This past November, my husband and I had the pleasure of attending a marriage conference in Louisville, Kentucky, hosted by New Birth Ministry Center. Both of us felt an intense need to be present. We were struggling with balance and really needed to breathe some new life into our marriage. It didn’t hurt that Montell Jordan (This Is How We Do It) and his wife Kristin Jordan were the keynote speakers.
To be honest, I’m not sure if we were ever really able to settle into a good and balanced routine. Brent and I were married in December 2012 and became an instant family. I brought two children into our marriage. Three months after we said “I do,” I found out that we were expecting. The excitement hit, and we jumped right into prep mode. There was already little to no time for date nights with kids, school, Brent’s ministry engagements, and work.
We kept rolling this way; it was all we knew. But by September 2015, I’d had enough. I pretty much hit a wall. We were having tons of spats about where and how time was being spent and the money involved in spending said time. My husband is really close to his family. He was used to being able to pick up and go for every little thing that was happening. That’s not so easy when you’re raising three kids. I ended up skipping a pretty major family event and sent him alone with the all of the kids instead. It wasn’t the punishment I hoped it would be, but he missed my presence and realized we had to make some changes.
Still, though, we were at a loss for how to fix this wackiness. We weren’t miserable, but another few years of this, and I don’t believe we would’ve liked one another very much. I’m fond of liking my spouse and him liking me. Marriage is hard and that friendship is vital.
We attended the marriage conference not knowing what to expect. We did know that having recently watched the Jordan’s UnSung on TVONE that he and his wife would have some great jewels of wisdom to offer us.
As if God himself whispered in their ears, they began the first session with a list called “First Things First”. This list has 7 points/priorities and explain their proper place within your marriage. I realize that not all of you who read this post will be Christians or espouse any sort of belief in a “higher power,’ but I hope that doesn’t stop you from considering this list and tweaking it to fit your family. You can also purchase the book here. Let’s explore the points below:
- God – Here Montell and Kristin speak about maintaining your personal relationship with God. By doing this, you’ll gain strength, peace, and wisdom, and all other life will grow from there. I know that I am better equipped to deal with what the day brings if I take time to pray and or have received revelation from scriptures I’m studying. I am better able to see others as image bearers of Christ. The scriptures become living, breathing life.
- Spouse – This point really helps drive home the fact that after God, there is no one else that should be considered or placed before your spouse, not even your children. One of the most important things here is understanding your spouse’s love language and communication style. Dr. Gary Chapman wrote a great book expounding on the 5 Love languages. I believe that good communication and a spouse that feels loved makes your consideration of them and them of you enjoyable. It’s not a task to be checked off the list. It’s two people CHOOSING to love one another.
- Children – If your children are anything like mine, they can be demanding and downright exhausting some days. From toddler fits to preteen hormones, it’s enough to leave anyone ready to sneak away for a little no touch time. In this point, Montell and Kristin speak about remembering that our children are gifts from God and will be the legacy we leave behind. Read: Psalms 127:3-5. While caring for our children, we can’t let them and their needs consume us. One day they will leave and have their own lives. We must live with them and not for them.
- Church – If you are a believer and a part of a assembly of believers, you know how important and fulfilling it can be to be a part of a Church that fits you and your family. There’s an extra zing that we experience after gathering with a body of believers. The Jordans caution here against not allowing church attendance to take the place of the personal relationship you have with God. This is an especially important one for us because my husband is a pastor. It would be really easy to allow all of our planning, talking, ministering to others, and working in the church to replace the personal time we spend with God. All that we do in and for our church and any calls to minister elsewhere must be weighed out. Sometimes we honor God more with a “no” than a “yes.”
- Family & Friends – As you read above, this one was a pretty big headache for us. Constantly reassess the placement of your family and friends in the scheme of your family life. If it’s stressful then things MUST change.
- Career – There was an audible gasp followed by laughter in the room when they announced this one as number six. After reading and hearing the Jordan’s thoughts on this point, I realized that you will eventually leave or retire your career. Then what?
- Personal Interest/Hobbies – This one nearly took the wind out of my sails. I am an introvert, and I crave quiet alone time. I don’t always get it each day after all of the above are tended to. However, when it comes, and I know that all else is satisfied, I enjoy it more. I can relax without my mom brain thinking about the million things I should be doing, and there’s no guilt.
Life is too short not to be living it in such a way that you can truly enjoy the moments. My husband and I are striving everyday to be sure that we are keeping our marital balance. After all, he’ll be my travel buddy when we’re old and gray. I prefer we share sweet laughter instead of bitter memories from a life we let run us over!