Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Marital Moments, Issue 4: Priorities, Priorities...

Wow, this has been such a busy week! I must apologize to any of you who check out my blog for my Marital Moments post on Fridays. Today is going to be a "Marital Moment Monday" instead.

When my husband and I got married, I purposed to always make sure his needs were met; physically, mentally, emotionally, etc. so that he would not have to struggle with the idea of having an affair. I had watched too many friends, family members, and people at church (including a pastor) who had withdrawn emotionally or had affairs because they were lonely and vulnerable within their marriage. While I am not placing blame or excusing their actions in any way, most times if you talked with them for any length of time about the situation that they were in, it boiled down to their needs not being met for long extended periods of time. In some cases,a spouse had decided that it hurt too much to leave themselves open emotionally so they withdrew. The household became people living under one roof but all living separate lives. In other cases, adulterous thoughts came, they entertained the thoughts and eventually those thoughts led to devastating actions.

Now if you have been married for any length of time, or have a tremendous gift of foresight, you know that my idea that I would meet my husbands needs all of the time was unrealistic. In one word, children. Or another word could be work, or ministry. Now these things are all blessings and gifts from God, but it takes some concentrated effort and prioritizing to make sure your spouse's needs (and children's needs) are being met.

Growing up in Sunday school, I remember learning the "JOY" principle to prioritizing: Jesus, Others, and then You. While that basic principle still holds true in this adult phase of life, priorities become more specific and look something like this for my life:

1. Relationship with the Lord
2. Relationship with my Spouse
3. Relationship with my children
4. Relationship with other family members
5. Ministry
6. Friends
7. Neighbors
8. Self

It has taken me some time to be at peace with the fact that although this may be how I put my priorities down onto paper, they often fluxuate for periods of time in the "real" world. Right now our Steering Team is in the process of kicking off our new MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) year. This is one of the busiest times of year for me and the ministries that I participate in. There are some key things that I have learned over the years that I wanted to share today that have helped me when I am entering these busier, "not the norm" time frames. Times where I am aware that my spouse's needs are probably not being completely met.

The first thing is COMMUNICATION. If I have taken some time just before things get really busy to communicate the upcoming time demands that I am anticipating with my husband and children, they are much less likely to get bitter, angry, or cranky about the time that I spend away from them and their needs. If I wait until I am in the midst of the business to get my family on board, it usually isn't pretty...I'll let you imagine what kind of conversation that may look like...haven't we all had them? Now sometimes things are going to unexpectedly come up; work demands suddenly change, someone who normally shares your load is ill or has a family emergency, etc. Yet communication is still key. Communicating that you are aware that things have taken you away from your spouse (and family) and their needs are not being met, will often diffuse any negative emotion that they are experiencing. Many times people just need to know that you are aware that they have needs and that you are grateful when they carry more of the load than normal to get them through the busy time until things can return to a more "normal" state.

It is VITAL that after a busy time frame where your spouse's needs may have been unmet or lower than what they are used to, that you go out of your way to reconnect and restore their placement in priority. If you allow your spouse's needs to remain unmet for extended periods of time, you are allowing them to be more vulnerable when satan attacks. You will notice that I said, "when satan attacks." I have stated this before, but I don't believe that satan has to continuously and creatively come up with new things to get people to sin. He has found things that are common to most of us and just waits for those vulnerable moments to mount his attack. He is a "roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour" (1 Pet. 5:8). Men are said to be "taken captive by him" (2 Tim. 2:26). Christians are warned against his "devices" (2 Cor. 2:11), and called on to "resist" him (James 4:7). We can help our spouses out in these Spiritual battles, by praying for them regularly and by checking our priorities on a regular basis. One of our pastors did an awesome sermon on how "intentions" are often different from the "direction" that we are moving. (You can listen on line at http://www.horizonschurch.com under "media" choose "Road Trip-Principle of the Path by Jay Hawpe) We want to have a good marriage, but if we aren't moving in a direction that will get us where we want to go, we will never get there.

As always, I would love to pray for and with you as you pursue your marriage. Feel free to comment below or send me an e-mail at ateachableheart@gmail.com. Would you pray for my relationship with my spouse (and family) during this busy season of ministry?

Many Blessings!

2 comments:

Susan P said...

Having been married now for 13 years, this post really hits home. We have had those times of emotional distancing - and have had to purposefully go out of our way to restore harmony in our marraige.

Shanda said...

Thank you so much for commenting-I think it is so important for people to know everyone goes through ups and downs in marriage!