Once you have kids, romantic sex becomes frantic sex—meaning you try to have sex quickly while the kids are asleep, occupied or at grandma’s house. I heard someone say this recently and could not stop laughing. There is so much about parenthood people do not share with you when you are preparing to have a child. Most people only tell you about the good parts—the beautiful baby, the snuggling and the tiny clothes. There is so much more they leave out. SO. MUCH.
Parenthood is a marathon in many respects. My old pastor, Dr. Hunter, used to say that children drain you physically when they are young, emotionally as teenagers and spiritually as young adults. Parenting is EXHAUSTING…yet wonderful. Parenthood stretches us individually and as couples, placing unique pressures on our marriages that did not exist before we had children. How we handle these pressures as husbands and wives directly affects our marriages. When I married my husband, I had I Corinthians 13:7 inscribed on the inside of his wedding band. It states, “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” So much of marriage AND parenthood is “bearing and enduring” in love. When things go bad we long for God to rescue us, make things better or send light in the darkness. But, what if instead, we tried to patiently endure, as Christ, Paul, Abraham and so many others did and let God meet us IN the darkness and sustain us there, before we gaze upon the light.
Phillipians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” God will bring us through whatever he brings us to. Sometimes we just have to endure in hope. These past few weeks have been particularly stressful at my house due to multiple sicknesses and long hours for me at home alone with the kids while my hubby works overtime. During this season I have found three things that continue to sustain me when parenthood tries to pull at my sanity.
1) Pray for each other and with each other. Hold hands or hug each other before you go your separate ways for the day. Ask him what is ahead of him and pray exactly what you would want him to pray for you if you were facing the same challenges. Ask him to pray for you and then continue to pray for one another throughout the day.
2) Say what you need to say in the way you should say it and ask for what you need. I maintain that you can say just about anything IF you say it in the right way. Start your sentences with “I feel…” or “I really need help with this.” Keep a calm tone. Do not share your feelings if you are angry, frustrated or short-tempered. Wait until you have cooled off. Finally, make your needs known. There is no way your spouse can know your feelings or needs if you do not share them. Be specific about what you need.
3) As said before, “bear and endure.” Sometimes you both are going to come to the end of your ropes at the same time. Sometimes one of you will need more support than the other. Sometimes you will have sickness in your house for days on end. Sometimes you will cry alone in the bathroom while your kids are going crazy and pray for God to help you. Life is messy. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Endure in patient hope, knowing that God sees everything you are facing and will bring you through one way or another. Believe the promise of Psalm 34:17, “The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
How about you? What kind of things are you enduring right now? Are you simply asking God to bring you into the light, or are you letting him sustain you in the darkness? How do you and your spouse handle the pressure parenthood places on marriage?