I was reading an article the other day that talked about the so-so marriage: the one that makes it day to day without too much turmoil but is more like existing instead of living. The author goes on to say that one reason many marriages are so-so is because many people are "married" to their kids instead of their spouse.
I'm temporarily a stay-at-home-mom. When Baby E was born in November and we got the call for her two weeks later, I had already started planning my next semester's curriculum. After a few discussions with my husband and some deep thinking, it was obvious to me that it would be best for everyone if I took a semester off to be with my two daughters. So I did.
And now my job is to take care of them: all day, every day. My life is centered around their needs, their tantrums, their moods, their bouts of illness, their desires. My days are filled with feedings/meals, diaper changes, play dates, naps (lack of naps), baths, outdoor fun, indoor fun, and then occasional "me" moments like a shower, a workout, blogging time, a flip through a magazine.
So when my husband gets home around 6:00 each evening, I am hardly in wife-mode. I've probably just cooked dinner (which may or may not have gone well). I'm probably holding one of my two kids while stacking dishes by the sink or loading the dishwasher. I may be returning a phone call, picking up toys, or cleaning spit off both myself and my infant.
This is SO not like the life we had when dating and then newly married. We would travel, kiss and hold hands all the time, eat dinner out, visit family for the weekend, watch whatever we wanted on TV, and plan our next vacation. It's true that having kids changes everything.
When the author of the article I read asked readers, "Are you married to your kids?", I felt 100% guilty. I do feel married to my kids. I give them nearly all my affection, time, and energy. I excuse this by saying, "But it's my JOB."
I do believe, deep down, that we should first love and honor God, then our spouse, then our kids. But my life is totally the other way. 1: Kids. 2: Husband and God (somewhere....sometime....someday.....).
I guess it's because my kids are right in front of me (or on top of me, or under me, or beside me) ALL the time. There is no, "Hold on, honey. Mommy has to read her Bible and pray quietly" moments. Conversations with my spouse are interrupted at least ten times. Though we are teaching our toddler to say, "Excuse me" when she wants to speak to us, that's hardly fixing the problem.
Experts often talk about scheduling dates and intimate times...blah, blah, blah. That takes money (to pay a sitter AND go out), time, and immense planning (for food, fun, etc. while we are gone and the sitter has to take over my duties). But I know, deep down, it's necessary and worth it.
And our lives will just continue to get busier as our kids get older and get involved in more activities, attend birthday parties, etc.
I just don't know sometimes how to get started and how to stay motivated when I know today I have six errands to run, dishes to do, and babies to care for.
I have an amazing husband, by the way. He's a great provider. He's a hands-on dad. He is present. He runs errands, helps with chores, and gets up for almost all the middle-of-the-night cries. I feel that I drastically under appreciate him. But I'm just too tired or unmotivated to do anything about my appreciation.
I don't want to be married to my kids.
I just, like all women, have to find that balance between all the roles we are to play. And play them all well. :)
Are you married to your kids? Your job? Something/someone else besides your spouse?
What do you love about your spouse?
What makes the two of you happy together? Travel? A picnic? A bike ride?
Schedule a date to do something you love.
Work your kids' schedules so that the family and the pair of you have some down time.
Turn off the TV.
Put the kids to bed early.
Hire the babysitter.
As Nike says, "JUST DO IT."