My husband is upset with me. We rarely talk anymore, except to discuss finances or other “necessary” things. He is a good father and a wonderful man. I’m trying to be a good mother and wife, but my husband says he feels neglected. I honestly can’t help it! I’m too tired at the end of the day for sex most days—and even though I try to explain how much energy it takes to parent our four children and keep the house in decent order, he doesn’t get it. I know we feel more like roommates than lovers these days. But I don’t know what to do about it. Maybe I’m wrong, but I really think my kids need my energy right now. After they are grown, my husband and I will have all the time we want together. My priority is our kids while they are little. How can I talk to my husband to help him understand this?”
You know, I get many letters like this each week. And I get it. Motherhood is demanding. It’s often 24/7, diapers, dishes and discipline. It’s enough to bring a woman to her breaking point. That’s part of the reason I’m so passionate about moms encouraging other moms. We need each other! Only a mother can truly understand the demands and pressures of another mother.
But here’s the thing: we can’t let motherhood rob us of one of life’s greatest blessings—and that’s a healthy marriage. I’ve often said that I believe the marriage comes before mothering. I’ve taken some heat for it, because some take that to mean that I don’t care about the kids. This is not the case. Here’s why:
The marriage is the primary relationship at home. Many moms believe that their children should come first; after all their husbands are grownups! I understand the reasoning behind this, but I believe it’s based in a misunderstanding of God’s design for marriage.
The intent of the mom who puts her children before her marriage is noble, but it lacks vision for the greater picture of a truly healthy family.
Have you ever heard a flight attendant as she instructs passengers before take off? She’ll say something like, “In the unlikely event of a loss of cabin pressure, SECURE YOUR MASK FIRST BEFORE ASSISTING YOUNGER PASSENGERS.” This is because everyone knows that if the parents pass out from lack of oxygen, the child is rendered defenseless in most cases.
Your marriage is a lot like this situation. Think of nurturing your marriage in the same way you might think of securing an oxygen mask to yourself and your husband. Breathe life into your marriage every day. Keep your marriage physically and emotionally healthy.
If we create a child-centered home to the neglect of our marriage and the marriage falls apart, or if we only give the marriage 50% of the oxygen it needs, the marriage will suffer. And the children of that marriage will suffer too.
So yes, love your children fiercely. Teach them. Discipline and train them. Nurture them.
But love your spouse FIRST. Your spouse should get the best part of you. Healthy relationships with our children flow out of healthy, thriving marriages. The best thing a busy mom can do for her children is to love their father.
Precious mom, take time to recharge your inner batteries. You need to have something left for your husband at the end of the day. Give yourself an hour of quiet time each day to shower, read, nap, or tidy up (if that’s what relaxes your heart and mind). I’ve been doing “quiet time” for years. Quiet time just means that the kids are either reading in their rooms or napping, or watching a movie quietly. The point is: do what you need to do to refresh your spirit. The days of mothering are long but the years go by fast. Be sure your marriage is thriving when your nest is empty.
The investment you make in your marriage today pay dividends far into the future. Your marriage is worth investing in!