A few Sunday mornings ago, while standing in the foyer at church chatting with my husband, I felt a hand on my shoulder and turned around. Standing there was my favorite Mr.”R”, whom I cherish immensely. “R” is one of those guys that just makes you smile with a look. He is funny, goofy, and absolutely encouraging. I find myself seeking him out at church just to get a hug and a good word.
As he put a hand on both Peter and my shoulders, he began to joke that we make it very obvious that we like one another. We left our conversation smiling over the fact that this sweet guy, though probably just meaning to get a laugh, encouraged us so much.
You see, before he came up to us, we were engaged in some serious conversation. You know the kind that really should be saved for a private room and no limit with time. But since things have been a little crazy lately, (a complete understatement), we take moments in the hall at church to regroup and talk about the latest things going on that need immediate attention.
We have made so many mistakes in our marriage. I have said completely unkind words in a heated moment. He has been selfish with his time and ignored me. But though we make these mistakes, we have kept one idea at the center of our home:
Our marriage was first and will always be first.
Perhaps not a very popular view and I am sure I will get some backlash from others because I do not say our kids come first, but hear me out first.
If you have ever been on a plane, you know very well that right before take off, they give you a whole spiel on safety protocol for emergencies. One that always sticks out in the mind is that of oxygen masks. If the oxygen masks release, adults need to put their masks on first and then help the child that may be seated next to them.
It seems more obvious in this case to care for the adults first so that they have the strength and ability… basically they are not passed out!… to help the little ones near them.
However, when one cares for their marriage first, putting their children second, often this is frowned upon, shaking finger in face.
Like the plane, if Peter and I do not take care of our needs first, there is no way on earth we could ever care for our kids. This means individually and together.
Christ, the center of it all, leads the way as we connect together.
What does that look like?
*Putting the kids to bed early so we can have a few minutes together to talk, sit, listen, and even smooch, before we both pass out.
*Not allowing the kids to interrupt and often, even listen to our conversations.
*Flirting on a daily basis via text, looks across the room, and inside jokes.
*Making time for physical connection on a very consistent basis.
*Porch meetings. (For us, we often go out to the porch to talk discipline, frustrations, or even just enjoy a moment of silence.)
*Tag teaming the chaos. Peter will often let me tap out if I am getting worn down with parenting situations that have arose only recently with fostering. And the same goes the other way. If I can see he needs to retreat to the bedroom after a long day for a half hour of rejuvenation (he is a true introvert) then I grant that because I am taking care of US.
*We ask forgiveness as soon as possible. (This one is me way more than him because as I tell him often, he is just better at being a human than I am.)
*Lastly, but most importantly, we reevaluate and are always willing to be flexible and change the things that need tweaking.
Not by any means are we a perfect marriage, but I am so thankful that on an overall basis, Peter gives me a little heaven on earth on the regular as I get to do this life with him. He makes it so much easier, so much more fun, and a whole lot more interesting.