After 18 years of marriage with my husband, Kent, and I both working, God has taught us many lessons on juggling our working parent roles on top of everything else. It was hard to narrow it down to five, but these are the lessons I cherish the most:
Grace upon grace… upon grace.
There are seasons when certain careers are busier than others, which means there will be seasons where one working parent needs more support AND grace than the other. Kent is a student pastor, so his summers are crazy. Between camps, 1:1 discipleship, events, and our regular weekly services, he maximizes summers while his students have some free time in their own lives. I’ve learned for me, summer has to slow down so that I can be the support he needs. I may have to cut some of my extra projects and delegate more of my task list, but it’s totally worth to watch him shine during his prime time, and I know he will soon be returning the favor for me.
Avoid the “score-keeper” marriage.
Are you a score-keeper? You know, this kind of spouse:
“I made the coffee yesterday, so he needs to make it today!” Or “I took the trash out for the last three weeks; he better do it this time.”
It’s natural to want fairness with the to-do list at home, and frankly, if you’re both working full-time, you’re going to have to share duties at home too. So why in the world would you not be clear about those duties? We preach OVER-communication at swHw all the time, and marriage is one of the places where this principle is the most important.
Think about it. Have you ever had someone get mad at you about a situation you didn’t even know was going on? That’s the same thing we’re doing if we get mad at our spouses because they didn’t do the thing that we NEVER asked them to do in the first place. Share the load, but also share expectations.
Involve one other as much as possible.
Kent and I have always had “jobs” that require time from one another. I have learned his title as pastor volunteers me for a lot. However, my title as small business owner does exactly the same thing for him? When the alarm system goes off in the middle of the night at our gym, who will meet the police at our property? He will! Who checks the mail, reminds my team to turn the lights off, and helps me when the fire chief is coming for an inspection? Yep, Kent again.
For us, working together has become part of what makes our marriage special. I love the extra time we get together and adore my front row seat to watch Kent use his gifts and abilities. You may not have jobs that are easy to “share” tasks in, but even being each other’s final eyes on a project or proof-reader for a blog is so, so special. Teamwork really does make the dream work!
Lay out clear boundaries that help you stay true to your priorities.
This is imperative! There are a million things vying for your attention, trying to distract you from the sweet family God has entrusted you with. If your boundaries aren’t clearly laid out, you don’t have boundaries. It’s not enough to say that marriage and family will come first; you have to live it out. Choose each other first.
Be one another’s biggest cheerleader and greatest confidant.
The cheerleader part is self-explanatory but I will just say this: If you aren’t the first person your spouse texts when he has successfully presented at an important meeting or closed a big deal, there is something wrong!
When it comes to being one another’s confidant, this is an area you have to fight for. It’s so hard to find the time to keep each other in the loop on office talk, I realize by the time your day is over, you may not want to talk about anything work-related, but you have to try.
We’ve all seen marriages falling apart lately at a rate that is downright alarming. I’ve seen marriages fall apart that were once husbands and wives that I looked up to as an example. And the answer we hear so often when we ask what happened is simply, “We just grew apart. We started living separate lives.”
Friends, that statement should be terrifying to all of us. Let’s fight for unity. Fight for lives that overflow into one another. Fight for that amazing incredible covenant you made on that very special day.