By Eric on September 22, 2011 4

Priorities

Say it with me, “First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage.” This silly childhood chant provides some key insight into the priorities of life. In the marriage course we took a few years ago, we learned about who should have priority in our lives. Although that little rhyme above doesn’t mention that God should be first in our lives, it does say that first comes love, then marriage and then the baby. I think of that when Kels and I are talking about priorities.

If our priorities are God, self, marriage and then children, how does this relate to the amount of time we spend with each? (Gulp. That’s a hard thought to swallow.) I can’t pretend to have this all figured out, or even a magic formula to live by. But I do know that talking about it with my spouse ensures that we are on the same page, and it’s something that we continually work on. If we are intentional and constantly trying to keep these priorities, it might help when things get off kilter.

Priorities

  1. God: For me, this means spending time with God every day, and that usually looks like some quiet time in the morning. I am always the first out of bed and that’s when I make this happen. I have a daily Bible reading plan on my iPhone that keeps me on track. It’s taken years for me to finally develop a routine that works, so don’t be discouraged if you’re not there yet. You have to find a time that works for you, and be selfish with that time. Put up boundaries that let those around you know that your time with God is important.
  2. Self: This ties in to your time with God, I think. We must invest in ourselves in a way that will help us stay healthy. If we are not healthy or growing individually, how can we help our spouse or our children grow? For me (lately anyway) it has been working out. I had to tell Kels that I wasn’t going to car pool with her because I need to go to the gym after work. I’ve kind of been a lazy pile the past few years and think it’s high time to get in shape.
  3. Spouse: Now that my spiritual and physical needs are filled up and ready to go, I can pour into my spouse. Helping out with chores, planning a date night, making dinner, taking outfit photos, etc. Serving your spouse intentionally does not come easy for either of us. It’s something we are constantly working at and talking about. We know from experience early on in our marriage that if we aren’t open about these types of things, we end up becoming roommates instead of lovers.
  4. Children: Setting boundaries and keeping our children No. 4 on this list will, I’m sure, be one of the hardest things to do as a parent. Children have needs that must be met at all hours of the day and night. We want to meet all their needs and also make them feel loved unconditionally and establish a relationship with us that they never question. We will certainly need help and constant reminders to keep our spouse as a priority before our kids. The one thing we will have to be sure to do is to keep some sort of date night going. It might not be every week as it is now, but it will still be important. Some day the kids will all leave the house, and it will be back to the two of us. Keeping your marriage before your children I think sets a tone for your family. Your children get to see a strong marriage at work and will hopefully carry that on for generations.

This topic has been in our conversations a lot lately with baby on the way. How do your priorities match up?

Eric

Husband to Kelsey. Father to Rooney. Follower of Jesus. Born and raised in Iowa. I like blogging. Bulleted lists excite me. Thanks for stopping by.

  1. I just want to say that this is a great way to organize your marriage and life. My parents have been married for over 28 years and have 8 children. Growing up, we always knew we were further down the list from their relationship. My mom always says, “Sorry kids, I love you, but if it came down to it, your father comes before you. As a parent, I our relationship is built-in, but my marriage is the one that takes more work.” I never doubted for a second that my parents loved us unconditionally, but I also knew that they could not be good parents if their relationship with God and with each other was not in order.

  2. I like what you said Eric.
    For me, my priorities are God, my husband and then me. When we have kids it will probably become God, husband, kids and then me.
    When I say “God” I mean honouring God and working on a relationship with Him. When I say “me” I mean my own interests, needs and desires.
    Not because I am trying to be some super humble Christian but because I know myself and naturally I can be selfish and look after my own interests.
    In actively working to put my husband’s needs in front of my own, I remind myself that my priorities in marriage should be serving my husband and not my own happiness.
    It’s still a work in progress though.

  3. It is EXTREMELY hard to keep your marriage a higher priority than your children, especially if that child/children have a special need. We have a child who has “high functioning autism” and it is EXHAUSTING advocating for him since I am a SAHM and what I see here at home is not what others see in a short 1hr observation/interaction with him. So, the way I see it (and what works for us) is sometimes Jr’s needs have to take a higher priority than our marriage…that’s the nature of the beast. But, sometimes my husband gives/takes more than I do and that, too, is the nature of being human in a marriage. In OUR situation, we find it impossible to keep our priorities in perfect “alignment” every single day. I feel that as long as God knows, I know, my husband knows and our child knows where our priorities fall — on average — over a period of time, then we’re all winning. :)

  4. It is true that someday, children will leave the home and it will be the two of us again someday. Which is part of why it is so tempting to put all your time and energy into your child(ren), because your time with them is limited and fleeting. My husband and I have been tempted to put our marriage “on the back” burner until our daughter doesn’t need us so much. There’s this feeling that we’ll always be there for each other, so if our daugter takes all our time for a few years, so be it. We are slowly realizing that this won’t work. We need to have a marriage remaining intact when she’s older.

    The priority we also try to fit on our list is career/ work. In my experience, priorities shift daily, if not hourly, and it takes work to keep all those plates spinning. And sometimes they fall and break, and it’s OK to pick them up and try again.

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