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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?