My husband, Jeremy, and I went on a marriage retreat over the weekend. We left the children with NaNa and PawPaw.
I highly recommend leaving the children behind to spend time dedicated to the marriage and your spouse.
Marriage is hard work.
It’s almost impossible to connect with your spouse if you’re not taking the time and energy to do it. No one connects in passing from one busy event to another.
So many people use their children as an excuse not to work on the marriage. The truth is, if you’re not taking the time and energy to work on the marriage, you’re teaching your children how to do marriage poorly.
Leslie Bennetts, author of The Feminine Mistake, brought up a fantastic point, “Motherhood [parenthood] is a temp job.” It lasts for about 20 years. But we live 80 to 100 years. We’re married for 50 years.
This is not to say that children are not a worthy cause, but it does mean that if we’re seeking our identity from parenting at the cost of all our other identities – spouse, friend, professional, spiritual seeker – we’re going to be lost and confused at the end of our 20 year parental service.
So often couples make their children the center of their Universe. In a lot of respects they are, it takes a great deal of time and energy to raise children, especially when they are very young.
Yet, that’s almost a piece-of-cake compared to the time and energy it takes to do marriage well for 50 years.
One of the kindest things we can do for both our sons and daughters is to teach them how to be married well. Which means we have to take the time and spend the energy to figure it out for ourselves.
Sometimes that means you have to hire a babysitter or enlist a mother-in-law to keep the kids for a well-deserved, much needed weekend away together. Dating is what married people should do.
If you’re one of those people who are terrified to leave your children I have some words of wisdom:
Stop watching the news
Conquer fear, don’t teach it to your kids
Find some people to trust, because many people are trustworthy
Do it anyway
At our marriage retreat we did a low ropes course. If you’ve never done a ropes course seek one out. They are incredibly fun and exciting and also a fantastic learning tool.
On a low ropes course you must learn to communicate in order to complete the tasks. This is applicable to relationships like marriage.
On a high ropes course you must conquer your own fear.
If you have the guts to climb a telephone pole, stand on top of it and jump off – you can do anything you’re afraid of. Really.
Even leave your kids to spend time with your spouse. Even have a scary conversation with your spouse. Even take a marriage education course or get some therapy.
The thing is – there really are a million legitimate reasons to be afraid in this world.
There really are a million legitimate reasons to get a divorce or be miserable in marriage.
Every single person on the Planet Earth feels a very real and definite fear at the top of the telephone pole.
Courage isn’t the absence of fear – it’s the ability to do it anyway.
Leave the kids anyway.
Talk to your mate anyway.
Emotionally invest and connect anyway.
Trust people anyway.
The adrenaline rush is worth it. The fact that the fear didn’t control you is priceless.
And ultimately when you do it anyway you teach your children courage instead of fear.