Just the Two of Us

Paul and I recently got away for the weekend, thanks to the generous service of my sister and her husband. That sweet couple offered to take our six children so Paul and I could shoot down to the coast for a diocesan event.

When my sister heard we had been invited to the annual Heritage Ball, she offered to watch the children for the entire weekend (instead of the one day I had requested). After looking at my calendar, I was excited to discover we might actually be able to swing it. We would have to leave around dinner time on Friday, but we wouldn’t have to be home until Sunday night.

Forty-eight hours! What a luxury.

As the day approached, several events crept onto the calendar. For starters, there was a basketball game Friday night. Fine, we decided, we’d go to that and then head out Saturday morning.

And then we found out there was another game Saturday morning. Okay, we said, we can leave at lunchtime.

Then we realized that lunchtime was probably going to turn into mid-afternoon and before we knew it our “weekend away” had evaporated into a sprint to Savannah and back.

In the midst of this, I was emotionally torn. It seemed selfish to choose a relaxing weekend away with my husband over cheering for our children in their beloved games. We brought these kids into the world, after all; isn’t it our responsibility to support them?

It certainly is, was my ultimate realization, but supporting them can look like so many things. One glance at the basketball schedule proved there would be plenty more games this season, we were by no means missing the only two. In fact, in a few weeks the pace would be picking up so much that it would probably be months before a date night (much less weekend away!) was on our horizon.

“I think we should stick with our original plan,” I finally texted Paul Wednesday afternoon, “basketball will be here when we get back.”

“Sounds good to me,” was his quick reply.

I was relieved and excited. This was the right thing to do. I had been getting so fixated on my parental responsibilities — in a very skewed way — that I was losing sight of the bigger picture.

In the grand scheme of things, one of the very best gifts I can give my children is to love their dad wholeheartedly. To love him and to be in complete unity with him — and that means making time for each other.

The best way to achieve marital unity, and to be on the same page as parents, is to make our marriage a priority. When the kids are grown and gone it will be, Lord willing, Paul and me. The last for which the first was made.

It’s easy to get tempted to put the children first — it’s natural and frankly, it’s what happens most of the time. Running carpools, fixing lunches, caring for sick babies and feeding, feeding, feeding — these are the practical details of our days.

We do all these day-to-day things, and we also love and guide and pay attention to the needs of our children. We did bring them into the world and we are tasked with the overwhelming and beautiful job of raising them in the way they should go.

But in the midst of that, a husband and wife need to find their way back to each other. They must never drift so far apart that they discover, years later, they no longer know the person seated across from them at dinner.

It’s quite a challenge, being the parents we are called to be while having the marriage we are called to have. Circumstances force parenting to take priority, so we must make efforts to not simply pull marriage along for the ride but push it to the forefront.

Putting your spouse first takes effort — but my goodness it’s worth it.

This originally ran in The Southern Cross.

Comments

  1. Man, you are so lucky. I suppose “blessed” is a more spiritual word! We haven’t had an evening away in 11 years, which was our 10th anniversary. Our families haven’t even visited in 4 years, angry that we moved, angry that we homeschool, angry that we’re expecting our 7th child, Especially Angry that we converted to Catholicism. Whew. Our prayer is that our children will have with each other (and us as grandparents) what you have. I know from your writing that you are grateful and sweet about such blessings ~ Merry Christmas to you and yours!!

  2. Yes! It’s so easy to get caught up in day to day things and forget to give our marriage the attention it deserves. Whenever I hear a parent mention how “their children always come first” I always wonder if they really mean that – are they forgetting that first is their spouse? As you mention, it’s so important to find unity as parents and to be on the same page. I laugh at the idea of the once a week date night that “experts” always suggest, but always try to take advantage of an opportunity to have some time away with just my husband – like anytime Grandma visits! Good for you for deciding to take the time you needed and making the weekend getaway work!

  3. So glad you got away! Thanks for the reminder. =) It’s easy to forget, or simply, to postpone time with our spouse.

  4. We seriously would not know how to talk to one another if the kids weren’t interrupting us constantly. We’ve gotten by with stolen minutes here and there since we hit the 3 kid mark in 1987. (we’ve 8 now and 2 grandkids) It doesn’t help that dad is working 3 jobs and I’m up to 2. But that doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t like to give it a try! Maybe we’ll work a little harder on that next year……..