[notice]A fortnightly column on marriage, family and relationships.[/notice]
Anything of value in life requires some level of sacrifice; some level of letting go of the comfortable. We should be willing to sacrifice going without for a short while so we can benefit from something more valuable in the long term. Successful relationships require and involve sacrifices. We all want a happy marriage and a happy family. Below are areas that I have observed that can cause conflict in a marriage and a family if they are not kept in check.
So many of us spend long periods of time on social media; we are constantly opening our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts to keep up with our countless friends and the happening of the day. We are constantly uploading pictures, writing our status, commenting on our friends’posts, constantly in chat rooms — all at the expense of our families. We delay attending to our responsibilities at home because we are on social media. It is not a necessarily a sin to be using these modern media platforms but it is a problem when they take us away from time with our loved ones. It is a problem when we start neglecting our spouses and children.
When you get married somehow you have to sacrifice having too many friends. You can do with one or two close friends because you can’t constantly be with your husband. That’s not healthy to do. It is unfair on your spouse to be neglected because you are constantly going out with this friend this evening and tomorrow night you are going out with that one. You are attending to the family problems of this and the other friend. You can be overly involved in the lives of your friends and the lives of their families while neglecting your own. There has to come a point where you realise that you have a spouse who needs you; your presence and attention. The time that you have as a married spouse is not only your time you have to cater to the needs and the wants of your family.
As Christians sometimes it looks ok if we are overly committed at church and it can seriously boost our ego because we think that we are doing so much for God. We have to guard against doing so much that we do not have time to spend with our families. Many pastor’s kids when they grow do not want to be pastors and some do not to have anything to do with Christianity because “I never knew my dad when I was growing up. He was ALWAYS at church”. Pastor’s wives who divorce their husband mention this as a problem that ultimately led to them filing for divorce…they were last on their husband’s list. The husband attended to the needs of everyone else except her and the kids. Yes, God has called you to the ministry but the first church that God has called you to, is your family.
Watching too many soapies! Women are guilty of this one. Do you really need to watch all the soapies every night? Do you really need to follow what the character A is doing with character B on every soapie in every channel? Do you need to watch every drama series and reality show? There was a time when I was addicted to this particular soapie and I would cook for the family but when it came time for this soapie to be on screen I would literally leave the table to go and watch it. This went on for some time until I didn’t enjoy watching it anymore. The Holy Spirit convicted me of my growing obsession with wanting to keep up with the happenings of that soapie and I finally had to make a decision to stop watching it. I am happy to say, it has been more than two years since I stopped watching it and my dinner times are far richer for it. You do not need to be watching every single drama series and soapie. You do not need to know what the reality stars are wearing; what their eating; where they are going. You really do not need to know every single detail of their life. Life carries on…your life and the lives of your loved ones.
Time with Family! Johnny needs you to go to a soccer match and you are constantly not available. Although you are working hard for them you need to somehow rearrange your life so you can go to some of little Johnny’s soccer matches because unfortunately to little Johnny your absence speaks of neglect; “my father does not love me”. “Everyone’s dad is here except mine”. Birthdays, your anniversary, important dates in your family’s calendar. Make a priority, if it is at all possible, that you are available to spend these very special days with your family. We have heard so many adults who look back at their childhood and say: “My dad was never there for my birthday”
Let us be honest with ourselves. We do not need to have all the latest gadgets. Ladies you do not need to follow all the latest trends and buy clothes every month. You really do not need to have that shoe that you saw in the fashion catalogue. Beloved husbands, those latest gadgets are things we really can do without. I understand that you want to play golf but golf clubs are expensive.
The lifestyle! With all the reality shows that are on most channels the pressure is on to keep up with Joneses. If your wallet really cannot match and keep up with your neighbour’s lifestyle, let go of the dream for now and concentrate on what is really important in your life.
The dream holiday that you really want to go on; you might need to sacrifice it if it will get you in debt. Yes, your friend has gone to Mauritius and the Seychelles and is planning a trip to Mozambique this December. If you cannot afford that trip at this present time you will need to think of how you can sacrifice going with your friend on that cruise to Mozambique while you save to go maybe in two years’ time. What you want is to still be enjoying your life and not get your family into debt to fulfill a temporary want that will lead to long term suffering for your family.
If you are planning to pursue further studies while already married this decision is not to be taken likely as it will affect your time as a family. This goes for accepting a promotion at work that will involve late nights; more going away from home. Discuss this with your spouse to see first if you should pursue your studies or if you should take the promotion. Discuss possible ways moving forward that you will spend time together so your marriage does not suffer and your children don’t feel neglected.
You do not always have to have your own way all the time. Your choice of movies! Your choice of concert to go to! Your choice of television viewing! Sometime it is an act of love to just willingly, without being asked watch a game of whatever sport your husband loves. Sometimes husbands it is really ok to go shopping with your wife. I know a lot of husbands had to read that twice as they REALLY hate going shopping with their wives because it can be TIME CONSUMING. It is an act of love gentlemen. IT IS AN OF LOVE. She will thank you later.
There are some very big sacrifices that in the course of your marriage you might be required to make as a family; moving to another city; moving to another country; cutting down on your spending; downgrading your lifestyle by selling your home and moving to a smaller home; giving up your dreams and studies to take care of your family; giving up being in ministry fulltime to go work in a corporate environment because of the needs and wants of your family.
There are many parents, especially mothers who are making the decision to be at home to take care of their young ones while they are growing up, especially in their first years of life. This is not a decision to be taken lightly as you would miss out on adult conversations, the thrill of meeting a deadline, the sense of accomplishment at meeting your targets at works. You have to be content with your decision so you do not take out a potential resentment out on your husband and children. There are many mothers out there with unfulfilled dreams who sacrificed pursuing their passions and careers for their children and their marriages. If you have made this sacrifice and are feeling that life is passing you by when your friends seems to be achieving so much in life, take some time for yourself and go over why you made the decision in the first place. If that decision is being fulfilled or has been fulfilled ask yourself realistically how would you feel if you went back to work and had the stresses that your friends have? Would it be worth it? See if you can have a part time job that you can go to when your children are at school and be at home with them when they come back from school. Talk these possibilities out with your husband. You do not want to be resentful when you are supposed to be fully there for your children.
Relationships are blessings. To have people in our lives who we love and who love us is a blessing that should not be taken lightly and taken for granted. Let us nurture and truly prioritise the people in our lives.
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