My husband’s job has required a number of longer business trips over the past few years. Navigating our separations has been its own journey for our family. He must witness some of the struggles from afar. I walk out the emotional turmoil and busy schedules on the home front.
Maintaining our home, driving the boys to and from school, appointments, football practice, band rehearsals, Boy Scouts . . . All of these fill our days and weeks.
I can carry the load, git ‘er done, and multi-task to complete everything on our daily schedule. I flex with surprise appointments, diagnoses. The assignments that should’ve been finished. Yesterday.
But I end up exhausted—weary to the very core of who I am—if I don’t connect with my best friend. The one with whom my heart is interwoven.
I bear the weight of our family in my spirit.
The boys’ needs for connection . . .
. . . the struggles they face as they begin to figure out how to walk out these teen years . . .
. . . find their identities,
. . . their independence.
There are days when we all retreat to our rooms, hurting from what another said. Some days, one does the hurting. Other days we all do the hurting.
When Hubs returns home from his trips, I feel the lightness as his shoulders help bear the responsibility—the calling—of raising two boys. I’m ready to dump everything on him and escape to a place of doing nothing.
My husband, being the amazing server he is, takes charge of caring for the boys to give me some time to refresh. And honestly? I’m happy to let him carry the weight for a little while.
I’ve discovered we have to guard our hearts against the temptation to live our lives parallel to each other. Caring for our family, our parents, and others who people our lives can wrench us apart if we don’t put boundaries in place.
It’s too easy to take each other for granted.
A marriage grows weak when there isn’t genuine caring. It falters when we become so busy with our responsibilities that we forget to connect . . . as husband and wife. As best friends.
In a season of life where everything else can be prioritized before my husband, I must guard my heart. I must halt the tyranny of everyday tasks that tempt me to forget to love my husband well.
Here are a few lessons I‘m learning:
- Connecting is crucial, especially when he’s away. Whether through email, or through Skype or FaceTime, we set an appointment to talk face-to-face at least a few times a week. Sometimes I chafe at having to set aside other tasks (I am a multi-tasker, after all). Spending the moments we have to look each other in the eye, to share how things are going, to talk through decisions . . . this strengthens our marriage.
- I have needs for time . . . and so does he. When he comes home from a trip, He often gives me alone time. I love him by giving him the same gift. He needs this to reconnect with the boys, re-orient to our groove, and have time in his man-cave to rejuvenate (he is an introvert, after all).
- Choose each other. To keep our marriage strong, we need time together, holding hands, talking, laughing. He’s more important than our boys, which means they won’t always get to do what they want. Hubs’ and my needs to grow our relationship is legitimate. It’s not less-than, simply because he doesn’t have the same pressing needs our boys do.
- Place relationship above tasks. My crazy need to get things done sometimes drives me harder than it should. I need to say No to the list and Yes to my man.
- Be honest about needs. If I gloss over my own struggles, I steal the opportunity we have to connect on a heart level. And he misses out on loving me by helping me meet those needs.Marriages grow when we connect at the deeper levels of who we each are.
Regardless of whether my husband is at home with us, or working somewhere else, connection is vital. The way our marriage will weather life’s challenges is to hold our relationship as our first priority . . . second only to our relationship with God.
When we do this, God will protect our relationship, and our love for each other will deepen.
What about you? If you’re married, what’s your number one key to keeping your relationship strong? If you’re not married, how do you stay connected with those you are closest to?
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