I recently read a post on the Gospel Coalition website by Gavin Ortlund, “10 Ways to Grow Your Marriage While Having Young Kids.” It was a pretty helpful post all around. Check it out if you get the chance.
There were two things in particular I was reminded of as I reflected on the article. First, I have a tendency to read things like this and use it as a checklist to see if I measure up to what I expect of a husband and father. I don’t think I’m alone. We all have a little Pharisee in us wanting to compare ourselves with others and thinking that what we do somehow justifies us before God, as if my meager efforts to do what is right are what makes me acceptable to God. When I get to thinking like this, which is far more often than I would like to admit, I have to remind myself (or is it the Holy Spirit that does this) that what makes me acceptable in the sight of God are not any of my works, even those things I may do with the right motives and in God’s strength, but the meritorious work of Christ on my behalf.
Second, my current season in life means adjusting my thinking about my role as a husband. There are some things, regardless of my season of life that I should be about doing as a husband, like praying for and with my wife, and finding ways to help her grow in Christlikeness. But even these things will look different depending on our circumstances. Right now we have two young girls (5 and 4). After they go to bed, we are tired. I don’t have the grey cells to spend the evening reading and discussing a book on Christian doctrine with my wife. What I do have time for though, is to take 5 to 10 minutes to ask her if there is anything she would like for me to prayer with her for, and then do it. Again, I don’t do this as often as I should like, but I still try to make an effort and do it. The point is, what we should expect of ourselves, and I think what the Lord probably expects of us, differs based on our current season of life. How I love my wife and girls will look different 10 years from now. My girls will be older, as will my wife and I. We will hopefully be wiser and further in our walk with Christ then than we are at this moment. What will be required of us will be different, will be greater, and it should be.
So if you’re married with young kids, cut yourself some slack. You expect way more from yourself than others do. Take a breath, relax, and enjoy your spouse and kids. Time is short and life is precious.