Friday, February 4

What do we do.... to stay married

..or to honor God with our marriage - that's probably a better way to phrase things. How this is my heart - to honor God with every part of my being and every aspect of my life. It is not an idol, I don't worship my family, and it has nothing to do with legalism or setting the Proverbs 31 woman on a pillar before my eyes. It is born out of this love for Jesus in my heart.

I did some quick thinking today, as the subject of feminism and divorce came up with one of my sisters, and realized that five generations of our family include divorce. Oh my and yuck.
When I was told about the most recent breaking apart of a family, it was presented in a positive light, highlighting all the wonderful (!) things of the couple's divorce. It made me heartsick, but this is our culture's mindset: better to focus on the positives and ignore the drooling, fire breathing beast before us. I take divorce seriously. Broken homes and dysfunction are my heritage but it is not my destiny and a legacy I do not want to pass on to our children. I believe we should know our enemy as best as we can so he does not sneak up unawares. This is why I take the covenant of marriage seriously and why Sean and I honor our marriage.

When Sean and I married we didn't just make a promise to each other. For us, saying words in the front of a church was much more than that... it was making a promise before God and to God. I am not condemning or trying to judge those who have taken this route, indeed many of those I love deeply have found themselves here. I just really, really don't want to go that route in life.

All that said, I was asked how Sean and I make precious time for each other with a house full of boisterous children.

Most nights, except those when I need to run errands or Sean has a meeting, we spend time together after the kiddos have been tucked in. I'll usually try to have a special snack or dessert for us to share and we'll settle down together with a movie, knitting (me) or carving (him).

We have a very sweet babysitter and so every once in a while we get out together, just the two of us and little Addie. These are few and precious evenings.
Sean and I also enjoy working together. I love being able to help him on projects around the house, he and I both like to cook and bake, and in the warmer (oh how I miss thee) weather we will often take a walk around our property when the kids are in bed or get up early and sit on the big swing together with our tea or coffee.

We value the importance of intimacy in our marriage, not just physically, though that is a blessing, but in being open and honest and vulnerable with one another. This has been a big learning curve for me personally, as I've always been the type to keep a stiff upper lip and not let things affect me. Actually, as far as I've come down this road, Sean is still always asking me to talk with him and be open with him, so I have not yet arrived (and Sean's fabulous for keeping on my case, I know).

I think the best tip I have for having a healthy marriage is to respect and honor your spouse for who he is and the good you see in him and leave any changing to God. I learned a long time ago to not focus my prayers on "God change my spouse because he's ___________" sort of prayers. I do pray for God to bless Sean and lead and guide him but when we are having times of conflict, I'll ask God to change my heart and work in me. More often than not, the discontented heart is the heart that needs to be worked on. We are human. We hurt each other and can be thoughtless and careless. But we've learned to talk out uncomfortable things and to ask and give forgiveness.

How do you make time as a couple in your marriage, or what have you seen modeled by couples with strong marriages?


Jessica said...

Fabulous! Our situation is very similar to yours in many ways. In the fact that both my husband and I have divorced family members,and that we have 6 children with the newest being 4mos! We have a early bedtime for the kiddos and spend most every evening together. Talking , reading, usual over hot cocoa. We also talk throughout the day to each other by email or phone. Keeping connected, sharing the events of the day. And yes, respect to a husband is like love and tenderness to a wife! Thanks for sharing your life!

Jane said...

This is something my husband and I are constantly working on. We have three small young children, he has a demanding work schedule and we are both very involved in a young church plant...all good things but it is hard to find extra time period, yet alone for each other! We try to do date nights as often as we can but another very small but significant thing is to sit with each on the couch in the evenings. Even if we are both doing separate acitivities, we try to sit with each other (as close as possible). It helps us feel connected. We know that each season of life is different and requires different avenues of connecting.

amy said...

i really love this, it is a very simple, beautiful look at a real, devoted marriage. i love how your time together is so simple and so precious... watching a movie, working together, sitting alone near each other, these are the things we value as well.

i actually recently wrote a post on how we make a marriage last...

Anonymous said...

From the beginning, we set strictly held-to bedtimes for the kiddos. It gives us a few evening hours just to sit with each other. It's been invaluable.

mashelly said...

I only know broken homes I have not had good marriage role models in my life ....watching and being part of a broken home has taught me what I don;t want..this is going to sounds insane but its the truth for me..the waltons where my role model that is what i wanted for my family.......hubby and i catch time with each other thru out the day time 10 minutes here or there(we garden together alot) ,most everything we do we do as an entire family, the children have a set bedtime so hubby and i get some time alone in the evenings.everything has a season thou it it won't be to many years from now and the children will be grown and we will have all the time in the world together

Nicci Lynn said... sweet and precious (and rare) it is to hold marriage in such high regard in our culture of fraying families! I LOVE it!

So much (all?) of the world's problems root back to the strength of the family. It is the only God created institution and one that is so devalued in today's age. It is where we learn our perspective of the world, where we learn discernment for what is Truth and what is just a hissing tongue of the serpent in our ear.

Myra said...

We have been married almost 20 yrs (this June) and feel despite financial and personal upheavals, we have a strong marriage - we are active in church, teach religion class to high schoolers together, he's self-employed at home and I stay home, only work on a contract basis. We have experienced infertility, adoption, miscarriages, live births and a handicapped child from a premature birth. We always felt it would bring us together or tear us apart and choose for it to keep us together. Many people do not want to work at it, IMO, in this instant gratification society. Thanks for your blog and your inspiration. Even though we are Catholic and I don't get the impression you are and you homeschool and I don't (we live in a rural town with excellent schools and a conservative attitude), I feel like we all still want the same things.

Marcia said...

wonderful thoughts in this month of Valentines day! We too (after 14 years of marriage and 5 kids) are still working on ways to keep marriage first. One thing that we have *finally* gotten into a habit of is praying together in the morning. I find this is another way of "divorce proofing" our marriage.

Becky said...

Hannah, that is so beautiful. I too come from a family with more divorces than I care to mention. I have seen the pain that it causes everyone involved especially children. I married at the age of 17 (one month away from being 18) & today I can say that I am still in love with my husbad of 25 years. The enemy almost took our marriage way back in the early years, but by the grace of God, we reunited & vowed never to have an exit sign in our marriage again. Divorce was not going to be an option for us. We understand that we have to "make" time for each other because it just won't happen. We try to go out & have breakfast about once or twice a month just the two of us. We also go see a movie without kids as well. Sometimes with another couple from our church. We enjoy taking drives together to run short errands & one of our favorite things to do is get a cup of coffee while we drive to our short destination. Even though it's just drinking a cup of coffee in his pickup truck, we enjoy it. BTW, we have two sets of children one set is 20 & 17 the other is 4 & 7 (both are ours together..haha we thought we were done, but God had other plans) the older ones watch our younger ones so that we can spend time together. That is truly a blessing for us.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your openness and posting this. :) Your story is encouraging.

Rebecca said...

We talk and talk and talk. It's not the SERIOUS topics, necessarily, that keep our intimacy alive. It's hearing each other's ruminations on the passing scene; the details of our days.

2 years after we were married my husband started a surgical residency, we moved far away from family and we had a new baby. Those were tough times. The fact that we never allowed divorce to be an option was the biggest gift of grace to our marriage.

That's what we're trying to teach our children: choose someone who follows Jesus and then never give up.

Me said...

Jessica, wow! Our families are similar! Sean and I also use email and phone calls during the day to keep in touch - so nice!

Jane, you're so right, different seasons of life call for different methods of connecting.

Amy, thanks for the link!

Hannah, us too. That advice came by way of my grandparents before we ever had kids. 7:30 is their bedtime.

Farmgirl, I love the Waltons too. I am always watching couples with good marriages to see what they do and how they interact.

NicciLynne, I always say "as goes the family, so goes the church, and as goes the church so goes the nation".

Myra, some of our most difficult times together as a couple have ended up strengthening us after we endured the storm together. No, we aren't Catholic, but I'm sure we both love the Lord nd our families. :)

Marci, praying together is great. We pray together every evening before going to sleep.

becky, I loved everything you shared.

You're welcome, Angela.

Rebwey, I love what you shared. :)

Anonymous said...

My husband don't do "date" nights, but we ALWAYS cherish our friendship. Everyday, we take as many moments together as we can: coffee after breakfast, and also reserving the time after kids go to bed(which is pretty early for this purpose). We try to remember to be kind to each other and put each other first always, which I think makes a huge difference!

Amanda said...

Well said. A good healthy marriage is few and far between and this is one thing I love about reading your blog...I am 32 and my husband and I have been married for almost 13 years. We were young and early on there were times when I thought we wouldnt make it. I'm thankful we both made the choice to fall into the arms of Christ to save our marriage. I thank him each day for the blessing of it.

Anna said...

Thank you for this reminder! And thank you for restoring in my heart a love for home and family on a regular basis. There are few women in my life that are apt to teach me in the way God describes in Titus 2. Thank you for filling that need in my life!

My own story: My husband and I have been blest to come from families where marriage is considered as a lifelong covenant. Our parents are none of them perfect, but they have remained loyal and in love. This has been an overwhelmingly powerful foundation for us, and one we hope to pass on to children of our own someday. I know firsthand the volumes committed love speaks to children, the security that comes from knowing that Dad and Mom will always love each other and me, and the assurance that I am now able to feel within my own marriage. So, for those of you setting these examples to young souls, I say "Labor on!" Your work is not in vain for either them, or yourselves.

Mama Mandy said...

I really enjoyed reading this post & am much the same, except I'm not a very cook cook. ;0) My husband is though, so I'm learning from him! I cherish our marriage & am so thankful to God for my best friend and our children!

Anonymous said...

This is so encouraging! My husband and I are having such a hard time right now. I come from such a dysfunctional background. My own life has been full of mistakes and sins that I pray do not carry over to my children. What do you do if you don't have a wonderful husband like you do? What do you do if your husband doesn't care about things of the Lord? :(