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The Marriage Monday theme this month is Girl Talk: Talking to our daughters about love.
I've found this timely this week. Saturday night, German and I had a very rare date night planned. We have not been able due to scheduling commitments and baby sitting issues to have regular "dates" and when we have gone out, we have not necessarily called them dates. Jewel has been fascinated as Mommy and Daddy planned for their date night. She has asked what a date is and why you still need dates once you are married. I've answered as much as I can for a seven year old to understand. She finally summed it all up the other night by saying "so you are a better mommy and daddy when you have time to talk together." I actually think that is a pretty good summation.
That is one of the first things I hope that I communicate about loving your spouse--it takes time and work to keep it strong. We can have a good marriage within the busyness of life. However, with some effort to have alone time to talk, dream, or even vent we can take the good and make it great. I want them to understand that no relationship just happens--we must invest in the other person to grow the relationship.
Furthermore, I want them to hear from me, and see in our marriage, that love is about choosing what is best for the other person even when we don't feel the right "emotion." I want them to see it in the way their daddy and I meet each other's needs. But I also want them to hear it. We all have days that we find it hard to "feel" loving. When that happens, I want us to be honest about how hard it is to choose to love. There are times when we have had a hard day of boundary pushing that as I put Jewel to bed she will apologize for behavior and she will often ask "do you still love me?" I always make a point to not only accept the apology (and apologize when necessary) but to also remind her that no matter the behavior I will always choose to love her and that we will start over on the behavior the next day. Mirroring how to choose to love begins those life-long lessons.
Communicating about love from God's perspective instead of the world's perspective is challenging. I am fully aware that some of this is learned from the Bible verses that we are learning, but more is learned from watching their daddy and me. I can teach them that "Love is patient" all day but if I am always impatient with them or with German, they will have learned the wrong lesson. They will learn more about forgiveness and loyalty and steadfastness from watching us than from lectures from us. I pray that the lessons that they are seeing match the things I tell them.
Today they are four and seven, so "girl talk" around our house is quite general. My main goal at this time is to provide an atmosphere that is right for the talk to come naturally. If I lay this foundation firmly, then the talks of the future should be natural as well.
Just in closing, because sometimes it is easier to see what we don't want instead of what we do, I want to comment on what not to have part of my "girl talk" with my daughters. As I look back, I recall no time that my mom talked with me about falling in love with my dad, planning her wedding (there is one anecdote I know of their wedding day), dreaming for the future with my dad or anything of that sort. Instead, I heard all the things that made her unhappy both in life and in marriage. I always knew that she was disappointed with how things were. Although I recall conversations of the the "mechanics" of growing up there were none of the emotional aspects of being with someone else. That is not the memory I want my girls to recall. I want them to recall their dad and I reliving our dating days, our wedding, and the things we loved about those giddy times. I want them to see us sitting and dreaming of our future. I want them to see us holding hands and kissing and blushing from things that are whispered in ears. I want them to see love between us as well as us talk about it. That is why last week was so much fun--even before the date--because I was able to answer the questions of "why date?" which were followed by "what other dates have you done?" I told them about eagle watching with their daddy. They have heard about the hot air balloon ride, and now it can be put in the context of dating and falling in love. Their interest in our relationship provided natural opportunities to talk. And natural talk is the best kind of girl talk.
Please join the Marriage Monday group over at Chrysalis. You are sure to be blessed. I'm, personally, hoping to glean from those whose daughters are older some ideas for future girl talks around here. Now, I'm off to enjoy my holiday Monday (we have ours a week before you guys in the States). Have a lovely day!