My husband and I are approaching our 17-year anniversary. I don't write a lot about my husband in this space, mainly because he's an intensely private person, and this blog is mostly about parenting, not marriage, but today, I want to talk about marriage. Why? Because our marriages affect our kids. How we treat each other, how we solve conflict, how we parent together are all affected by the health of our marriages.
Every marriage goes through great times and tough times. We have moments when we can't imagine being married to anyone else and moments when we just want to throw up our hands and walk away. There are weeks, months and years when our marriages are fulfilling and amazing, then there are times when our marriages are draining and conflict-filled.
We've been going through one of those draining and conflict-filled periods in the past few weeks. Somewhere, our communication got off track, and we couldn't manage to get it back together. Conversations that should have been easy became hard. Hard conversations became arguments.
When we're in one of those periods in our marriage, it's easy to blame the other person. They're not listening, they're not interested, they're being stubborn, but the truth is, the only behavior that we can change in our marriages is our own. Most of the time, there's plenty of blame to go around, and many times, I've found, I'm actually the problem, not my husband.
Yesterday morning, after another evening of not communicating well, God made it a point to show me that this time, I'm the problem. Sure, my husband has things he could work on, but the root of our issues this time is me. Somewhere along the line, my husband got pushed to the bottom of my priority list -- if he was even on it at all. When I had to make a choice between being a good wife or being a good parent, ministry leader, friend or volunteer, I've been nearly always choosing the thing that is not my husband.
God says in Genesis 2:24, "That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh." He doesn't tell us to become one with anyone else -- not our kids, not our job, not our ministry. If we are to work together, if everyone is going to pull in the same direction, then we have to put a priority on our marriages.
Healthy marriages don't just happen. They take a lot of work. No matter what we do as parents, if we're married, the single most important thing we can do for our kids after focusing them on God is to love our spouse. Our kids are learning how to interact with others, what to look for in a mate, and what a marriage looks like by watching us. When we allow conflict to fester, when we don't acknowledge when we are wrong, when we treat our spouses like they don't matter, we're teaching our children what a relationship looks like.
It's tough to do it all. It's hard to work, parent, be a wife, and be a ministry leader, among other things. It's difficult to carve out time for everything, but our marriages have to be at the top of our priority lists, right after God. They have to be there because everything else we do is ineffective if they're not.
One of my favorite resources for perspective on marriage is the blog Time-Warp Wife. She does a great job of focusing on the role of women in a biblical marriage. Plus she offers up lots and lots of great tips on ways to show your husband you love him and how to keep your marriage vibrant. If you need encouragement in your marriage, be sure to check it out.
This week, I'll be reorganizing my priorities to find some extra moments to spend with my husband, so that he knows that he's at the top of the priority list instead of at the bottom. And I hope in doing so that I'm teaching my kids that marriage is more important than work, ministry and even them. Because that's the way God designed it.