One of the biggest hurdles that most married mothers face today is balancing marriage and motherhood. Many married moms often feel like they can’t be both a good wife and a good mom at the same time. With so little time in the day, how are we supposed to strike this magic balance? What are we supposed to prioritize first–marriage or motherhood?
A friend of mine recently shared with me that her marriage has been rocky for years. They had multiple children in a short amount of time, and they both decided to “focus on the kids” during this childrearing season. At first, they didn’t seem to notice a change in their marriage because life was so busy changing diapers, running kids to and from school, and staying on top of things.
Early on, she decided to be a stay-at-home mom, and her husband threw himself into his work to provide for the family. She loved being at home, and he loved being at work. However, as the years carried on, they both began to fight about everything.
In her husband’s eyes, she didn’t keep the house as clean as he would like. From her perspective, he worked too many hours and didn’t make enough money for the family. They were constantly blaming each other for the lack of peace in their home. They even considered a separation. They felt like God wasn’t answering their prayers and they just couldn’t get along anymore.
I’m going to share the rest of her story later, but maybe you can relate to the predicament they found themselves in. It can be a challenge to make our marriage a priority without kids in the mix, and the minute we bring a precious baby home, it’s even harder. We suddenly have a little, helpless human being who needs our attention, love, guidance, and most of all, our time. For mothers, this is a beautiful, yet exhausting, time of bonding with the baby, midnight feedings, and figuring out what being a mother is all about. We start discovering and developing our inherent mommy instincts, and we have a strong desire to meet our child’s needs. This is a good thing!
Our kids are always on our minds, and they should be. We’re reading parenting books, looking at the best schools and colleges, and making sure they are healthy and well-rounded individuals. We’re attending their activities and going to parent-teacher conferences. We’re talking with other moms about our kiddos to make sure we are on the right track and in the know.
These are all good things. However, we must resist the urge to allow our mommy role to take center stage. We often have the tendency to tell ourselves that this is how is should be and that our husband is a grown man who should simply understand this. We tell ourselves that we’ll work on our marriage when the kids are grown and that they need our full attention right now while they are in our home. We want to give them the best of everything. We want them to have experiences and opportunities that we never had, right? So, along with our husband, we make our kids our primary focus and our marriage gets placed on the back burner. We stop engaging our spouse. We stop spending time alone together, and eventually, we stop talking about anything other than the business of life, instead of what’s weighing on our hearts.
Sadly, this dynamic is all too common in our culture, and marriages and families are suffering greatly because of it. Our marriage must be prioritized, fostered, and fed while we are raising our kids, and this takes time and intentionality. Both the husband and wife must give just as much, if not more, time and effort to strengthen the marriage, as they do in raising their children. When a couple puts this into practice, their marriage and family will thrive!
I realize that this point of view might step on some toes, but this isn’t just my opinion; it’s biblical (Deuteronomy 6:5 & Ephesians 5:22-25). As Christians, we must prioritize our relationship with God first, our spouse second, our children third, and then everyone and everything else after that. This can be difficult—especially if we have been prioritizing things differently for a long time—but we can do this!
Married mamas, if we don’t make time with our husband a priority, then our kids, and everything else on the agenda, will automatically take that time. Husbands need to make time with their wife a priority as well. It’s takes both spouses being intentional about this. As I shared earlier, this is exactly what my friend and her husband realized when they were at a tough crossroad in their marriage. They both knew that they couldn’t continue doing what they were doing because it was tearing their marriage apart. So, they started reading Christian marriage books, listening to marriage podcasts, and reading articles on how to have a better marriage. They made attending church a priority and even joined a small group centered around cultivating a strong marriage and family. This eventually led to them each sharing their heart with one another. They each confessed how they personally got to this negative place in their marriage—no pointing fingers, just confession. They listened to each other without interrupting or trying to correct a statement. Then, they talked about how they wanted things to change in their family dynamic and what steps they needed to take to get there.
Even though things were tight financially, they budgeted for a bi-monthly date night. They even sat their kids down and explained that Mommy and Daddy hadn’t been spending enough time together, and they are going to be spending much more time alone together to improve their relationship. Day by day, little by little, things began to change. With tears in her eyes, my friend told me that she is more in love with her husband today than she has ever been.
My friend’s testimony brought tears to my eyes as well. God is so good! When we make Him the foundation of our relationship and start prioritizing our marriage before the kids, our kids will feel safe and secure and our marriage will flourish. However, getting there can sometimes be a challenge—just like it was for my friend. Our marriage and family are worth the time and effort!
It’s good for our children to see their parents striving so hard to spend time with each other. They are learning how a healthy marriage is supposed to work. If we never go on a date or put the kids to bed early to have some “mommy and daddy time,” then we are basically showing our children that they are the center of our universe and our marriage really isn’t that important. However, when they see us investing in our marriage relationship, our children will place a high value on marriage, too. This is one of the greatest gifts we can offer them as a parent.
For more on how to cultivate a strong marriage and family, be sure to listen to The Naked Marriage podcast. Also, check out our NEW YouTube Channel where we have all sorts of video teachings as well as some behind the scenes insights. Finally, we’d love to meet you in person at one of our XO Marriage Conferences. Be blessed!