Thursday, January 18, 2007

"...but I'm such a GOOD guy on my blog!"

My lovely wife goes to a group called Mothers of Preschoolers (or MOPS) a couple of times per month. They have these discussions on various matters related to parenting children of that age, and this evening their topic was "putting your marriage first."

So she comes home with this story of how this woman and her husband get up at 4:30 in the morning so they can have at least 30 minutes of talking together before the children get up. (4:30! In the morning!) I mean no sacrilege, but I sometimes wonder if Jesus himself were to call me at 4:30 in the morning whether I would ask if I could call Him back. Because of the me and the not so much being a morning person.

But the serious point she was making was whether we have been doing enough to put our marriage first. I wish I could say yes. But, in the spirit of honesty, probably not as much as much as we should. As I should. What with the aforementioned (on previous posts) "financial panic" of recent months, working more to try and alleviate said financial panic, my doctor's injunction for more exercise...well, sometimes it seems like we go to work, spend time doing RDI with the kids (for their autism), make meals, get the kids to bed, watch TV...and go to bed ourselves.

All of which makes me feel like a pretty crummy husband. (The fact that I would dismiss getting up at 4:30 so quickly doesn't help me feel any better about that.) And it makes me reflect on how easy it is to seem so good on a blog, whereas in reality I have to face sides of myself that are selfish, tired, stubborn, etc.

Not to make excuses here, but I do think part of this situation is a reflection of just how much is on our plates right now. Busy private practices, the normal parenting stuff, needing to make time for RDI, the extra time commitment from the dietary stuff we're trying to do...time for ourselves, time for the marriage somehow these get pushed aside.

Which is, of course, not good. And how many times do I tell my clients to make this stuff a priority? I can almost hear their refrain: "psychologist, heal thyself." But the devil in fixing this is in the details, as it were. In other words, what to cut back? At times, it seems like dilemma after dilemma.


Gannet Girl said...

If it makes you feel any better, I can think of exactly one friend who, with her husband, managed to "put their marriage first" during those years. And let's see...husband had great and well-paying job which involved virtually no travel, they always had a cleaning lady and, when the kids were little, a live-in au pair, and most of her family (and his) lives in town. I always admired the great job she did in attending to her marriage but, let's face it, the odds were in their favor. For most of us, when the children are young, there are way too many things vying for our attention and the grown-ups have to be grown-up about that.

more cows than people said...

well said, gannet girl. and thanks for your honest reflection, steve. sometimes when we observe in Bible Study groups that we're called to put our relationship with God before everybody and everything else, people start to flip out. their reaction is rather like a little girl i once met in montana who asked me "You know how the Bible says we're supposed to love God more than ANYone or ANYthing else?" "Uh-huh." I said. "Well, does that mean even more than our parents?" This led into a conversation about the infinite nature of love, the way we are made able to love our parents and other people and the world more fully if first we give all our love to God. So, as I tried to tell her, and I promise I was checking in for clarity and vocab, but this was a sharp little girl, Its not about loving God instead of your parents, its about being able to love your parents more because of how much you love God. With parishioners here I've talked about loving God through our relationships, through our parenting, marriages, friendships. Sorry, didn't know I'd go on like this. But these reflections and conversations came back to me when I read this post, I found myself wondering how you can, in this immensely busy time in your lives, prioritize your relationship with one another through the activities you do share- 4:30 a.m. chats are not for you (nor for me), but as you're doing RDI with the boys, how can your focus be on one another as well as on the boys? Or prepping meals? Or even watching t.v.? How can you be more together in the moments you've got?

I came out of my retreat this week thinking more about needing to put a higher priority on marriage and home and find your reflections an aid to my own. Thanks.

steve said...

gannet girl,

Thank you for your kind words. With so many other demands, it can be hard to put a marriage first. The question seems to come down to finding a balance, making sure no part of your life is too neglected.

more cows,

I really liked your reflections -- particularly on loving God through our relationships, which really struck a chord with me. Thanks!