I recently read a tribute from a woman I respect on the occasion of her 25th wedding anniversary. She was honest in her portrayal of a lengthy marriage as a series of twists and turns taken together. What struck me the most, however, was a brief remark she made apologizing to her husband that she had frequently been a better mother than wife.
I was struck with conviction at her statement. The same is true of me. I quite often feel like I am still just a teen-aged girl playing house. Who plopped me down here and entrusted me with all the responsibility of a home, three kids, a growing menagerie of pets? Seriously, when did I become such a grown up?
In the face of all the responsibility, most women realize we cannot be all things to all people. There is simply not enough to go around to all the roles in our life: wife, mother, daughter, friend, employee, volunteer, sister. In order to survive with some degree of sanity, we make choices. Who will we give our best? Who gets our leftovers?
In my case, I have a husband that works long hours. By the time he gets home, I have generally already put 13-14 hours into Mommy-ing and managing our home. By 8pm I just want to be 'off.' I want to kick up my feet and think only about myself for a bit. That's normal and defensible, right?
It is easy for me to forget that he has put 13-14 hours into caring for other people all day long too. I think homemakers can sometimes allow ourselves to believe that when our spouses leave the house they are on vacation--but they are working hard for the family too. As a team we should remember that we both work hard in different places with different types of stresses and challenges with (hopefully)the SAME goals in mind.
Part of being a 'helpmate' means being the place of peace and rest that the other comes home to at the end of the day. It means being safe and kind. It means listening. It means attending to one another's emotional and physical needs--even when you are tired and don't want to. Some nights this means sitting on the sofa side by side in the romantic glow of laptops because quiet space to be productive is a mutual need. Other nights it means losing ourselves in a movie, laughing together. Still other times is means turning off the tv, closing the laptops, shutting down the ipad, not returning those social calls and texts and giving each other full attention. This requires intentionality in my house. It is a decision.
It is easy to understand how children edge out spouses. They are minors. They are completely dependent on us for food, shelter, clothing. Many times they are more demanding. They don't feel the guilt of being 'needy' like adults often do. Adults in our lives can surely fend for themselves, right? Sometimes, yes...but may we not forget that we made vows to one another. It is a covenant we stand under to be on the same team--sensitive and in sync.
The good news is that this investment generally pays for itself many times over. Even when life is stressful and exhausting, I find peace in just being reminded that I am a part of a team. I am not alone. I am loved. And, honestly, being needed and wanted is not a bad thing.
No neat bow on this one...just rambling thoughts I am trying to remind myself. It looks different in every household and every relationship, but I prayed that God would specifically show me a couple of things I could do to show my husband that he wasn't an after-thought. Then I told him, so I would have the added accountability of committing to it verbally. Do you know what made him feel the most loved? Not anything I 'did' but just the initiative that I was thinking about it.
We can't do it all or be it all. We can't. But we can pray daily that God will help us sift through all the fluff and the noise to find what really matters and give those things everything we've got.