Scruffy Beards and Yoga Pants
All these years later, I can still remember how much time and attention went in to how I looked on my wedding day. My hair, make-up, jewelry, and shoes were a topic of much discussion in the weeks leading up to the BIG day. I got married in the 80’s … the days of big wedding dresses with enormous puffed sleeves, over-sized bows, buttons, lace, and taffeta by the yards. My wedding dress weighed well over 10 pounds! Years later when my daughter married, I appreciated that not much had changed in the intervening 26 years, except maybe the weight of the dress! 😊
Jody and I married in the middle of the afternoon, permitting me most of the day to primp and get ready. At 3:00 p.m., as Jody and I walked back up the aisle after saying our, “I Do’s,” we looked about as lovely as we ever had. This was our shining moment! If the statement, “the clothes make the person” is true, then wedding attire delivers the message that you are young, beautiful, and hope-filled! The problem is, this level of perfection typically doesn’t last. It can’t.
I’m not sure when things start to change, but it is sometime between year four and the birth of the second child. This is when married couples start to care less about their appearance. The shine and polish starts to dim. It doesn’t happen overnight, but gradually you come to realize that your wardrobe is limited to yoga pants! You notice that your hang-up clothes are covered in dust. Shaving is no longer a priority for either of you. And, you discover that showering is a luxury – not the mandatory daily activity of the first few years of marriage.
Jody and I believe it was the Law of Physics that got us. The world spins on an axis – there is only 24 hours in a day! With the arrival of baby #3 in a little more than three years, some things had to go because we couldn’t make the days any longer. First, looking our best got tossed out with the baby’s bath water! In my day, there were no yoga pants. Instead, we had sweat pants and jogging suits. They are not that much different, by the way! Jody and I both put on a few extra pounds. We took a break from putting our best grooming foot forward. If Jody’s Army uniform was free from baby spit up, and my teeth were brushed, we called ourselves, “Good! In those days, our clothes and personal appearance spoke just as loudly to the state of our marriage as did our wedding finery on our wedding day. Our new scruffy appearance made the statement that we were starting to take our marriage for granted. Other things had replaced the importance of each other.
In rank order, your relationships should be God, then your spouse, then your children, then your extended family, friends and neighbors. NOTE! Children, and the demands of raising them, should never be allowed to unseat your spouse. Keeping your relationship with your spouse a priority is good for you AND for your children.
If you are unsure of your own order, take a look in the mirror. Does the reflection sing your praise, or cause you to grimace? And if you are afraid to look for yourself, ask your spouse. They know where they stack up! If your spouse is out of place, he or she will answer quickly if they feel taken for granted, or not taken at all for that matter. From my own experience, I know that keeping your marriage a priority in every phase of life is easier said than done, but with a few tips, you can put your spouse back in the right place! Keep reading!
1) Daily Face Time. Spend at least 10 minutes a day truly looking at each other and giving each other your full attention. This is tricky
with young kids, but, I promise, it is not impossible! It is good for your kids to learn how to respect this boundary. Sweetly let them know that you are having “Mommy and Daddy” time, and that they need to wait patiently with their requests. Whether this time is in person or, if one of you is travelling, on FACE TIME, the conversation should be real and intimate. This time can start with the events of the day, but should not be about the events of the day. This time should include your feelings about the day; not a conversation you can safely have with a complete stranger. Intimate conversation feeds your relationship and keeps everything fresh. And before you start, brush those teeth! 😊
2) Table for Two. At least once a week, share a dinner meal with your spouse … sans kids. If you have access to a babysitter, hire one on a regular basis. This doesn’t have to break the bank – two hours a week is good. Now if funds are too tight for a babysitter, share your dinner, once a week, after the kids go to bed. Eat your dinner seated next to each other like you did when you were dating and wanted to sit close. Don’t use this time to conduct your conflict negotiations, but occasionally discussing a disagreement is ok. Talk about your personal Bible reading, or if you are using a Bible app, discuss the reading of the day. Discuss your prayer requests and encourage each other’s spiritual growth. Truly commune in every sense of the word.
3) The Dating Game. Once a month, every couple needs to go on a date! If funds are tight, find another couple that has kids and trade kids with them one night a month. Spouses can take turn planning these outings. Have fun! Remember why you first found each other attractive. Fuss over what to wear. Really put your best foot forward in trying to woo your spouse. Your efforts will not go un-noticed, and the benefits will be spectacular! 😊
4) Get out of Dodge. Every year or two, try to go away for a night or two. If you can afford it, go away for a week. This can be as simple as booking a hotel in the area, or planning an elaborate weekend away. The saving you do during the year to pull this off will be very valuable moving forward in your marriage. Nothing can replace time spent together with your spouse away from all concerns and focused only on pleasing your spouse. Treat this time as a second, third, fourth … honeymoon. Some young moms feel guilty even thinking this thought, but let me rid you of your guilt! The best parenting is done by a committed and totally engaged couple who loves God and loves each other enough to fight for this time away. Kids need to be surrounded by parents who love each other well! So, you have my permission. Let your love live large!
5) Respect the Temple, or Don’t Neglect the Temple of the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 6:19) It is easy to allow the busyness of life to interfere with healthy eating and exercise. Don’t fall into this trap. Keep it simple. Walks after dinner are a great first step. Play together outside. Join a couple’s kick ball league. Do anything that gets you off of the couch! The better you feel about yourself, the better your love life will be. I know that husbands won’t get this next part, but keep reading: Sisters, no husband has ever noticed a wobbly bit on his wife. Husbands are just thrilled to see their wife naked, on purpose.-not just an incidental sighting while she streaks to the shower. But husbands, a women’s self-esteem is a complex subject and in the interest of time, let’s just say a “mystery.” You don’t have to understand her obsession with her upper thighs or her back fat- tell her you love her. Compliment her often and encourage her to take some time for herself. Your wife’s natural focus is inward- the home, family and children and YOU! A wise husband understand all of this and encourages his wife to take care of herself, even if it means he takes a few hours a week to watch Junior so that she can get to that Zumba class. Jazz Hands! 😊
Not a very spiritual post today, but a practical post that I believe is right for someone. Make your relationship with God and your spouse your priority. Please keep reading, and get out of those yoga pants! Until next week!
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.