconnected in your marriage, remember this is just a season and easier days will come. Thankfully, the hard days aren’t a whole or complete picture of a marriage. God often uses tougher seasons to grow us in our faith as individuals and as a couple. Reflect on how you’ve grown and rejoice that you’ve made progress.
Don’t stay discouraged by failure when you face harder stretches in your marriage. Sometimes, the lie that your doing nothing right can kill our ability to love each other well and move forward together. Grace is needed for the harder days, weeks or even years. It’s important not to let the intensity that the years of having young children steal away the chance to grow old together. You won’t do it all perfect together, that’s a promise, but remember you will get past sleep deprivation and spit up (one day)!
3. Don’t let exhaustion be your excuse for a lack of tenderness towards your spouse.
How easy is it to give yourself a free pass for bad behavior when it comes to your spouse. We often save our worst for the one that we love the most. If you’ve found yourself only offering impatient words to your spouse, it may be time to find more ways to recharge together and individually so you aren’t only interacting with each other only from a place of stress and reaction. While grace when we have our bad days is necessary to have a long lasting love, continuously offering each other only our worst selves is a recipe for long term disaster.
4. Be intentional and let each other know that the other matters.
That long to-do list doesn’t get tackled on it’s own. We accomplish the tasks of the day with effort. It’s the simple, unseen work, like taking out the trash or changing another diaper, that most deserves a thank you. When we forget to appreciate each other, the temptation to become bitter in our hearts for the work we are doing to keep our families going is hard to resist. Don’t forget you are a team! Teams work best when they know their roles, feel appreciated and operate with unity.
Marriage matters and and is worth fighting for, even in the midst of life’s hustle. Your union is worth the effort, the pause, and even the late night conversations to make sure you are on the same page. Be reminded, love must stay at the center of your marriage, even on the least romantic of days.
This adapted blog post was originally posted on rvahouseofjoy.wordpress.com.
Photo Credit: ©Thinkstock/Yasin Emir Akbas
Amanda Idleman is a wife, homeschooling Momma to three amazing kids and is passionate about encouraging others to live joyfully. She also loves to write as a freelance writer and on her blog (when she finds a spare moment for it). You can find out more about Amanda at her blog rvahouseofjoy.wordpress.com or follow her on Instagram at rvahouseofjoy.