When I learned a friend was going through a divorce, my heart broke.
Sadly, I’ve seen several Christian marriages fall apart over the years. Even homeschool couples drift apart in the busyness of parenting and life.
God opened my eyes to this problem several years ago. We were homeschooling our four children who were in their teens. We were both serving in several ministries at our church, plus I was working part-time and teaching in a co-op. I was much too busy, and my husband was sadly my last priority. Around that time, I became quite sick with a long-term health condition. I was too exhausted to continue any of the activities outside the home and I was very discouraged. One of the biggest lessons God taught me through that time was that my husband needed to hold a higher place in my schedule and in my heart. I’m thankful God used that trial in my life to help our marriage grow stronger again.
As I share what I learned, I pray it will help you have a strong marriage, which I believe will make your homeschool more successful as well.
PRAY for your spouse every day
Pray for them many times a day if God lays it on your heart to do so! It helps to keep them in the forefront of your mind, and also reminds you of their needs and the many ways they are a blessing to you. It can help if you’re feeling frustrated with them too! By giving those frustrations over to the Lord, He’ll help you see the whole picture, not just your perspective. If you’re not sure what to pray, here are a couple of links to great prayers for your spouse:
FOR WOMEN: 40 ways to pray for your husband
FOR MEN: 10 things to pray for your wife
MAKE TIME with your spouse everyday
Carving out time for one another every day is so important. Dr. Emerson Eggerich, author of Love and Respect, says that both men and women need time together to make a relationship thrive.
Women need face-to-face time where they can connect with their husband, talking about their day and their feelings. Husbands, spending even five to ten minutes of face-to-face time with your wife will help them feel more loved.
Men need shoulder-to-shoulder time with their wives, doing something together (without talking much is okay with them!). This shoulder-to-shoulder “hanging out together” time helps him see that his wife likes to be with him, and in turn that she respects him for who he is. Wives, handing your husband tools while he fixes the car, or just hanging out near him while he’s working on a home project will make him feel valued in your eyes. You could watch a football game with him and he may even take you out to dinner afterwards because he enjoyed having you by his side watching the game so much!
Understand the LOVE AND RESPECT connection
I highly recommend the book “Love and Respect” by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs which is based on the verse in Ephesians 5:33: However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. In this book, Dr. Eggerichs talks about how men and women are created differently, and that they have different needs.
God, as the Creator, made us with different needs. He gives this command that the husband is to love his wife and the wife is to respect her husband. The woman’s greatest need is to feel loved and cherished. The man’s greatest need is to feel respected. You might be thinking, “women need respect too!” or “men want to feel loved too!” Yes, that’s true, but studies have found that typically a woman’s greatest need is love, and a man’s greatest need is respect. Our society has elevated the need for love way above the need for respect, and unfortunately, many men are suffering for it.
As wives, we see our husband’s faults and we think we know just how to help him become a better person! Sadly, our manipulations and negative comments only serve to make him feel disrespected for who he is. When a husband feels disrespected, he often reacts by being un-loving, making harsh comments or just disconnecting emotionally from his wife. This in turn causes the wife to be more disrespectful, criticizing her husband in various ways. Then the husband responds by shutting down and going away by himself, which the wife perceives as un-loving. And as Dr. Eggerichs says, the Crazy Cycle begins! And we go round and round hurting one another without even realizing it. This book will help you to understand how we get on that Crazy Cycle and more importantly, how to get off it!
Most of us know we’re not perfect, and yet, we often expect our spouse to be perfect. We all fail at times, we make mistakes, or make bad choices, and we hurt those we love. We need to follow the example of our Heavenly Father, and extend grace and forgiveness to our spouses. When our spouse does or says something that makes us angry, we can choose to dwell on it and get more angry, or we can intentionally decide to extend grace to them; recognizing that they’re not perfect, just as we’re not perfect. Another great read that talks about extending grace in your marriage is called “The Grace Filled Marriage” by Dr. Tim Kimmel with Darcy Kimmel. If your marriage is struggling because of harbored resentments, you may want to read this book to help you forgive and put the past behind you.
WHATEVER IS ADMIRABLE… THINK ON THESE THINGS!
Apply Philippians 4:8 to your spouse. “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8 When we feel frustrated with our spouse, it’s easy to focus on all their negative character qualities! We all have them, and when you live with someone, you typically see their negative qualities. We choose what we’re going to focus on, their good qualities or their bad. It makes a world of difference when I choose to look at my husband’s admirable qualities (and he has many). I feel happier, and more grateful, and I treat him better when I make this choice.
MAKE YOUR MARRIAGE A PRIORITY
Life gets so busy, we have to be intentional about making our spouse and marriage a priority in our day and in our heart.
Yes, our kids need to be a high priority too, but our spouse needs to come before our children in our hearts. I don’t mean we shouldn’t take care of our children’s needs, but there are times when their wants could be put off for a bit so that our spouses’ needs AND wants could be met first. The good news is, as our children see a healthy marriage, they’ll learn how to have a healthy marriage of their own some day.
LAUGH AND HAVE FUN TOGETHER
There are so many responsibilities in life, especially as parents. We need to make time to have fun, to laugh and enjoy one another like we did when we were dating. Schedule a date night and have fun together!
I admit, praying together can be difficult to make happen, but I do believe the benefits are worth making it a priority. Ask God to help you to make time to pray together regularly!
“Love, like anything alive, is in a constant state of motion, either growing or diminishing. The conditions we create for our love – and our responses to the hits from life- will determine whether our love thrives.” Dr. Tim Kimmel, The Grace Filled Marriage
Strive to make your love and your marriage thrive! If you’re feeling discouraged and overwhelmed in regard to your marriage, God can help you to make the changes that are needed. Turn to Him, seek His help and commit your marriage anew to Jesus. Read one of the books I recommended above or go to a marriage conference. If your marriage has hit rock bottom, seek out professional help or the help of a strong Christian couple. God created marriage and He wants to help you make it work!
As you make your marriage and your spouse a high priority you’ll reap the benefits in your home and your homeschool.