I’ve been a wife for three years, a mother for two of those. I’ve never been as happy and content as I am now, and I’d like to believe I’m a good mom and helpmate. I hope I don’t come off sounding as cocky or proud when I say this, but I truly believe I’m doing what I can–to the best of my abilities–to be a loving, responsible and faithful wife and mother.
Is it easy? Not by a long shot. As a working mom who contributes to the household income, sometimes the lines between family, work and marriage can get easily blurred. This is especially true in my case since my husband and I both work from home and both care for our son. It’s been this way for the last year and a half since I stopped working as a teacher and began my stint as a freelance writer. And, in that time, I believe I’ve grown all the more as a wife and mom, thanks to all the tests and trials that came our family’s way.
Before I got married, my parents and several other married couples we looked up to all told me (and my then-fiance, too) one key truth: In marriage, you’ll never have it all together. It’s true; marriage is an avenue where two are as “iron sharpening iron.” Sure, there’s friction at times, and there may be some sloughing off of the things that keep the marriage dull and lifeless. Thankfully, the result of iron sharpening iron is always a primed tool or weapon, one that’s ready to take on new challenges each time it’s been refined little by little.
For me, this is what makes marriage work.
There are three things I learned from my own parents which I’ve tried to apply in my own marriage. Now, my folks have been married 33 years, so they know what they’re talking about. Having only been married a fraction of that time, I have a lot yet left to learn. But here’s how I’ve been applying these lessons in my life anyway, just so you can see my progress.
1. Prioritize the marriage.
One thing my mom told me soon after I’d had my baby was to get back into the groove of sex as soon as I’d recovered from the birth. Uh-huh. Thanks, mom! And this makes loads of sense to me. Why? Because when I became a mom, my spouse wasn’t suddenly just the father of your child; he is still my lover first and foremost. If I want to be the best mother I can be, I need to keep my marriage alive! That’s because when I validate and value my husband as my lover, companion and partner, he is empowered as a dad. This is key to a successful family dynamic.
And so, my husband and I make it a point to go on weekly dates. These times are sacred to us: We leave our son with the grandparents and for half a day (or a whole one!) just revel in each other. Times alone with one another keep our marriage fresh.
2. Re-ignite the passion from time to time.
They say the honeymoon phase lasts for about a year and half, whoever “they” are. I agree: It takes work to keep each other excited, doesn’t it? I admit that I’ve gotten used to the sight of my husband in boxers and an undershirt that I feel no attraction whatsoever to him, especially on days when my hormones aren’t exactly raging off the charts. And I think we also got used to not declaring our “I love you’s” every day, not kissing, not playfully horsing around as we most often did in the early days of our marriage.
One day (last year, as I recall!), I remember having had enough of this “blah” feeling, and asked my husband plainly, “Can you be more spontaneous with me, please?” It turned out that he’d been wanting to be more playful and affectionate this whole time, but wasn’t too sure if I’d respond to his subtle advances. It helped to talk things out, to understand where each of us was coming from.
3. Never leave room for anger, sadness and discontent.
This is something I wrote in a previous blog post, which I quote below:
“Nothing can snuff the passion out of marriage and motherhood faster than SAD-ness: S-tress, A-nger, D-iscontent. Stress from over-working prevents you from focusing on the essentials, like family-building, alone time with your spouse; anger from unresolved spats with your spouse or frustrations with the helper or a messy house makes you bitter; discontent bred from comparing your lifestyle with others you deem “better” or on “greener pastures” makes you ungrateful.
Tip: Counter the SAD cycle with simple joys. For example: I constantly purge our closets–every six months, in fact–because our rarely or hardly-used possessions can be of better use to others; this gives me joy. To counter anger, my husband and I make it a point to patch up a spat before the day ends. Little acts like this keep the vibes positive at home!” (From DaintyMom.com)
I’m a lifetime away from being the ideal wife and mom. But I can work at becoming the best wife I can be for my husband, who married me in the first place because I was his choice, the “apple of his eye,” as it says in Scripture. We do have more good times than bad, that’s for sure, and each time we go through one of those rocky paths, I know we emerge as better people for each other.