Anyone who has been married for more than a minute knows that communication in marriage can be challenging. Especially when children arrive and sentences are interrupted, paused and forgotten.
When parenting with all hands on deck replaces holding hands.
Carving out precious time as a couple can feel nearly impossible, especially in the intense stage of having small children. Or teenagers who stay up later than you do.
After twenty years of marriage my husband and I are still learning this important tip.
No matter what comes our way, laughter can keep us close
If we are intentional, our homes can be havens of lightness. Anyone else need to take themselves a little less seriously? I’m beginning to understand that levity requires practice. Rather than react, or overreact, to a situation, we can search for a tiny bit of humour to redeem a moment.
Perhaps a cheeky text sent if your husband is questioning your choice in a purchase?
Or follow your kids’ lead, if you happen to be raising a comedian. See the humour, not the bran.
And to break a rut of seriousness we may need to surround ourselves with people who can model lightening up for our families.
In marriage and parenting, spend time with someone who is a bit further down the road – someone who can model the skills and attributes you need in your journey.
To this end, we have begun stalking a family at our church who exudes joy. Their boys are a few years older than ours and every time we see them all together, someone is cracking up. So, of course, we had to wrangle an invitation to their house to find out their secret recipe. Pure and simple – they love to be together and they have no trouble lightening up.
Here’s what lightening up looked like in our marriage a few years ago.
Once upon a time there were two tired parents with three kids under four.
[I do realize we have four kids now, but this is from the archives]
After a chaotic night of putting children to bed, I looked at Marc and sighed, “We have a lot of kids.” I’m profound when I’m exhausted.
There are times that our brood feels very manageable. Like yesterday from 4:17-4:20. I rocked that.
There are other times when these few boys feel more like a bulk order from the stork.
For example, consider nail clipping. I am personally responsible for trimming 80 nails on a semi-regular basis. Actually, only 70, as one of the boys is a proficient fingernail biter.
If he were a bit more flexible, he would bite his toenails and I could get it down to an even 60.
In the midst of our chaos, Marc and I are working on speaking clearly with each other. Instead of sulking or eye rolling (we are mature that way), we are learning to say what we mean.
We are also trying to lighten up.
On this particular day, my ever evolving husband looked up at me, clearly stressed after wrestling the baby into a diaper and jammies.
He could tell that I wanted to chat about how three kids can feel like a lot. He, on the other hand, did not want to.
Keeping it real he said, “I just need space. I’m decomposing.”
When we are tightly wound, I know that we probably don’t want someone to suggest a more appropriate word or correct our grammar. But come on.
Taking a chance I ventured, “I think you mean decompressing, honey.”
“Maybe both,” he said, with a slight smile.
You’ll be glad you did.
More tips on keeping things light? Keep reading:
Flying Free, my article in Thriving Family magazine