Tuesday, September 1, 2015

10 Practical Tips for Putting Your Husband First

     Articles abound today on the topic of putting your husband first. On the one hand you have the sad, misinformed, unfortunate articles which speak to the idea that your kids come first and that's just the way it has to be when they're young. On the flip side you have the very helpful, spot-on articles which speak to the fact that we, as wives, ought always to put our husbands first, and in so doing, provide a foundation of security for our children. Not many articles, though, exist on the topic of HOW to make this happen. How, practically speaking, do we put our husbands first in the midst of daily demands, duties, and deadlines? What is the mantra of "putting your husband first" supposed to look like when you, as a wife and mama, are in the thick of dirty diapers, temper tantrums, loads and loads of laundry, cooking duties, cleaning schedules, and the like? Here are a few practical tips which I hope will help to paint a picture for you of what this could look like in your own home, and how you can express, in a tangible, visible way, that your husband comes first on your list of importance and priority (second only to God, of course!).

10 Practical Tips for Putting Your Husband First

  • Defer to him in the area of parenting.

In some ways, this tip will be the most controversial, but perhaps also the most important, so we'll start here. As Mamas, particularly if we are stay-at-home Mamas, we are largely responsible for the majority of the childcare day in and day out. As such, we research what is best for our kids on a multitude of topics from co-sleeping, vaccinations, and breastfeeding to what kind of diapers to use, how to handle tantrums, and how to enforce obedience and discipline disobedience. Because of this, combined with our "motherly instincts", we can quickly adopt the idea that we know way more than our husbands when it comes to the rights and wrongs of child-rearing. And perhaps, in some areas, this is true! However, this does not do away with the command God gave us as wives to submit to our husbands in all things (Ephesians 5:22, Colossians 3:18). It clearly states "in all things", not just in the areas where you believe your husband is more wise than you or more knowledgeable or more capable of making an informed decision. No, unless our husbands are calling us to sin in some way, we are to submit to them in all areas of our lives, and this includes parenting decisions! I'll never forget the day I came across an article, the title of which stated that your 3 year old would benefit from still sleeping in your bed, and that your husband would just have to get over it. Ummm, excuse me, no he does not (this would be a sure-fire way to make him susceptible to temptation, by the way!). There may be perks to co-sleeping with your baby, but if at any time your husband is over it and ready to have his wife and his bed back, it is up to you as his wife to submit to him in that! When our daughter, Anna, was born, we bought a little baby bed for her that was made to put in our bed, so she slept in that for the first 6 weeks. She was in bed with us and close to us, but was kept safe from us rolling over onto her, etc. As the weeks went by, it became clear to me, though he didn't say a whole lot on the topic and never forced it, that Owen was ready for us to have our bed back. So, as hard and sentimental as it was at first, I decided when she was 6 weeks old that we really needed to move her from our bed into her cradle that was beside our bed. We did that, and though I was a little emotional about it that first night, it was such a blessing! It brought Owen and I closer together again, and we were able to enjoy actually sleeping beside each other again and not separated by a baby bed in between us! If you and your husband together have made the decision to co-sleep, fine! Go for it! But if it is something you want and your husband does not, it's time to make a change. Another practical application of this would be in the area of vaccinations. I am staunchly against vaccines and have decided, together with my husband and his blessing, not to have our daughter vaccinated. But here's the thing-if my husband woke up tomorrow morning with the overwhelming feeling that we should vaccinate Anna, it would be up to me to (after respectfully presenting my case, asking about the option for a delayed schedule, etc.) schedule the appointment for the vaccinations. I pray we would never face a hard disagreement and hard decision like that, but if we did, it would be up to me to trust my husband's decision, the Lord's leading of him, and the role God gave to me to submit to my husband's leadership. There is nothing wrong with sharing our parenting knowledge with our husbands when they disagree with us, sharing why we feel strongly the way we do, etc. But at the end of the day, the responsibility to lead the family rests with our husbands and the responsibility to submit rests with us.

  • Have regular date nights.
This is so, so important! Our daughter was born on January 11 of this year, and two months later, our first anniversary was fast approaching. It was obvious my husband wanted to take me out to celebrate, and I definitely wanted to go! It would be the first date we had had since having our daughter, and would be such a special occasion for us to celebrate. But as much as I wanted to go, New Mommy thoughts kept running through my head, Is this ok? Is it ok for me to leave my young daughter with someone else so that I can go out with my husband? It wasn't long and I realized that not only was there nothing wrong with going, but that it would be a very good thing for me to go! That night, that special time to get away and celebrate our marriage, was such a blessing and we decided then and there that we needed that! We made the decision to be intentional about having regular date nights and, for us, that meant once a month. So, now, once a month we leave Anna and all her accoutrements with her grandparents, aunt and uncle, or close family friend, and Owen and I leave on our pre-planned out date, and love every minute of it! I cannot encourage you enough to do the same! Depending on what stage of marriage and parenting you are in, this may mean once a week, once a month, or once a quarter. But whatever it is, plan it, mark the calendar, and do what you have to do to make it happen! If you don't have family close by to babysit your little ones, perhaps "barter" with friends from church-have them watch your kids so you can go out and then watch their kids another day so they can go out. Whatever it is you have to do, be intentional and do your best to do it. Also remember to make dates out of your time at home! Regularly make a habit of getting the kiddos to bed early so that you can have some much-needed couple time. Remember-your marriage is to come first, regardless of what stage of parenting you are in. Actively and intentionally keeping your marriage first will not only benefit you and your spouse, but will provide a sure, secure environment for your children to grow up in. We as Mamas and Daddies are to be leading our children by example and they need to be able to look at us and know that when they grow up and get married, they ought always to put their spouse and marriage first.

  • Seek his preferences as to your list of priorities.

Mamas have so much on their to-do lists-everything from childcare to cooking to laundry to cleaning to grocery shopping and menu planning tends to fall on their shoulders (though I must say here that I have an amazing husband who steps in and gets things done when he can tell I need help; he's a blessing!). With all the tasks that can take up our time, energy, and attention on any given day, it can seem impossible to, practically-speaking, keep our husbands first. But here is one great way to do that, one which I implemented with my own husband just the other day:

  1. Make a list of all the things you have to do on any given day/week (i.e. laundry, cooking, childcare)
  2. Show your husband the list and ask him to prioritize those things in order from most important to him to least important (i.e. Does he want a home-cooked meal each evening? Does he want you to be a couponer? Does he appreciate ironed shirts? Does he want you to be the one to do the dishes?, etc.) 
  3. Follow through!
Doing this will free your time up from those things which you thought important for you to do or which you thought he expected of you, to where you can instead focus on what would truly bless him the most, and in the end, likely have more free time than you expected! This will be a double blessing to your husband, for it will show him that you care about his preferences and will also leave you with more time to devote to him!

  • Make his homecoming at the end of each day something special.

I don't know about you, but I can fall into the trap of shouting the "Hello, honey!" from across the room or down the hall when my husband gets home. But let's be intentional in making our homes a place of haven and rest for our husbands, so that they are itching to get home at the end of the day. We can do so, in part, by doing our best to daily stop what we were doing when they got home and greet our men at the door with open arms, a joyful smile, an inviting kiss, and the knowledge that we love and adore them, have missed them, and are thrilled they have returned home. Also, perhaps train your children to expect you to receive the first few moments of Daddy's undivided attention upon his return home. Train them to give that to you and then they can bombard him with hugs and kisses of their own afterwards. All the while, you will, again, be training your children to know what a marriage should look like.

  • Train your kids to honor their Daddy.

Again, we lead by example. We train by example. So, honor your husband and in so doing, train your children to honor him. Make it clear, gently, lovingly, and kindly, that the world does not revolve around them. Instead help them to focus on Daddy and to brainstorm ways in which they, too, can show their love, honor, and esteem for him. This will bless your husband and show him that he is important to you and to the kids-that the home does not revolve around the children and their desires foremost. 

  • Learn all you can about his likes and dislikes. 

What is your husband's favorite meal? His favorite drink? His favorite dessert? His favorite music? His favorite way to take his coffee? Do you know? If not, ask him! If so, make them for him, have that music playing when he gets home, etc. What are his least favorite foods? Don't make a habit to cook them! ;) I love water chestnuts, but they make my husband sick at the thought of them. So, as much as I love them, I refrain from using them in my cooking. This is a simple little thing, but it can speak volumes of love and my husband's importance in my eyes! Make it a habit to study your husband and know how he feels about things.

  • Ask his opinions; don't rush ahead of him!

As women, we tend to have our own plans, things we want to do, places we want to go, etc. And there is nothing wrong with that. But we need to make it a habit to seek our husband's opinion and advice on these things and not race ahead of him. We need to take into account our husband's own plans and desires, too! 

  • Rest when you can so you will feel refreshed when he comes home.

This largely goes along with asking your husband about your priorities, but it bears repeating. Take time to be intentional about getting rest during the day if you need it. Women have so much to do during the day, that it can be easy to have our energy zapped by it all, to where we don't have much energy left for our husbands at the end of the day. It shouldn't be this way, though! Our husbands should never come in second to our to-do lists (unless, of course, it's a list of things he wants us to do!). So, take time to nap when the kids nap or rest a bit while they play, so that you can feel more refreshed when your husband comes home. 

  • Let him know he's on your mind.

Let him know that, even among the busyness that is your daily life, he is on your mind. Text him little flirty notes, include love notes to him in his lunch bag, etc. Never let him doubt that he is important to you and that you love him and think about him often!

  • Brainstorm ways to be a better helper, even more suitable to your unique husband.

We as women were created to be helpmeets to our husbands. That's one of the reasons why it is so sad when I see women placing motherhood and their children ahead of marriage and their husbands. Motherhood is important and children are a blessing, but I think sometimes we, especially in homeschooling circles, place the truth that children are a blessing so far in the forefront of our minds that we can tend to forget that we were not first and foremost created to be mothers. That was not the reasoning behind the Lord's creating us. No, first and foremost the reason God created us was in order to provide our husbands with a helper (Genesis 2:18, 1 Corinthians 11:9). We need to remember this. We also need to remember, though, that there is no one-size-fits-all method for how, specifically, to do this. There are helpful, practical tips and principles that each couple across the board can follow and implement, but the exact way in which they implement them will look different sometimes, and that is ok! The main thing is that we, as wives, place our husbands and our role as helpmeet first. But how that looks in each individual marriage is going to be different, because the needs of each husband are as diverse as their looks. I love how Genesis 2:18 is worded. Depending on the version you're reading, it may say, "a help meet for him" or "suitable for him". In other words, you need to be the helpmate your particular husband needs you to be. You need to be meet for him or suitable for him uniquely. That's why it is important to study your own husband and learn what he does and does not need and want and prefer. Make it your mission to be a student of your husband and learn all you can about him as you go through marriage. This practice will reap many blessings for your whole family!

In Conclusion

     I hope this article has been helpful for you. Please understand that it is perfectly normal for things to look a little different depending on the phase in life you are in (i.e. if you have a newborn who needs to eat often, you may not get dinner for your husband on the table every night right at 6pm, and that's ok!). It's a heart-thing first and foremost. Where is your heart? Does it desire to put your husband first and make him feel like the most important person in your world? Then take that wonderful desire and apply it as best you can in your current season of life. You, your husband, and your children will be glad you did! 

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