Guest blogger Samantha Freestone is a mother-of-two who offers many of the things she has learnt as she and her husband of 13 years have travelled the ups and downs of marriage. And her big takeaway? Love your partner.
Samantha runs Some Answers, an Australian Christian podcast where she encourages Christians to talk about their everyday life, their struggles, and their faith.
Note from Treasuring Mothers
In commissioning this blog post there was some discussion – after all there are many readers who are single mothers. And single mothers are our heroines! How do they do what they do? With lots of hard work and tears.
But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t address the important topic of developing a strong marriage, because equally, there are many readers who are partnered.
Whatever. The truth is: being a mother is not possible without the care and support of those who love us. And that means family, friends and partners. And we all know there is lots of skill, forgiveness and intention involved in creating a great intimate relationship.
So, let’s do this! Love your partner!
Listen to Samantha’s podcasts with Treasuring Mothers:
Love your Partner
It was 2011 and we had just left our baby with sitters for the night. My husband and I were going to celebrate our wedding anniversary with an overstay night in the city. I remember waiting for the train as I looked over at my husband and thought, “Will we be able to have anything to talk about for the next 24hrs?”
For the last 14-months of our marriage, we had focussed ourselves on our little human, so I was curious to see how we would go. Turns out I had nothing to worry about, as my husband and I slipped into the regular conversation with ease. In fact I don’t think we even talked about our son the whole time.
Let’s Start at the Very Beginning
When I was approached by Treasuring Mothers to do an interview and a few blog posts, I really wanted to talk about loving your partner.
I know marriage is tricky and when you throw some kids into the mix, it can get even harder. We’ve experienced and witnessed the strain that kids can put on a relationship. I remember how hard it was for my husband to adjust to coming second, when my kids were born, simply because they needed me more. To me, it felt like I was being pulled from all directions and it was stressful trying to be all things to all people.
Now, before my husband and I were a couple, we were friends. We would watch movies together; have coffee hangs and even dinner together, just as friends. So, it’s important to remember that before your kids, you and your partner were friends. You had a connection and that’s why you fell in love. The hard part is making sure you maintain the relationship whilst you have kids. I don’t ever want to turn to him and re-introduce myself when my kids leave the nest. I want to relish in a relationship that I have with him now.
Four Things We Do
I want to preface by saying that my husband and I do not have the perfect marriage; however we have found tools that have helped us. Here are four things that we have felt have been very beneficial to us:
1. Have a “check –in time” with each other:
This doesn’t have to be done every week, but at least once a month. When the kids have gone to bed, we make tea, eat chocolate and ask each other “how are you?” This requires vulnerability and practice.
My husband is not a talker and I am. We’ve had to work hard in accommodating that in each other. So, instead of drilling my husband with a million questions, I limited the questions and give him space to pause and answer. Same with him, he has had to push past his desire to live as a hermit and interact with me honestly.
2. Share the family chores:
We realised that we are leading our kids by example when we do the chores around the house. We didn’t want our kids to see that the mum does all the cooking, cleaning, school drop off, homework etc. So we sat down with our schedule and looked at what we realistically could share between us.
This means, in our family, we have flipped the stereotypes; mum mows the lawn, dad folds the washing, mum cleans out the car, and dad cleans the shower. We wanted to show to our children that they can also do whatever job is required in the household and it isn’t based on gender.
It has also empowered me in so many ways and I have felt so loved by my husband when he displays through actions, that he sees us as equals. I have also appreciated the opportunity to model this dynamic to our kids.
3. Give each other some “outlet’ time:
My husband is a creative and we know that writing music fuels him. So one day a week, he is at home creating. He drops the kids off at school, comes home and writes till school pick up. I have NO expectation on him to do housework during this time.
His whole demeanour is so positive after he has a day to create. As my kids say, “It has filled his bucket”. I also benefit from this, as I have one day a week to write or record podcasts and the expectation on me is the same.
I also know many people whose partner needs to workout an hour a day, so that they can be present for the family. If you can work “outlet time” into your schedule, I believe you’ll be able to see the benefits. It doesn’t have to be a whole day, but just enough time where the person can fill refueled by it.
We do check in with each other to make sure that when we have these “outlet times”, we aren’t using them as a way to escape from our responsibilities. Being a parent is demanding, so it’s important you are looking after yourself before you can look after everyone else.
4. Get up early together:
I know that not everyone will be able to do this and I was hesitant to include it, BUT I have seen the benefits of this in my own marriage.
My husband recently started getting up early, leaving the bed and reading his devotional in the living room. He did this for a few days, before I decided to join him.
I wish we had done it earlier as the benefits have been so great. We sit in silence, drinking tea and coffee while we read, reflect and pray to ourselves. By 7am we are done, awake and ready to face the day.
I am not a morning person at all, but there has been something unifying about both of us getting up and reading God’s word. Now it doesn’t have to be early in the morning. But the idea of both of you, spending time together reading God’s word is very beneficial.
As I’ve said, by no means am I an expert, but with 13 years of marriage under my belt, I have learnt that it’s very important to keep being teachable in your relationship, so that you can love your partner.
I’m sure that many of you have your own tips for how you “love your partner” and I’m sure Treasuring Mothers would love to hear them. [Yes please! Write your comments below! TM]