beautiful art from this etsy shop
You might be hoping that you'll find an easy way out here, judging from the title of this post. But the truth is, I'm not going to offer excuses for you. Even when you're tired, you still have to push through. :) You still must find it in your power to serve, to bear burdens, to give, encourage, take care of yourself and your spouse, praise your spouse, and pray and dream with your spouse. Let's unpack it.
The best way to nurture marriage when you're tired is to simply serve your spouse, despite the tiredness. Give them a hot mug of peppermint tea on a Saturday night to help them wind down and prepare for bed. Offer to take or pick up the kids from Sunday School while they rest. If some of the kids are busy, offer to take the others to the playground so that your spouse can have some time to read. If they are serving you, notice and bring them a tall glass of lemonade. Serve!
Everyone experiences stress, because of life, work, and balancing the two. Even when you're tired, offering to help out with dishes, the kids, yard work, or cooking when they're home is the only way to bear the burdens your spouse is experiencing. Other ways you could do that? Read an article and recap it to your spouse, to save them the trouble of reading it. Ask your spouse for their prayer requests and then follow through with real prayer. Take the kids through a drive-thru and surprise your spouse with their favorite luxurious meal for the two of you, while the kids watch a movie. Surely a few of these things will relieve stress and bring some peace to your home.
One of my favorite traditions with my husband is our book date. We go to a bookstore, and we each have to pick out and buy a book for the other person. It's a fun, creative way to spend a night, but also? There is a deep, abiding feeling of joy when you give something to someone else. Perhaps it is the spiritual truth that, "It is more blessed to give than to receive." I know that some people love gifts because it is their love language, but as we all know- there isn't a one on this earth who doesn't like a gift. Christmas and birthdays attest to this truth! But we don't need a special occasion to give a gift.
While flowers and chocolate are a little too feminine for gifting to guys, there are a lot of gift-giving options for men out there. Does your husband have an Amazon wishlist? Ask him to make one, if he doesn't! Books make great gifts for guys- especially my guy, in particular. What does your guy like? Find out! Don't wait! And bless him in this way, whether it's his love language, or whether he would really rather renew the physical act, or go out to eat, or sit on the back porch and share a beer and good conversation. It isn't high maintenance- you can do it even when you're tired.
Encourage one another.
Recently, my husband turned to me and said, “I’m really glad you run the dishwasher every night. It is so nice to wake up to clean dishes everyday.” For a while, I ran it inconsistently, such as after breakfast when we had enough dishes to fill it up. Now, even if there is some extra space (there usually isn’t!), I just run it after dinner. Stephen noticed- and said something about it. It’s the little things, that- when noticed- become a soft spot for me. When I notice that he is working really hard on his studies, or in the yard, or does overtime for work, I tell him I’m proud of him. I can tell I’m not alone when I say that to feel appreciated? It improves the love and chemistry between us. Especially when I'm tired.
Take Care of Your Self-Image.
The best thing you can do for yourself, as a woman, is to stay away from comparisons. If reading certain blogs (such as those with bad language or a sub-Christian philosophy), or types of blogposts (I’m not a fashionista, so I tend not to subscribe to very many fashion blogs… but book blogs- those are sexy;), or certain real-life magazines make you feel less-than-stellar, just don’t read them. Especially if you're tired! Don’t subscribe to them! Let the subscription wear out. You’ll thank me! Do something that doesn’t fill you with envy, feelings of being less-than, or temptations to greed or lust after material possessions instead. Get out for a breath of fresh air. Read a good book. Have some iced tea and check the weather. And stop feeling less than other people. Taking care of your own personal sense of self-worth is good for marriage! Believe it!
Offer Words of Praise.
Offering words of praise, and actions of praise, is a way of comforting your spouse. To quote 2 Cor. 1:3-4 says, "Blessed be God who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them, which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God." In other words, we are people of faith, which means, in our marriage, God comforts us, and we can, in turn, offer that peace to each other. Here is a practical step: take a minute to write on an index card five ways you could praise your spouse. Put them into action today! A little lift can do worlds of good.
Pray Together and Dream Together.
We have a tradition of doing "family meetings" in our marriage. We discuss our budget, offer each other strengths and weaknesses which is hard, but always fruitful, and take each other's prayer requests and then pray. For God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes (Rev. 21:4). This means that even when hard days come, looking to our Father through prayers and worship together can improve hope and peace. It can literally wipe tears from our eyes, when we stop and pray together. I'm sure you've heard the old adage: "The couple who prays together stays together." I can attest to this truth. It's not your charm, your beauty, or your sense of humor, or how many times you've traveled together that will save marriage. It isn't all of these other things- although the little gifts and the little words of encouragement help a whole lot. It is mutual faith and mutual trust in a power higher than ourselves, and a humble reliance on that help, that will save, preserve, and nurture marriage.
Another way to nurture marriage when you're tired is to take some time to dream together. It helps lift you out of your own world, and gives you something to look forward to. Imagine the home you will buy in 10 years. Imagine a wonderful vacation you or your family could share together. Imagine your family getting a new pet. This is such a fun way that my husband and I bond with each other. Getting excited and having good conversation is at the heart of a good marriage.
Adding my link to Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum today.