Each stage of life looks different and brings unique challenges to every couple. My hope is that you will be inspired by the stories of the women in this series. I hope that their experiences will help you find more ways to make your marriage relationship a priority throughout every stage of your own life.
Seana has been a long time reader of A Prioritized Marriage. I always look forward to her comments and insight and usually wake up to an e-mail with a comment from her the mornings when I've scheduled a post. I've loved getting a glimpse into her life and her marriage through the experiences she shares and was really excited when she accepted my invite to participate in this series!
What does it mean to you to prioritize your marriage?
It means following through on the vows I made on my wedding day. When we got married, the vows seemed like flowers and roses and hearts and song lyrics... and they were! They are beautiful words that encapsulated the commitment we were making to the one we loved. As time wore on, they become the standard I aspired to. Sometimes this was easy, and sometimes it was a challenge. Prioritizing my marriage means keeping the vows regardless of how I am feeling, and it always pays off. Feelings fluctuate daily and are swayed by many external forces, but marriage has been designed by God to endure.
How have the different stages you've experienced in life affected how you prioritize your relationship with each other?
Seasons of life impact the amount of time, money and energy we have for our relationship. When our children were small and funds were slim, it was a challenge to pop out and have a date. We had no family nearby, sitters were expensive, our children were often sick and they were known to complain about being left with a sitter. That was a big adjustment from our “dual income, no kids” days. The best solution for that stage was church activities because the price was right and there were friends for all age levels. (These are still our best friends today!) As the children became tweens and teenagers, we seemed even busier getting them to their activities and fulfilling mounting professional commitments. My husband’s job requires regular travel, so we needed to navigate his periodic presence both as a husband and a father. It was always helpful to have specific times in our week when I knew I could get his undivided attention, even if only for an hour.
What are some rituals/traditions (big or small) that you have with your spouse?
First, we are big “celebrators.” Whether it is a holiday, a promotion, a birthday or a successful big presentation, we celebrate it. Bring on the decorations, make special food, dress up... whatever makes it feel festive. Life has plenty of heavy, and I want our marriage to be a place of joy. We always put cards on the mantle, go big for birthdays, and have traditional activities for all the major holidays.
Second, I try and make home a welcoming place. Again, my husband is often traveling, so if it is a big trip, I’ll make a “welcome home” sign. I pick up the house so he can walk into a space that feels relaxing. I try and keep a list of the “honey dos” that I save and review only once a week rather than constantly nagging him with things that need attention.
Third, we buy tickets. It’s easy to get lazy about going out and having experiences when you are tired. Buying tickets invests us in a future experience, and greatly increases the likelihood that we will get out and do something. They aren’t necessarily tickets to something expensive (we love the local community theater), but the point is getting it on the calendar. When the kids were younger, it meant we made the effort to get a sitter. We’ve learned this over time and are better now than we used to be.
Fourth, we do things repeatedly as a couple. Our routines have changed over time, but we enjoy things that feel like “us.” For example, we might watch an old TV series on Saturday nights for a couple of months. We enjoy building and watching a fire in our fireplace (I air pop popcorn). We text each other the word “landed” whenever we reach a destination so the other person won’t worry. We look on Zillow together and dream about where we might retire. We play a lot of Scrabble. We help each other complete the New York Times crossword puzzle. We have two coffee pots (one for caffeinated, one for decaf). He holds my cold hands to warm them up. Little stuff like that.
How have the obstacles and challenges that you've faced as a couple made you a stronger team?
We’ve had our fair share of these, just like everyone else. Financial pressures, health issues, renovation stress... all of these have tested us. My learning is that when the tough times hit, don’t start wondering if you are married to the right person. Focus on getting through the problem, and tell yourself you can think about that later. In hindsight, you realize that you made it through, and that it was the issue that was stressing your marriage, not the other way around. It is tempting to see your spouse as the cause of a problem, but in most situations, this isn’t the case. We try to give each other the benefit of the doubt, something that I need to intentionally work on.
Tell me about something that you hope to be able to do together in the future.
Now that my children are grown, I am hoping to be able to travel along with him on a few of his trips, at least the ones to interesting places J I also work, so I can’t just dash off, but if I buy tickets, I can make it happen!