Your husband IS your family
I'm so sick of hearing women say they can't date their husband, or go on couples activities because of spending time with the kids in "family time." Not that there is anything wrong with family time because we all need it and it's very valuable. But we also need "couple time". I just want to shout, YOUR HUSBAND IS YOUR FAMILY!!!
I don't just suspect, I know for a fact some women do not realize that their husband IS the first and foremost definition of family. What do you do as a pastor when you see so many of your flock following this cult-like behavior among the young couples of our day that once you have kids they come first? I know, it's exalted even from some of the pulpits in our nation, "mothering is your first priority..." and "mothering is the highest calling..." NO IT'S NOT. This is a completely man made (or should I say woman made) doctrine! It sounds good, but it's not scriptural. The fact that it sounds scriptural is part of the problem - there are those who even preach this and fashion it in such a way as to make it sound like it is the Godly way to live.
The call to be a wife, a helpmate was proclaimed in scripture before the call to be a mother ever was. Genesis 2:18 says, "The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." We are called to be a partner before we are called to be a mother, plain and simple. So why don't so many women "get it"? I love the family too but the fact of the matter is the "family" starts with my husband and I! The kids didn't create us, we created them.
The tail is definitely wagging the dog in many of our homes. Many women today are serving their children and training their husbands instead of training their children and serving their husbands! Unfortunately this is epidemic in the church. The sad thing, these women actually believe they are being faithful to God to live this way. They think they are doing God's will, but they are duped by this lie that has come across the microphone during many of our churches Mother's Day services. Your children are incredibly important, they are a high calling. But they cannot and should not be your #1 priority. A woman's top priorities are her personal relationship with God and then her relationship with her husband if she has one. Third place goes to the children. Please don't take my word for it - read the Bible.
Winston Churchill once said, "Where does the family start? It starts with a young man falling in love with a girl - no superior alternative has yet been found." This is how it works - man and woman join together and create children and together they take charge of them and the home. Today we have so many child centered homes, and this is why we see so many homes falling apart not just in the world but in the church.
I talked to a Christian woman recently at an event where I was preaching whose marriage is on the rocks. I asked, "what is your husband unhappy about the most?" She told me that he complains about sex the most. I said, "oh, the lack of it?" she said, "it's not so much a lack, but that we don't do that we used to." I said, "why don't you do the things you used to do?" She said, "I'm a mother now, I just don't think it's appropriate. Things are different now. I think we need to settle down and be more mature now that we have kids." WHAT?! The last time I checked, a boring sex life had nothing to do with maturity. If that's what we're supposed to do, then I'll settle for being immature the rest of my life. Your life is not over when you become a mother contrary to what some say. I wish this was isolated but I hear this a lot.
Many young mothers think that there is something about motherhood that requires one to simmer down the side of themselves that was once adventurous, flirty, affectionate, sensual, and yes - sometimes flat out wild - with your husband. Truth be told, some wives use meeting their children's needs as an excuse because they didn't like cultivating a greater level of intimacy anyway. Then the same women completely fall apart emotionally if their husband looks at porn or another woman...or worse -- if he gets into other relationships. My thought is, "weren't you expecting it?" When you put the kids first and lose that side of yourself it's a recipe for complete disaster. Please expect your husband to do the worst (or at least fantasize about it)!
A Christian counselor told me that my hunch is correct that some women aren't really interested in a man, or in having a passionate, ever growing relationship. There are some women who get married solely in order to have children. Generally, Christian women don't run out to have kids out of wedlock on purpose. They want to do things right, so marriage is in order. But the problem is, some are not interested in cultivating a marriage before the children. The marriage is just the ticket to get them there. One Christian counselor told me (and I quote) "Some of these women use their husband as a stud - literally - a sperm donor to give them the "Christian family' they always wanted but the man is really not their focus - he is just the means to an end."
I have ministered to a few young women who want to get married for companionship reasons (sort of to have a "best friend/buddy" relationship) but are squeamish when it comes to intimacy. They don't even want to think about it and they find the thought "icky." I have to be honest that when I meet young women like this, I am often MORE concerned than ones I minister to who are struggling with lust! (Why? Because quite honestly I think the lust problem is much more normal than the ick problem.) I recently had a young woman ask me, "Do I have to do this when I get married?" Yes, there are a few young ladies who feel that way, surprisingly even in this day and age. My advice? Please don't get married. Spare some man the tragedy of being married to you and needing to take a lot of cold showers. You'd be better off to stay single and adopt a child (and there are plenty of needy ones right here in America) and put your whole focus on them rather than involving a man you really don't want to give your attention to.
The bottom line is the way God ordained it, family starts with you and your husband. So dating is a must! No matter what. At all stages of your marriage. Don't make excuses. There is no such thing as "seasons" when it comes to this, at least scripturally. I have had women tell me, "this isn't really my season to spend time with my husband and go on dates and things like that because right now my focus is the kids." That sounds nice. But show it to me in scripture where God says there's a season your husband is on the back burner.
Another thing... if you are waiting for the Super Nanny to be there to watch the kids, it probably won't happen. For many women Super Nanny would not be good enough. The truth is, no sitter will be you or do things just like you do. I talked to one desperate man in the church one time who said, "my wife says there is no one qualified to leave our children with, so we can't date or go away together. I miss being with her so much." I felt so sad for this man because he loves his wife so much and wants to wine and dine her and romance her and treat her like a queen, but she is not interested if that means leaving her children for even a few hours or one overnight stay. Ladies, we have to give up the idea that somebody will be as good as us as a mother with our children because nobody is like Momma! If you're like me, you do things differently even than the kids grandparents do! That's normal. (Grandparents are there to spoil kids and so they let them do things like drink soda and eat donuts and ride the little rides at Wal-mart five times in one afternoon. So what, it's not going to damage them for life. )So give up on finding the "perfect sitter" because no one compares to you. Getting child care for a date at least once a month is essential to a healthy marriage. Then in between times - take some time for each other every day at home.
If your kids are sucking the life out of you 24/7 it's because you're letting them. Larry and I have time together every day. We tell the kids, "this is our alone time. Don't knock on this door unless you are bleeding from the head." My kids are 10, 16 and 18. I know they are quite a bit older now but we have done this since they were just little. When they were just toddlers, Larry and I would take at least 15-20 minutes alone a day. Then we increased the time as they got older. And surprise, they are still alive and well. They didn't die because we insisted on having time together. This isn't selfish, it's God plan.
I started doing this from the time Dustin was born. When he was a newborn, I was basically up all hours of the nights with him because he woke up screaming to be fed every 2 and 1/2 to 3 hours. This is the way it is for most Moms, I think. At least with my three children, I went through this. Despite the fatigue, I especially loved the newborn stage. It is such a special time, bonding with your child, nursing them and caring for them. However after two weeks of doing this round the clock and not seeing my husband at all, I had a talk with Larry. I said, "I've pumped a bottle. We're getting a sitter and you're taking me out!" He seemed a bit surprised by this revelation but I said, "Larry, for two weeks my entire existence 24/7 has been as the "dairy queen." It's time for a change. I'm not just this child's mother, I'm your lover. And I'm not giving that role up...so let's get a sitter and go out."
We went on our date that day! He had a sitter in a New York minute! He was so happy about this! I think he was afraid to ask me (like many men would be afraid to ask their wives) thinking it's too soon...the baby was just born, she's not going to want to go out, she's not going to be interested in romance, etc. But -- this made him so excited that our relationship was still going to grow, we were going to stay close, and that I did not see him as #2 now and Dustin as #1. Rather, Larry and I continued to nurture our relationship and together, we parented and led Dustin -- not the other way around. By the way, he's an extraordinary kid if I do say so myself! If you wanna see why I think that, go check out his Myspace page.
Dustin has a rather enchanted view of marriage, I think. Sure he's seen Larry and I disagree, and he knows we're far from perfect. But he has grown up seeing his parents in love. And it is something he strongly desires for himself. (No, not just the affection of a girl, or sex - but he truly desires companionship and a girl that he can really get into serious conversations with and share with on the level his Dad and I do...and mainly someone who loves the Lord.) Larry and I aren't perfect but this is one thing we've modeled well for the kids, I think. None of that would have been possible if I had my babies and started putting them first and left time for Larry when I got around to it. If you aren't intentional, the truth is, you'll never get around to it. A whole lot of husbands today are just living on the back burner, waiting for their wives to remember they are there.
When will they realize that their husband IS their family? The truth is, even if a woman is not able to have children...if they are infertile and spend their entire lives childless, the fact is, A HUSBAND AND WIFE CONSTITUTE A FAMILY. Why is so hard for many young women these days to see this?
I guess when people don't want to see something, it's easy not to.
I love my children. And I'll never forget the person who made it possible for me to have them. Yes, ultimately God is responsible...but the way He set it up, I got these three gems through my relationship with Larry. And I'll never forget that, or put him aside.