One of my priorities is spending quality time with my wife and kids. During my married life, I have consumed content from Pastor Jimmy Evans who is the founder of a ministry called MarriageToday. I’ve listened and re-listened to many of his sermons/podcasts and read some of his books. I wish I could say that my skill as a husband has matched my level of listening to Jimmy Evans, but I have no doubt that his material has helped me be a better husband.
One of the many things I have learned from Jimmy Evans is the priority of marriage over everything else in life except God. Some spouses tend to prioritize their children, thinking that their children need and deserve their attention moreso than their spouse. The risk here is that when the children grow older and leave the nest, you’ve not invested in your marriage the way you should. You’ve also shown your children priorities that are out of balance. Another thing I’ve learned from Jimmy Evans is the importance of praying together as a couple.
As a parent of two young boys, I can attest to the fact that children consume much of our time and energy. My typical work day involves getting up around 5:30 in the morning, spending some time with the Lord, getting ready and heading off to work at about 6:30. I work from 7:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. and get home about 5:00 p.m. We always eat dinner together as a family.
From the moment I get home, my boys demand my attention. Right now, they are not likely to go to bed unless we do, so I help out around the house and spend time with my boys until about 8:30 when we all start getting ready for bed. We read stories to the boys and try to have a short time of prayer before we dive into the sheets. Hopefully, we’re in bed by 9 or 9:30. Yes, I’m 41 years old but I still listen to Adventures in Odyssey while I fall asleep.
Our schedule gives me about 4 hours each evening to be with my family, but does not allow for any time for Leslie and I to be together alone. Nevertheless, we do spend a lot of time together as a family, around the house, going for walks and excursions, watching movies or football, and eating together. It’s not a sacrifice, it is a joy.
To prioritize time with God, I have to be intentional about it. I have to make a plan. I might pray at spontaneous moments of the day or worship the Lord while I drive to work, but to spend that quality time with Him that I know I need, I have to make a plan. I have to plan to get up in the morning. I’m certainly not perfect in executing my plan, but I do better because I make a plan. If I’m up later than planned the night before and don’t wake up to pray, I make a plan to pray in the evening. The same strategy applies for marriage.
Last year, I think Leslie and I had maybe 3 date nights the entire year. Planning date nights has not been easy, but I’m hoping that we will do better this year. During our attempt at a date night in February, we got rear ended and Leslie ended up in the emergency room. We never did make it to the Cheesecake Factory. Thankfully, we were okay but Leslie was pregnant and she was admitted to the ER as a precaution. Then Jacob was born on April 29th and we’ve been busy since then keeping up with our two boys.
Finally, in December, we had a real date night. We went to Panera Bread. Since there were barely any customers in the restaurant, we had a peaceful and quality time, just the two of us. This year, I am hopeful we will make a better plan. We’re doing better at praying together as a family. We also plan for the unexpected, because the unexpected will always come. It takes work, but the reward is worth it.