One of the hardest parts of parenting is no day is the same, yet, the days can run into weeks and feel unending. This can weigh heavy on any couple. When parenting and marriage get hard, the days seem extra long. It’s easy to get stuck feeling like those hard moments or days are all the time or every day. We have learned it is important to keep things in perspective. It is important to not let our emotions paint the perspective. I have a hard time showing love to my spouse when we get stuck in this hard cycle of unending days of trial.
God has called us to love others in specific ways. Ways in which he showed physical examples so that we could follow. In John 13:34, Jesus says to love each other based on how he has loved us. Ephesians 5:2 Jesus says to walk in love like he did as he was sacrificed for us. Several more verses point to his sacrifice as the ultimate act of love (e.g., Ephesians 5:25, 1 John 3:16).
Galatians 2:2, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”
This one is the one I feel gets glossed over. What does it mean? When we first got together a friend told us that she had heard at a marriage conference that marriage was the fast track to discipleship. Why? Because it is easy to look at our partner and see their faults, and hard not to point them out to our partner. Iron sharpening iron can be painful and no longer poetic when your spouse points out your flaws.
It is easy to spend all your childhood and single adult years brainstorming your future and what your own marriage and family will look like someday. It is harder to then get another person to share all the same visions as you.
When we came together as one, we were two different people, who now needed to operate as a unified front. This unification has been challenged by family, friends, and yes, our children. They will look for any crack in the foundation to exploit, to crumble our unification as it suits their own wills and desires. These cracks, however, are often grown from our own selfish ambitions. These desires are not all bad, they just become bad when we let them get in the way of loving our spouse more than ourselves.
For example, my husband has always felt led to be an active member of the church. Unfortunately, after our son was born and I became pregnant with our daughter Keziah, I did not feel it was a good season to volunteer. It was rough, and we didn’t always see eye to eye, but we did come to agree that with a baby and a new baby on the way, maybe it wasn’t the best time.
Another example: I finally finished my BA and could seek employment in the field I had chosen. However, I had a baby and was pregnant. The cost of daycare alone was enough reason to not start working. I thought, ok God, I’ll wait. Yet, here I am pregnant again. One day while washing dishes it dawned on me. The career was not my calling at this time. It may never be. Right now, my calling is to love my husband and stand beside him as we raise our children in the best way we can based on the examples Jesus has shown.
He chose us to parent all these children, I don’t know why, but I know he did. There must be a reason why this season I am to be a fulltime mother. My husband has to work extra hours every week and he also helps around the house. He does it because he says he loves us and feels it is his calling to love his family first. That is his cross but he does it joyfully. I am not as good at joyfully cleaning. Especially as I am in the first trimester still. Cleaning has been a bitter thing for me. I have baggage left over from my step-dad regarding dishes and chores that carries over to today. I am a work in progress, but nothing is impossible with God.
The fact is, to love like Christ, is to sacrifice your whole self for others. This is not a popular message in this culture. Everything says to do what makes you happy. To make time for yourself. Which in itself isn’t bad, unless it’s at the expense of your spouse and family. I have studied history enough to know that, is a marketing ploy. Straight from the devil. He first marketed this idea to Eve when he implied her life would be complete and better if she only did the one thing God said not to. The grass would be greener if you only cross over to the other side. The dangling fruit looks good and pleasing to the eye because it was created by God, not necessarily because it is meant for you at this time. We have found it is important to pray individually but also as a couple before making decisions in life, no matter how small, and especially if they seem like the obvious choice.
This is the hardest part of parenting, a unified marriage. Being so unified your children cannot exploit your cracks. We struggle continuously as this is a moving target. However, I don’t feel bad when my daughter is about to ask something but stops and says, “You’ll say no, cause John will say no”. That is not a bad thing, that is an indication that she understands that my husband and I are on the same page. We often are not, but apparently, we get it right sometimes.
As I write this, I continue to spend time considering how I have been selfish and unwilling to sacrifice my own desires. Ultimately, to pick up my cross daily means daily crucifying my own self-desires so that my marriage and family can grow more like Christ, and less like the world.
WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU:
What are some moments in your marriage where you were unified? How did those moments build trust in each other and with your children? How was this blog helpful and what are some practical tools that you will utilize moving forward?
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