Let’s be that couple who has the type of marriage we pray our children find.

Let’s be that couple who has the type of marriage that we pray our children find.

This quote is part of my goal poster. I do a lot of goal setting on a regular basis.  Being a part of sports and running a business has taught me a lot about consistently reflecting on where you are and where you want to be.  A lot of the times, I set goals based on major influencers and their strategies.  This quote, however, is something that manifested in a conversation that my husband and I had after being involved in a situation with another couple a while back. I honestly can’t remember who the couple was or even what the conversation pertained to, but the gist of it was that they had some juicy drama and gossip they wanted us to participate in, which we casually side stepped and avoided.  When we had a minute to ourselves later that night, one of us (I might even give credit to Luke, here) said, “Let’s be that couple who stays out of gossip and drama.”  It was such an inspiring concept to me, that I wrote it down, later typed it up, and eventually hung it on one of my goal posters. Actually a couple different posters as you can see by several holes on the top of the page.  I love(d) the idea of what we could project as a couple and felt like there was so much that we could set out intentionally to do together. I thought it would be a list. I had every intention to make it a list.  And it might eventually. For whatever reason, only one item was added (not even the original thought, if you noticed), and right now it has one focus. Marriage.

Let’s be that couple who has the type of marriage that we pray our children find.

I kinda sorta remembered that thought, the thought that actually made the “list,” one day after I had gone in a full on rage against my better half in the presence of our kids.  I clearly remember thinking that my kids are absorbing every single interaction we have together.  Like sponges.  And creating their norm for what a marriage looks like. I can’t even remember what we were fighting about that day. It usually isn’t about the details of the fight. It’s about sleep deprivation or hormones or stress or it’s the attempt to put out a s@%t show dumpster fire at the circus while “your monkeys” are hosing gasoline down in it… and then it’s the one look or comment or lack of acknowledgement in that particular moment. And that door swings both ways. Equally guilty. I might even partake in gasoline dumping some days, depending on my levels of stress, sleep, hormones or hanger.  Sometimes, sh%t just gets real. And real fast.  On that day, I said some really unkind things and felt bad about it.  I apologized. He did, too.  A few days later, this thought hit me in my quiet time. 

Let’s be that couple who has the type of marriage that we pray our children find.

It was one of the most convicting self reflections I have ever had.  

To be honest, I feel like our marriage is pretty freaking good, but like anything else, I can end up going down a slippery slope of bad habits. Sometimes, I swear I find myself on a Crisco slathered slip ‘n slide down the steep side of a cliff and I don’t even know how I got there in the first place.  But I do. It’s the day in and day out habits and interactions that we feed daily. For the love of all that’s holy, why do I sometimes feed that ugly, angry monster way too much?? I know that dude needs portion control, and yet I still do it.

So, it was after that little love spat, while three kids sat wide-eyed at us (or lets be real, they probably glanced up a few times from their screens and told us to stop fighting so that we didn’t bug them), I felt so sad. Sad that I treated my husband that way and found myself saying things that were just plain mean. That’s the extreme Reader’s Digest version (and general audience approved), which led to the fuse hitting the wick with the thought, “that’s not how I would want my kids to ‘fight’ in their marriage.”  And then the truth bomb exploded in my face. We are modeling marriage for kids who are starting to form ideas of healthy relationships, but I had started to take for granted that we have a really good marriage. And we had not been intentionally living in that thought.

Let’s be that couple who has the type of marriage that we pray our children find.

Sure, we do date nights regularly, if at all possible.  We valued that really early on in marriage when we had two kids under two and both worked ridiculous hours.  So, we made it a priority to do a date night at least once a month if not more.  If I haven’t noticed that too much time passes between scheduling them, I usually get an internal signal that it’s time for one when I feel like hiring a hit man on my man. When there’s a general cloud of deep annoyance, we force in a date night even if our schedules look impossible.  I make a quick phone call to the grandparents and beg for some babysitting. Even if the drive out to the date sucks because we are still annoyed with each other, the night usually ends better when can talk alone, even if it means we just drive around in the car alone.

Sometimes, we just need to be alone.

We have been fortunate enough to travel together at least once a year—alone, without the kids—for the last 3 or 4 years. Yesterday, I realized that we haven’t had a date night in a lonnnnng time.  While I was sitting on the couch next to Luke, trying to have a conversation while watching a show on TV, I had a Hot Wheels track constructed on top of me through the back side of the couch past the ottoman while cars were launched in front of my face. A Nerf gun was pointed at me and I was threatened to play “lock and load” nerf wars before I got blasted on the spot.  I was asked to change the channel a zillion times to a kid show that is driving me bat poop crazy. And, that was just the 4-year-old in a matter of a 20 minute span. By the time the other two entered the mix, I looked and Luke and said “Thank you Jesus, we booked a trip for us ALONE next week.”

Again, sometimes, we just need to be alone.

Let’s be that couple who has the type of marriage that we pray our children find.

I am so grateful and feel blessed beyond measure to have date nights and trips that are made possible by grandparents who take in and love on our babies while we go, even at a moment’s notice.  We tell our kids how important it is for these dates and get-a-ways so that mommy and daddy can remember what it was like to be love birds before they were here. And they get the opportunity to be loved on by grandparents. It’s never a fight or disappointment for them. And they get to see that our alone time is a priority.  It’s a double dose of blessing.

Sounds cute and romantic to have dates and travel.  And oh boy do I love every minute of them.  And yes, they help our marriage a ton.  And my kids see a great example of how to carve out alone time for marriage. But let’s get real. Let’s say two dates a month on average—depending on our season of life—and one 5 day trip a year.  That’s 29 days, at best.  Again, I ain’t complaining because I feel completely grateful for all of that time.  

But, the biggest influence our marriage has on our kids is at home, when it’s not an Insta-story worthy moment, when dinner needs to be done and work is going late and there are 12 practices and activities overlapping.  This is when we have to choose intentionally how to communicate, exercise patience, choose kindness, and all the things that will either keep the ship running full steam ahead or sink it into Davy Jone’s Locker. Those are the challenging times. It’s not easy and we fall short of great habits to demonstrate to our kids all.of.the.time.

However, as we have started intentionally looking at our marriage as a witness to God working on our hearts and being an intentional example of love in our marriage for our kids in the day-to-day, seemingly trivial experiences, we are beginning to experience the fruits of it more and more in our home.

Love is patient and love is kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Loves does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

God, that’s a beautiful verse.  Like brings me to tears beautiful. And then it can make me weak from laughter, too. Luke and I have an inside joke of this verse from our marriage prep classes.  I love this verse so much for both of those reasons. Love is raw. It can elicit both extreme joy and extreme pain as a result of it. And I am forever grateful for the silly mistake during marriage prep that brings a side glance to each other and interior chuckle every time Luke and I see or hear this verse.  Thank God for the gift of laughter in good times and in bad.

We have this verse up in our house to serve as a reminder of our past, present, and future. I should probably pause in front of it and soak it in more often, but I am trying to live it in my heart.

Let’s be that couple who has the type of marriage that we pray our children find.

There will still be dumpster fires, stressful days and nights, crises, lack of sleep, overlapping schedules, hanger, hormones, and so much more that will try to send our love boat off course and send me down the Crisco slathered Slip ‘N Slide, but intentionally working on the day to day interactions in the seemingly trivial moments are huge. It feels both fun and challenging, but oh so rewarding.  I recently heard a quote about habits that I love. “Habits are not built for when things are going well; habits are built for when things are going wrong.”  So when things hit the fan, what will my default be? What habits and day-to-day communication will be my go-to? What am I doing before the dumpster fire starts? What will I do when it’s roaring? Maybe I put it out next time before it blazes out of control?….or at the very least, not crank up the gasoline hose to full throttle. Improvement. We are simply looking for daily improvements in these habits. Every day. Every  “little” moment with 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 tattooed on our heart. Or at least we are trying.

Oh, and the “why” behind it. A strong enough why can drive just about anything.  I didn’t do anything to deserve him, but I got a pretty amazing man who loves being a dad and who will do just about anything to make sure he raises healthy, happy kids and prepares them to be great humans in the process. We want so much to set them up for success.  I pray we can be that couple who has the type of marriage we pray our children find.  And because you always want better for your kids, most days, I pray they find better than what we are measuring up to. But it’s getting there. I mean who would have guessed that when we started to focus on setting a good example of marriage for our kids, we actually would enjoy a better marriage. Who would have guessed that?

Let’s be that couple who has the type of marriage that we pray our children find.

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