“For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” Genesis 2:24 NASB
The relationship of marriage is unlike any other earthly relationship. The only comparison is the relationship between the church (believers) and Christ (Ephesians 5:31-32). It is the core of the family. Children are born and raised as part of that family unit, but when they are grown they leave that unit and create their own family with it’s own husband/wife core unit. That isn’t to say that grown children cannot be close with their parents, but the priority shifts from the parents to the new spouse. When that happens, so many mamas have “empty nest syndrome” and feel like they don’t even know their own husband, anymore. Why is that?
Most husbands feel that when little ones arrive, the role of “wife” gets usurped by the role of “mama”. It’s so easy for most of us mamas to agree that, yes, marriage comes first… until our everyday lives get in the way! Little ones are sincerely dependent upon us 24/7. They legitimately need us for survival. During the season of having littles, it can be so hard to remember that our husbands need us, too. No, not for survival (though I’ve known some men who might not survive if they had to cook for themselves!), but for relationship.
When a baby is born, mama is exhausted. Most of us go into survival mode and just try to make it through until we’re able to get enough sleep to think and function normally. During that time, the easiest thing to let slip is the marriage. After all, he’s a grown man and he’ll be fine until I can give him more attention, right? Wrong. Yes, expectations need to be adjusted and a “new normal” needs to be found. Things won’t be the same as they were pre-baby. The problem comes when the season of survival creates habits that last a lifetime. We may not intend to shuffle our husbands down the list of priorities, but it will happen by default, if we’re not intentional to make them the top priority (after God).
What does it really mean, in practical terms, to “put your husband first”? Does it mean ignoring the kiddos? Does it mean going on a date night every single week? Does it mean taking care of his wants before the children’s needs? No. It’s about knowing what you can do that really means something to him and making an effort to do it. I believe that putting our husbands first will look different in every single marriage. It will even change from season to season within each marriage. It depends on what is important to him, what tells him, “You’re special to me”.
I can almost hear all of you tired mamas with little ones pulling on your pants leg saying, “I can’t even keep up with the kids real needs! How am I supposed to find the energy to do extra things for my husbands?!” I hear you. I’m one of you. I’m tired, too, and I understand. But ladies, this is really important. Our marriages matter. Our husbands matter. You don’t need to be perfect and do it all, just try. He will appreciate the effort and nurturing your marriage really is worth it.
Before you jump in and start doing little extras for your hubby, please be sure that you aren’t wasting your time doing things that don’t mean anything to him. How will you know? Ask him! Find out what you already do and what you can start doing that would really matter to him. And don’t assume that something he told you ten years ago still applies. We all change and it’s important to allow that in our husbands, too. I’ve been guilty of saying, “But you told me once that you liked this meal.” Well, tastes change in a decade. I’d been making food I thought he liked and he was just tolerating it!
Ask Him for Input!
So, ask him if there is anything special that would really bless him. Some men have a hard time thinking of these things on the spot (or working up the courage to say them!), so I’ve included a list of ideas to get the conversation going. Show it to him and ask if any apply.
- Making (or not making?) certain meals.
- Giving him “downtime” for a few minutes when he gets home.
- Packing a lunch for him the night before.
- Making an effort to keep a particular part of the house clean (kitchen? bedroom?).
- Taking part in his favorite hobby.
- Taking a nap/rest when the kiddos are napping so that you’re not “too tired” in the evening.
- Wearing (or not wearing?) certain clothes. (My hubby loves my yoga pants, which are a comfy alternative to sweatpants, ladies!!)
- Planning fun family activities.
- Allowing for more family “downtime”.
These are just a few ideas to get the brainstorming started. If you are in a particularly demanding season of life and he’s asking you to do more than you can handle, don’t panic. Let him know that you’d be happy to do what he’s asking, but something else will have to be given a little more grace. For example, if he would appreciate the kitchen being kept really clean, then the rest of the house might not be as tidy. If he’d love for you to have more energy left at the end of the day (hint, hint- this is on the top of many husbands’ lists!) maybe he could do the dinner dishes with the kids while you lay down for half an hour.
This isn’t a post about demanding more from an already drained mama, it’s about changing where you put a little bit of your energy so that you can show your hubby how much you love him.
How do you make your husband a priority? Do you have any ideas to add to this list?