Obedience is its own reward

by Phyllis Sather on September 26, 2011

Husband Wife Relationship

 

Exodus 20:6 NIV “…but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.”

Other than our personal relationships with the Lord, the husband/wife relationship is the foundation that our homes and families are built on. We’ve had a lot of very good teaching in this area. We know many ways to work on our relationship, yet we are guilty of putting it on the back burner to see to “more important” things.

You might ask, “What could be more important than your relationship with your husband?” In my experience of 27 years of marriage I’ve found that unless we schedule time with our spouse it just doesn’t happen. There is always the Tyranny of the Urgent, as discussed in this article by the same name, written by Charles E. Hummel of Intervarsity Christian Fellowship in 1967. Even though it was written over 40 years ago you will find it very relevant today.

I know it is difficult to schedule time alone together, and sometimes scheduled time doesn’t seem very romantic, but if your days go by as quickly as ours do you will need to have a plan or years will go by and it just won’t happen.

Often times when I think of fitting in a date night to an already full week I felt like crying. Instead, I’ve been trying to be creative. I’ve discovered that I actually needed to get out of the house more often when the children were younger and, of course, we couldn’t afford a sitter. Now that they are all young adults who are still at home, I don’t feel the need to get out for adult conversation so much because I have it all day.

My husband works 12 hour days, so he often doesn’t feel like driving a half hour home to pick me up and then driving right back to town for dinner. Meeting in town would mean driving 2 vehicles home, which really isn’t a very satisfying way to end an evening together. Instead I’ve begun to make special dinners for just the two of us once a week. The kids eat earlier, together or individually, while Dan and I eat alone and talk about whatever we need or want to discuss. We kick back and make it a leisurely meal.

Since it’s much less expensive to do something special for two than it is for five, I’ve used these evenings together to splurge a bit on something special, perhaps just a little better cut of meat, or picking up BBQ ribs, which are my husband’s favorite. I actually bought some last week at the grocery store deli and they were great.

I do the planning for these evenings so Dan can just go about his busy day and not worry about it. I’m going to start doing it on different evenings so he will be surprised when he comes home to a special time for the two of us. It really isn’t that much more work than a family meal. Of course, I do need to put some thought into it to make it rather special, but taking time to think about him and his likes is really good for our marriage. It tends to make me drop my routine tiredness and look forward to our time together. The kids have been great to set the table for me – complete with candles, which they like to light with a blow torch. Yes, they are all adults – but these homeschooled kids will be creative, you know.

This doesn’t mean we will never go out for an evening together. In fact, last night I suggested we watch for the new Texas Roadhouse to open so we can have a date night there.

I know a weekly date night is nothing new to most of you, but years ago when we were in counseling it revolutionized our relationship, which was in deep trouble at that point. I was encouraged to keep a list of the frustrations and problems that I needed to talk with Dan about rather than meeting him at the door with a list of grievances. Dan committed to listening to me on our date night each week. We ended up calling it “fight night” for the first two years, but it did a few  things that really helped us weather that stormy time.

First, I knew there was a time each week that Dan was committed to listening to me.

Second, writing things down rather than discussing them in the heat of the moment, gave me time to process what had happened. As the weeks went on I discovered that some things that I felt so strongly about were no longer an issue. And some things had worked themselves out and I couldn’t even remember what I had been so upset about.

And last, but by no means least, it gave our marriage time to heal. Now we were only fighting one night a week, which left six nights to get to know each other and learn to enjoy being together again.

The second thing we’ve done is to renew the habit of having couch time. Most of you have probably heard some version of this. After dinner together as a family, Dan and I go sit on the couch together while the kids clean up the kitchen. This is usually only 10-15 minutes but it’s really a great way to reconnect at the end of our busy days. Sometimes we just sit and snuggle quietly and not much is said. Other times we discuss something or share something about our day.

When we first heard about this many years ago we understood that our young children needed to see us taking time for each other.  Now we’ve realized how vital it is for our young adults to see that we have a relationship that is important enough to us that we take time for it.

I enjoy knowing that there is a time, even if it is short, that he will be available to listen to me if there is something I need to talk about. If it needs more time than couch time, at least I can mention my need to talk and we can make an opportunity for it during the evening or as soon as possible. We both try hard not to make these gripe sessions. If one of us has had a very difficult day we might mention it just so the other knows it’s been difficult and if possible we can plan a more relaxing evening.

Now I know you might think we might need to take a weekend or even a week away to work on our relationship.  Yes, that would be good, but it wouldn’t replace the daily connections we make during date night and couch time. It’s the small daily things that keep us in touch with each other so that when we have an opportunity for extended time together already have a foundation to build on.

Dan and I work really well together. We are a good team, but it is far too easy to allow our relationship to slip into almost a business relationship where we each know what we are responsible for and can be counted on to do it. Just today I read an article titled, “Marriage vs. Homeschooling? It Shouldn’t Have to be a Tug-of-War” by Kimberly WilliamsIn it she talks about how some wives are putting homeschool before their husbands, thinking they will have time for their husbands later in life.

It isn’t an either or choice. It’s being a Godly wife AND mother, by the grace of God. And the order has always been our relationship with God first, our husband second, and children third.

I told you these were simple ideas. Nothing revolutionary, yet they make a huge difference when they happen day after day and week after week. Something vital happens when we consistently spend time with someone we love.

Please share what you have allowed to become more important to you than your relationship with your husband, and what you hope to do about it. Then ask the Lord for grace and ideas. Perhaps we can all learn a little from each other.

“The wonder of it all is that when we can’t see our way down or out, we can always renew our reliance on God and He will not only show us the way back, but He will also forgive us for going astray.” Thelma Wells

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Phyllis

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