Matt and I celebrated 30 years of marriage on May 24, 2022.
30 Years. It is hard to believe. But, one thing I know is days can seem long and years seem short.
In 30 years, we have:
We had and homeschooled 3 kids, and now we are Happy Nesters (empty nesters sound sad).
We started a church 23 years ago and are still at it.
We have succeeded at some things and failed at some things.
We have traveled.
We lived through 2020 when we were forced to stay home.
We have had so many experiences.
So as I look back, there are a couple of things I would like to say to you, no matter if you have been married a short time or if you have been married a long time.
1. The first place you lead is in your home
If you can lead in your home, you can lead anywhere.
Leadership is influence—nothing more and nothing less. You either are influencing for good or for bad. You will influence and lead your spouse. If you are the husband or the wife, you will lead each other at different times.
You will also lead your kids. You will influence them towards healthy communication and listening and sharing in a healthy or unhealthy way. So it all depends on how you lead.
If you can learn how to communicate and put systems and habits at home, that will overflow into the workplace.
If you can handle a budget at home, that will overflow into the workplace.
If you can handle conflict at home, that will overflow into the workplace.
See, you take you with you wherever you go. If you lead well at home, you will lead well at the workplace. People will put up with you at work if you are a bad leader to keep their job. However, at home, they will talk back and avoid and get angry and rebellious, and when the time comes, they will leave.
And if not careful, you will be drawn to work because it can be easier just to get the job done, whereas, at home, it will take time and effort and learning and listening and understanding and all the things that can be hard.
So make the decision that you will do whatever it takes to lead your home well.
This leads me to the second thing I would tell you.
2. Have a vision for your family and a vision for each year
We teach this all the time in leadership but overlook it when it comes to our family.
When you are a Happy Nester, and your kids are grown, married, and have kids of their own, what do you want your family to look like?
Do you want to be in a good relationship with your kids and their spouses?
Do you want to have good communication in your family?
Do you want to be heard and seen and hear and see each other?
Do you want to be able to talk about Jesus and pray together, and it not be awkward?
Do you want your kids to go to church and serve in the church?
How much time do you want your kids on social media?
When will they get a phone?
Do you want to be able to agree to disagree and still honor and love one another?
Do you want to laugh, have fun, play games, and vacation together?
It starts with a vision for what you want your family to look like. Then you will make decisions based on that vision. If you want to be comfortable praying together and talking about spiritual things, it starts when they are young. If you want healthy communication and sharing in your family, you have to learn it, do it, and teach your kids. Whatever your vision is, start incorporating it when they are young. It doesn’t just happen.
Then I also say have a vision for each year, which will be guided by the bigger overarching vision.
For example, we wanted our kids to have a world view of missions and making a difference in the world. So our yearly vision was to take them on a family mission trip. We went to Swaziland, Africa.
What things is your family strong in and doing well, and where does your family need some work? Don't ignore it if you are starting to see some hurt in your kids. Maybe this is the year to do some family counseling to help everyone learn how to communicate.
At what age do you want your kids to help with household chores and responsibilities?
At what age do you want your kids to cook meals?
Do you have a vision for a garden so your kids can learn to grow their own food?
You may have a vision that your family will be home 4 out of 7 nights. That will impact your schedule. How can you connect with people and talk and share if you are also running around?
So many things to think through and make sure you and your spouse are on the same page. But it is worth it.
This leads me to the 3rd thing I would tell you.
3. Habits and consistency are needed but can feel mundane and boring
For example, since 2020, I have been working out M-W-F at 6 am almost every week. It is not exciting. I don’t always want to do it. Sometimes it is an inconvenience, and sometimes I want to do something different, but I just keep going because I know it is good for my physical and emotional health, which impacts my spiritual health.
Having family devotions 5 out of 7 days or 4 out of 7 days over the years can seem like an inconvenience, boring, not exciting, and not wanting to do it all the time. Still, the habit and consistency will benefit your family in so many ways.
Training your kids and teaching them things repeatedly and following up and showing them again and letting them do it can be hard, frustrating, and inconvenient, and you just want to do it yourself, etc., but in the end, it will be a lifetime benefit for them and you.
You need to decide about the things you want to do over a lifespan with your kids while they are in your house. What things do you want the first and last kids to experience? And things should not taper off because you get tired or bored of doing it.
The training will change as they get older, but what are the things that need to be habits in your family, and what things do you need to be consistent with throughout your kid's life in your home.
If I could go back in time and do it over, these are 3 things I would focus on even more. Some we did really well for a while but got tired, sloppy, lost vision, and stopped some of the things.
There were some areas Matt, and I needed to be working on more. For example, we needed to be more consistent with books, conferences, and growth in our home and not just in the church.
Here are two resources I highly recommend:
Matt and I did this for years but got distracted and stopped. We will be picking it up again. :)
This is great even for families with grown kids.
So it is never too late to start improving and working on relationships in your family. But of course, the one you always start with first is yourself. I’ll write about that another time. :)
Cheering you on - Martha