Saturday, August 9, 2008

On nurturing your marriage

Nicole has a great post up about making time for your marriage. It's so easy to neglect the primary relationship, your marriage, amidst all the hustle and bustle of raising kids. Our priorities should be God, marriage, and parenthood - in that order.

So, I would definitely recommend getting time alone, just as Nicole writes. Our kids have a relatively early bed time, judging by what we hear from other parents. But it's important for us to have alone time every day. When we first became parents, the boys were used to a 9:00 bed time. By the time we got them to bed, we were just exhausted and crashed without much time to talk to each other. And it began to take a toll. We crept it up 10 minutes at a time until we landed on 7:00. And now we have three full hours to talk about the kids, talk about our own work, and enjoy each others' company. Couple time doesn't have to be out of the house.

So, I think it's important, as Nicole says, for kids to know that their parents' marriage is important. Let them see you leaving, dressed up a little. They know you're off to be together, and they'll learn that Mommy and Daddy need a solid relationship so that they can be good parents. But... as often as you leave them with a sitter, I think you should also bring them along. Here's why.

Sometimes we have no choice - we need a change of scenery, but there's no sitter. And kids can get feeling just as cooped up as adults do. And, I often like to tell our boys that we're taking Mommy on a date. I have them think of a restaurant that she would enjoy (they don't always pick McDonald's). I have them hold doors for her (to the best of their ability). They need to learn chivalry at a young age.

But the primary reason has to do with the real meaning of marriage. We have some friends (the ones currently gestating our godchild) whose answering machine message began "This is the F___ family, sorry we missed your call..." They had the word family on their voicemail, and I believe their email address too. And this was all well before they ever had children. Many would think, "You're not a family yet, you're just a couple." But that's not the way they saw it! And, I would say that's not the way the Church sees it.

While marriage and parenthood are obviously separate things, they are also, in a way, both aspects of one single vocation called "family". Our family started when we were married. Our nuptual love begat children (not directly, in our case, as we were infertile - but our love gave us the desire to be parents, and drove us to make a home for our sons eventually). So you see, your wedding anniversary is not only a celebration of marriage and romance, it's a celebration of family.

We could not find a sitter on the weekend of our anniversary these last two years, so we took the kids with us. We went out to eat with the kids, and went to see a fun movie or some other event. We made sure the kids knew what we were celebrating and why it's important.

Now, of course, we found a night to be without them. Eventually, we got a sitter so that we could go out alone. And on the night of our anniversary at home, the boys skipped their nap and went to bed early while we indulged in some really good steaks and wine and dessert.

But, again, I think it's important for kids to be included in the occasional "romantic" evening.

1 comment:

nicole said...

Great point about taking them with you. We celebrated our anniversary with the kids with us too this year. I could have found a sitter, but we were just going out to eat and to a UNT b-ball game, which they enjoy. And like you said, sometimes we all need to get out of the house.