Ryan and I were able to get away for a few days recently. We decided to bring our trailer up north and hike, camp, antique, and swim. We had a wonderful, relaxing, stress free, kid free time, eating too much, staying up way too late, and sleeping in way too long. We are generally so lazy on vacations, eating, sleeping, and watching movies are right up our alley but on this vacation we were really ambitious; hiking, swimming, kayaking, and shopping to name a few things that we accomplished. Having alone time is a huge priority in our marriage and we do it often. Every night the kids go down at 8:30, and he and I snuggle up on the couch for “wind down time,” a very sacred part of our day when we reconnect and relax with one another. We also go on a date every single week, just the two of us, for a few hours to reconnect, talk, and enjoy each other’s company, and every couple of months we get an overnight babysitter and go away for a day or two. We decided early on in our marriage that all of these activities were going to be necessities, and they were going to be worked into the budget and into our lifestyle. Our marriage, from the beginning, was a huge priority. Marriage is something that I take very seriously. I’ve seen and witnessed many marriages that were once so alive become so completely dead and stagnant as the years (and the children) take their toll. Marriage is the foundation to a healthy society. From a good marriage stems good families, from good families emotionally stable, healthy, children, from those children, hopefully another generation of healthy marriages and the cycle continues. The verse, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” Proverbs 27:17 is a good analogy for our marriage. We seem to draw out each other’s weaknesses, in a good way, we don’t ignore them and pretend like they don’t exist, instead we do call attention to them, we get to the heart of what it’s about, we pray about it, and we are stronger and more enabled through this practice of love with one another. Initially in our relationship we realized that our children had been through way too much trauma already in their young lives with the death of their birth parents and that we had been through quite a bit of trauma as well. We recognized that we had emotional scars that needed time to heal, and we also understood that the absolute best gift we could possibly give to our children was the gift of a good marriage. We were not at all naïve to the fact that we moved very quickly into marriage with each other, into a blended family situation with our seven children, and into a whole new life for all nine of us. We knew that we needed to carve out many special alone moments for the two of us to strengthen our relationship and strengthen our foundation so that we could be the best possible example of marriage for our children. Our kids see our commitment to each other, and they get excited when their favorite babysitter comes over every weekend to spoil them while mom and dad go out. They giggle and hide their eyes when we still have flirty moments with each other as daddy brushes up on mom and sneaks a random kiss and mom swats his hand off her behind and tells him while giggling to “stop.” This is the kind of example we want to set for them, the excitement that they witness as we get ready to have some alone time without them. They benefit and we benefit. Someday I want our kids to take with them a picture of a fun marriage, a giddy marriage, a marriage where mom and dad make each other a priority BEFORE the kids, where they flirt with each other years into marriage and really seem to enjoy spending time with one another. Kids can be very self sufficient and it is our job to train them to be independent for the real world, and we should not be placing them above our spouses. They will live for a few hours without us; they are being trained for that very thing - to live independently of us for their lives. My spouse, however, is the “till death do you part” piece of the equation, and by cultivating THAT relationship, the rest will fall into place much, much easier.
Just keep livin!!