Eat fewer carbs, exercise three times a week, spend less time on Facebook . . . New Year’s has come and gone and so have a lot of our resolutions. But maybe that’s because our New Year’s resolutions tend to have one thing in common – a focus on self. As Valentine’s Day approaches, maybe it is time to make some resolutions that will have a bigger impact.
Let’s resolve to put our marriages first.
Making your marriage a priority this year is the very best gift you can give your children. Here are 8 simple things you can do that will help put your marriage in its rightful place:
- Make eye contact. This one is so simple it’s silly. But think about it – when is the last time you actually made eye contact with your spouse? Our busy lives have made multi-tasking a necessity. Unfortunately, it has also taken some of the intentionality out of our conversations. So let’s put down the spoon (or hammer) and make some eye contact.
- 2. Don’t let the kids interrupt your conversations. Do your kids walk into the room and assume they have the floor? Teach them to stop, look and listen. Putting marriage first means that your kids are not. They may resist, but deep down, it’s what they want and need.
- Send kids to bed on time. As kids get older, couple time in the evening can get squeezed out. Consider adding ½ hour of quiet time before your kids’ bedtime. They can read, listen to quiet music or an audio book. Use this time to re-connect with your spouse every night.
- Give your spouse compliments in front of your children. These are not superficial compliments based on transient things like looks or achievements, but are based on qualities and attributes. You can say things like, “You are such a hard worker. You give everything you do 100%. I really appreciate that about you.”
- “Good gossip” about your spouse. Talk to your children when your spouse is not around in a positive light. You can say things like, “Daddy is so much fun, don’t you think? We are so blessed to have a Daddy who loves to play and laugh with us” or “I love these cookies that Mommy made yesterday. She knows just what we like!”
- Fight fair in front of the children. There is nothing scarier for a child than to see two people he loves demonstrating great levels of anger at each other. This is not to say that you cannot disagree. Children need to see that two people can disagree and resolve issues in a way that respects the feelings and thoughts of both parties.
- Watch what you say. A hushed phone call or a quiet word with a friend in a corner may seem out of range of your children’s hearing, but be careful. Some children are oblivious, but some are very perceptive and these types of conversations will do nothing but increase the acuity of their emotional antennae. Use your judgment when you are seeking the support of a friend.
- Go to God together. And if you find yourself rushing to the comfort of a friend before the comfort of our forever Friend, take a moment to assess the situation and ask yourself some questions: Who, ultimately, has the power to heal all of my hurts? Who always listens and never sleeps or slumbers? Putting marriage first, means putting God first. Go to Him. Better yet – go to Him together.
Marriage is hard work. But if we put it on the bottom of our to-do list, the work will never get done. Let’s elevate it back to its rightful place and resolve to put our marriages first this year. Strong families start with strong marriages. And that strength comes from the Lord – “A cord of three strands is not easily broken.” Eccl 4:12