Tuesday, December 10, 2013

"Sometimes, It's More About the Two of You..."

Yes, it's been awhile...and yes, I was planning on writing about confrontation in marriage, but first...

It's been a crazy few weeks.  About two weeks ago, our two year old decided to go on a sleep strike.  We spent 6 straight nights listening to him cry for literally HOURS, trying a million different tactics (rocking him, ignoring him, sitting in the rocking chair next to the crib, leaving the door open, giving him Motrin in case it was teething issues, putting him in a pack n play in our bedroom, putting him in our bed, etc), and then walking around like zombies trying to take care of everyone.  Only to have the toddler refuse to take naps as well.  

A child not sleeping is extremely stressful.  After days and days of a kid crying, you start to feel like you're going insane. 

The first two nights, our marriage was rockin' and rollin'; we were laughing in the middle of the night, passing the time listening to crying while having great conversation, taking turns calming the kid down.  And then suddenly we were fighting in the middle of the night and he was sleeping in the guest room with Little Adoratrouble.  I laid alone in bed crying and wondering what in the world God wanted us to learn from this particular parenting challenge.  On Sunday morning, we barely made it to church; we were bickering and irritable and mad at the whole situation.  

We made it to our learning center class (on Paul Tripp's book Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands - about personal ministry in helping others change.) and sat with an older couple that we barely knew to discuss the homework (that we hadn't completed...full disclosure).  As we were sitting there talking about where our closest ministry opportunities are and how that opportunity is usually within our own homes, our frustration started spilling out and we shared about how we were having a hard time with the toddler not sleeping.  The husband listened for a few minutes....the wife sympathized...and then the husband very shrewdly cocked his head and answered the question I had been pondering at 2am: "Sometimes, it's more about the two of you than what's actually going on."  

That hit me like a ton of bricks.  That man, who barely knew us, who didn't even really know how much we had been arguing about what to do about Adoratrouble hit the nail on the head.  Maybe the larger purpose behind this sleep battle didn't really have anything to do with sleeping or parenting.  Maybe it had to do with how he and I were keeping our marriage prioritized and how he and I were working together.  

The man went on.  "No matter what goes on, it's important that the two of you keep your eyes focused on the bigger picture of what's important in the long run and that's your marriage.  Someday those kids will be gone, but you two will still be in the same house together and if your marriage isn't first, you won't even know each other."

I spent the rest of the class and the church service trying not to cry.  Not because that man had upset me or challenged me, but because it was exactly what I needed to hear.  It felt like God was speaking through this man we barely knew to point us back in the right direction. 

Work together.  Take care of each other.  This too shall pass.  Don't get bitter towards each other about not sleeping.  Continue to enjoy each other even when you're tired.  Keep fighting!  

And at the end of the class, after we had all finished discussing the homework and watched the video of Tim Lane talking about confrontation, the wife reached out and touched my arm and sincerely said, "We'll be praying for you guys...tonight, when you're getting everyone in bed, we'll be praying for you."  And you know how sometimes you don't really believe that that person will actually be praying, but just think they're saying it because it's the "good Christian thing" to say?  Well, I'm pretty sure this woman was actually praying for us.  

Not that everything magically settled down that night...it took a few more nights of cry-it-out for Adoratrouble to get the picture that we're not sitting in his room rocking him for hours when there is nothing wrong with him (and don't send me emails condemning cry-it-out because if you haven't been there, you just don't know).  Dave decided he needed to take care of me and kicked me out of the house to sleep at his parents's house while he toughed it out (because somehow, guys can often sleep through the crying and the mom just can't.)  I let him take care of me and got one glorious night of sleep while Dave dealt with Adoratrouble's new tactic of stripping naked while screaming for a hour (and then smearing the contents of a diaper on the wall in the morning...)  The next day, he sent flowers and arranged a babysitter so we could have a date night.  

Sometimes, maintaining your friendship takes a whole heck of a lot of effort.  It takes fighting on what seems like such a small level through hard things - non-sleeping children, misbehaving children, wayward children, financial stresses, illness, job loss, broken down appliances (oh yes, and both our heating units decided to not work at the exact same time during the sleep strike - hooray!).  And sometimes, we need to remember that no matter what happens with all those tough situations, our marriage can be a steady place, but only if we make it important.  Don't get weary.  Keep on keeping on.  



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Sharing with: Growing Home, Time Warp Wife, Wifey Wednesday, Deep Roots at Home, We Are THAT Family

16 comments:

  1. One of your wisest posts to date.

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  2. It HAS to be about your marriage being first, or nothing will work in the family. The children's job is to get ready to successfully leave you when it is appropriate. If THEY are the center of the family, they won't leave as scheduled, or they won't be ready to be a mature, godly adult because there will NEVER be another place where they will be the CENTER of the world. Little Adoratrouble just had several weeks of a hard but vital lesson: He is loved, BUT he is NOT the most important person in his family. Mommy and Daddy's relationship as husband and wife MUST be the most important relationship in the family for the family to work as God intended it to function.

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  3. Totally agree. It is sometimes hard to think that way when you have young kids whose needs are often more immediate than your own needs (or your spouses) but really, it is way more important for kids to know for sure that their parents love each other and are willing to stick it out together through hard times.

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  4. LOVED THIS…
    Love your open, honest heart.
    Love that an older couple was used by the Lord.
    Love the way you write.
    Love the way you think.
    Love your sweet husband.
    Did I mention I LOVED THIS POST?

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  5. Ah, bless your heart. One of my kids is a sleep fighter of the Jedi sort. Seriously, he excelled at fighting sleep like a laser-toting warrior. And more than once, I felt the sting of those sleepness nights. I love that you and your husband got such great advice, and that you two focus on being a team. I once heard that it matters less exactly which parenting approach you adopt than it does that parents adopt it together. I thought there was some wisdom in that.

    (And no, you didn't ask. And feel free to ignore this. But I went through the ringer on this topic, researched options, read books, try various approaches, etc. and finally found a book I SO WISH I'd read earlier in my kid's life: Healthy Sleep Habits, Healthy Child by Marc Weissbluth. In case you or anyone else wanted that recommendation. Blessings!)

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  6. So you're married to a Vulcan and you have a Jedi for a child? This sounds like an awesome family. :) Thanks for the book recommendation...I *think* I've paged through that at a friend's house (?) but I might check it out...the next oldest child also had some sleep issues but I think those were more of a night-terror variety. Maybe sometime in my life I'll sleep peacefully again...

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  7. POST WORTH THE WAIT!!! This is something I am aware of, but like you...it's VERY hard to remember it in the "heat" of any given situation. My hubby and I do not have children yet, but we are going through a journey that is tough and will be for about three years: he's in school and works full-time (not to mention he works overnight so I only get to sleep in bed with him for 2 nights out of the week), and that's really hard on our marriage sometime. It doesn't help that we are both stubborn and I'm a "Type A". I've got a mentor, and that's been incredibly helpful and I'm really trying to learn to even just appreciate my hubby BEING HIMSELF. She's given me great tips to learn how to "not nag" him and to trust him more (easier said than done). I appreciate this post because it's a good reminder that no matter WHAT...our marriage is more important than a stupid little thing that hurts or irks me when he doesn't mean it. I gotta be careful to not blow things up and be quicker to forgiveness and to continue to appreciate this season before we try to have kids.

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  8. Jacqueline@Deeprootsathome.comDecember 11, 2013 at 1:41 PM

    Elizabeth, I am so glad you reminded me about this wonderful book! I'm getting it for my niece and nephew who are having a terrible time with their 2 little ones. They are not saved in the Lord and don't believe in discipline. Please pray I will have wisdom. Hugs!

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  9. Teaching a
    2 year old a lesson by abandonment is absolutely insane. He OBVIOUSLY needed
    something or he would not be TRYING to communicate with you. I only hope that
    when you are quite old and unable to communicate properly he leaves YOU to CIO
    alone and in the dark…and PS you CHOSE to have kids. They did not ASK to be
    born. THEIR NEEDS ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN YOURS! Get over yourself.

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  10. I think you misread Elizabeth's post.

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  11. Just have to say a big kudos to Dave for his ensuring that you got much-deserved/needed rest and recoup time! That's what husbands and fathers are made of (can't speak from experience; just know it's right).



    BTW, the next time you're weary with Adoratrouble, just remember that (when he's grown) you can get revenge on him by telling him, in great detail, how he "earned" his *ahem* endearing nickname. But just make sure he knows he's still loved when you're done. :)

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  12. P.S. I think you should try filing for a copyright on "Adoratrouble". ;^D

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  13. Elizabeth@Warrior WivesDecember 12, 2013 at 3:24 PM

    Oh, I will ABSOLUTELY get revenge on him with that story when he is grown-up!

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  14. Wow. Agreed with Poorsilas. VERY misread. And a two year old knows how to manipulate quite a bit. IF you would of read her post, you would of seen how they had tried everything and but, alas, there was nothing wrong or needed other than him not wanting to go to bed (probably wanting to have more fun awake...spend more time doing other things...that's a "WANT" not a need). I support what they did.

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