Doing life together ALISON WALLWORK BLOG.jpg

“Doing life together” is a phrase I hear a lot these days.  It’s especially fluent in the church world.  I’ve even said it myself many times……sometimes about the people in my church!  But mostly, I’ve said it regarding my husband.  I’ve said things like “I’m so thankful to get to do life with you.”  “I love doing life with you.”  I’ve often posted statements like this on social media networks when I’ve put up pictures of us or our family, and truly I’ve meant it!  However recently, in the midst of an extremely busy season of our lives, I came to realize that he became a little too much of that person.

What I mean by that, is I started looking at him a little too much as just the person I “do life with.”  This wasn’t intentional at all……it just….happened.  Somewhere in the middle of almost 10 years of marriage, having 4 kids and 2 dogs, and running 3 ministries, my husband started becoming more of a co-worker in my house.

Where I used to feel excited for him to come home so I could see him and be near him, I found myself just feeling relieved for him to be home so he could take over with the kids and I could have a break.  My desire to tell him about different things that happened throughout the day has too often been replaced by a desire to give him a list of things that need to be done in either our home or some other aspect of our life.  His hands have been used less for holding and more for passing off a fussy child to.  And to be completely honest, I was starting to also feel like the person he “just did life with”.  And I didn’t like it!

Granted, I know that our life now is completely different than before we had kids, and some of these are completely normal reactions.  Our pace of life is different.  Our down time is different.  Our date nights are different…..and definitely fewer and farther between…..and I know that all these are normal.  However, I also don’t want to settle for a “normal” marriage.

I don’t want to assume that after 10 years and 4 kids, our life is just made up of busyness and parenting!  I adore my kids, don’t get me wrong!!  But I also want to adore my husband and feel adored by him.  Speaking as a woman and a wife, I want to continue to have my heart pursued.  And HE deserves that from me as well.  He deserves to see a thankful look in my eyes when he comes home…..even if there’s also relief in them! Because the truth is that I am thankful that he’s the man that comes home to me.  He deserves for me to get excited about him!  To look at him not just as the other parent or for what can he do for our family but also as the man of my dreams.  And in the midst of mothering 4 small boys, I can’t say that I’ve done much of that lately.

We finally sat down, talked, and acknowledged that our marriage wasn’t feeling like a priority in either of our lives.  Not that it wasn’t a priority in our hearts, but it wasn’t in our actions.  Neither of us were doing anything that was purposefully hurting our marriage, but we weren’t doing anything to purposefully make it stronger either.  In the midst of all we had going on, we were honestly just DOING LIFE TOGETHER.  We were going through all our daily routines side by side but not making an additional effort to connect with each other.  And it takes additional effort.  And let’s face it, additional effort can be tiring!!  But marriages are worth it.  My marriage is worth it!  And if you’re married, so is yours.

I’m choosing to be transparent about this, because I know we’re not the only parents out there who have ever felt this way.  The demands of parenting are non-stop.  But somewhere in the madness of changing diapers, feeding babies, carpooling kids, play dates, sports practices, school activities, laundry, homework, etc…..we must find time to set aside for our spouses.  Time to have fun together.  Time to relax together.  Time to remind ourselves that we’re more than parents.  The only way our families can remain strong is to be intentional about this!  But marriages do take work and require personal sacrifice.  They don’t grow stronger all by themselves.  And there is definitely an agenda out there to take away from the amazing dynamic that God created our marriages to be.  I don’t want that to happen in my home.  I don’t want to stand by and watch my marriage become lukewarm.

So recently we went on a 2 night, 3 day stay-cation to my favorite local resort, which was his idea…..and which was do-able because a perk of living in one of the hottest places in this country is that they offer awesome deals in the summer when no one wants to be in our city!  Our kids came for 3 hours one afternoon, but the rest of the time it was me and him hanging out.  We needed that time.  Obviously we can’t always sneak away to resorts, but we can be more intentional about spending quality time together.

For those of you reading this that are married with children, make time to remember you are more than parents!  Parenting is an incredible aspect of life, but remind your spouse often how incredible he/she is too!  It is ok to collapse at the end of a long day on the couch and veg out in front of the TV, but don’t let that become the epitome of your husband/wife time together.  Find ways to connect with each other about more than who is picking up the kids, what’s for dinner, and the never ending “honey do” list.  We have to continue to choose love and fight for each other’s hearts!

One last thing, I don’t think the statement “doing life together” is necessarily bad.  I’m pretty sure I’ll still use it from time to time. I do however think that sometimes it can become a shallow way of connecting, so I’m going to make every effort in my own life to not let that happen.  I hope you will too!

Here’s to healthy, strong, purposeful, and passionate marriages!!