Wednesday, August 5, 2009

From One Young Mother to Another

I often think that I, as a young wife and mother, should have little to offer when it comes to sharing mothering/marriage/life advice. I haven't lived long enough, done enough, mothered enough, been married long enough to really have any profound or life-changing advice to share with anyone.

And, I think there's something to be said for that. Exercise prudence. Embody humility. Don't pretend to be a know-it-all when you're really just a "newbie".

"Newbies" eat bowls and plates full of their words. I've eaten bellies full of them myself.

But, you know, when I read blogs or magazine articles or other writings of other young mothers who are in the trenches with me, I often find that their wisdom, their advice, their view of life affects me in tangible ways that I can apply now. Immediately. And, somehow, knowing that I'm not alone - that someone who is walking in my same style of shoe understands me - provides deep encouragement to my soul.

So, in that spirit, the spirit of sharing with fellow young mothers who, like me, currently sport comfy sneakers instead of stilettos, there are two pieces of marriage advice that I received many years ago that affect my daily life as a young wife and mother. And, though I'm a "newbie" wife and mother in comparison to many, these two life lessons have produced wonderful fruit in my marriage.

1. Give him 20 minutes.

When I was in college, I was a live-in nanny for three little girls. They were 3, 2, and 2 weeks old when I began living with and caring for them. Their Mom, Julie, was a stay-at-home Mom who didn't have any family in town and needed help since her husband was an obstetrician and worked crazy hours.

One day, as I remarked about how her husband always seemed so happy to see her at the end of the day, she responded, "I always give him 20 minutes."

"20 minutes?", I responded.

She continued. "When he walks in the door, I don't bombard him with the problems of my day, the struggles I've had with the girls, the things I want and NEED him to do. I give him time to hug the girls, change his clothes, grab a beer Coke, glance at the newspaper. I don't hand him the baby the minute he walks through the door because I'm just done and need a break. I give him 20 minutes before I indulge in unloading any of the problems of my day on him. And, he appreciates it."

I've never forgotten this conversation with Julie. And, for the last 5 years that I've been a mother, I have taken this advice to heart and I give my husband 20 minutes when he gets home before I ask anything of him. And, just like Julie's husband, Jason appreciates it so much. He thanks me regularly for it. And, he is relaxed and settled in, after having a few moments at home to transition his mind from work life to home life, to really be with us.

Give him 20 minutes. It isn't always easy. I have been standing at the stove, covered in spaghetti sauce with a baby strapped to me while two bare-bottomed toddlers pull tissues out of a tissue box when my husband has walked in the door. My mind is telling me, "Give him the baby, run like the wind, and go hide in the nearest closet." But, allowing my husband a few minutes to get his bearings before dumping my day on him - well, it's loving him. And, that's what I want to do.

It's what we all really want, isn't it?

2. Have sex with him.

Speaking of loving him, there's no simpler way to put it. Have sex with him.

This piece of marriage advice came from our pastor and pre-marital counselor and I remember him looking directly at me when he said it. He didn't say to my husband, "Have sex with her." He surely knew my soon-to-be husband didn't need it. His loving advice and counsel was intended for me. It made me snicker at the time. Because I had waited 5 years to marry this man that I loved so much, and I didn't foresee a lack of sex ever being an issue. Not in our marriage. No way.

And, then I became a mother. And, sleep deprivation, my clothes covered in baby carrots, greasy, unwashed, hair, and Cheerio crumbs down my bra became the norm. And, sex was the last thing on my mind.

(Except - and, I think it's important to note - when I wanted to procreate. Amazing how that drive will make a woman forget what she looks and feels like.)

But, I can tell you - it has never been the last thing on my husband's mind. And, I am amazed that year after year, this man, this husband of mine, loves me and wants to be intimate with a sleep deprived, baby carrot-painted, greasy-haired, Cheerio crumb-coated me. But, he does. And, he appreciates it so much when I make sex a priority in our marriage.

Just like giving him 20 minutes when he walks through the door, having sex at the end of a long day of mothering isn't always what I want to do. I'd be lying to you if I told you this one was easy for me all the time. But, when I take this advice to heart and lay aside myself for the good of my marriage and for the love of my husband, the rewards it reaps in my relationship with my husband, the closeness and open communication that it subsequently provides - well, it is unspeakably wonderful. And, so very worth the undertaking.

There they are - two bits of marriage wisdom from me - a Momma who's trying to love God, love my husband, and love my children the best that I can.


  1. I love this! And I'm do glad that Christian woman are will to talk about sex, particularly in there marriages. its such an intimate thing so personal, and so important. I did not wait to be married to have sex and part of that was I believed it should be saved for marriage, and that in a perfect World it would be so much better that way, but this was not a perfect world and people didn't actually have a life time of love making with their spouse and I want to experience as much of it as I could. It is my goal NOW to help other woman and particularly my daughter see that there is sex in marriage and its sooo much better to wait, you will not be missing anything.

  2. Sarah, two very good pieces of advice that all of us mothers can take and put to good use. Another one to go with the first one, is to take a minute or two to make yourself as presentable as possible for when he gets home. A brush through the hair, fresh lipstick or change of spit-upon shirt can make all the difference. For our husbands have been in the work force, with those stilleto healed, makeup in full force, dressed nicely show just a little concern for our appearance also can mean a lot for our husbands. Marc has smiled at me when I've remembered this and commented, "You look very nice tonight." That helps me with your second piece of advice! :D

  3. Thanks for your honest post. I don't have children, but I am married and I appreciate your advice. My husband and I also have a rule that we always look "presentable" in public. For me this means clean, cordinated clothing and a pair of earrings. When we go out, we are representing our marriage, not just ourselves.

  4. I'm glad you shared. Those are both great pieces of advice. I've been married almost 28 years and I need to be reminded of both of them

  5. Two great pieces of advice Sarah. I'm right with Kristy on #3 as well. I've never, no matter what my day, forgot to look at the clock to make sure that I didn't look half way decent when Dave walked through the door. I've always figured that he deserved to come home to a wife who cared enough to want to look good for him. I may have been home with 3 rugrats all day long and didn't hit the shower until right before he walked in the door, but he's always had a wife that wanted to look her best just for him :)...even after 30 years!

  6. This is an extremely beautiful post.

  7. I agree with you girls on looking presentable when he walks through the door. Great advice! I'm gonna work on that one!

  8. Its so amazing, you're one of the few bloggers i 'follow' that when you write a deep, important post, i am sucked in every second of it- i so relate to what you write, and i so admire you as a mother and wife, you seem like just the best!!!

    I needed this reminder, i've heard it a couple times before, but I really needed this, espescially today. We're in the moving process and some days its all i can do to even like him. but i espescially the first one, and maybe (i say this grudgingly lol) the second one will just make a huge difference, and coming from you, someone i admire (yet ironically don't even KNOW in person) i think i will take it to heart this time.

    thanks a million!!!

  9. Ahhh, Sarah, you are an awesome writer. This post was a great reminder for me. I needed this slap in the face. My trenches have been really deep lately and I've been taking more than I've been giving back. Blessings!

  10. great advice Sarah. I try to give Ron his time to unwind when he gets home from work. As you stated, it's not always easy.

  11. I would like to give you a man's point of view (Happily married for 17years). I read this blog because I love to cook. I think you are spot on with your 2 rules. We men are very easy to please (for the most part), and your rules really hit home with what we want. As Paul said to Timothy "Let no man despise thy youth." Even a newbie can be an encouragement to the seasoned veteran.

  12. Great post, and beautifully written.

  13. Great advice! I read once that sex for a husband is the equivalent of a good conversation for a wife. It's how husbands connect on a deep level with their wives. How would I feel if my husband decided not to talk to me because he was tired or had a rough day? I've never thought of it in the same way again.

  14. Good advice and well stated. You are qualified.

  15. Beautifully said Sarah. Truths that I know and try to apply, but must confess could def use the friendly reminder on. Thanks girlie... I appreciate you and your blogging so much!!

  16. SO true. and i'd venture to say that consistently following those two pieces of advice may eliminate the need for any other advice.

  17. Hey! Just wanted to let you know - I LOVED this post. Thanks! You have no idea how much I love posts like this. They mean a lot. And, they are helpful.

  18. well, newbie... i just read all the comments and i think you need to bump yourself up to a more experienced level =) both points are great pieces of advice that all of us can take to heart.

    and speaking of heart, thanks for sharing yours and so eloquently.

  19. great advice sarah. not always easy to follow but so so true. i need to be better about both of those things. i will say number one is much easier than number two for me but i need to "just do it" more often for my husband. sometimes by the time you have been touched all day long you just want to be left alone. i know it is important and i need to be selfless instead of selfish. thanks for sharing.