Today’s guests are Patrick & Ruth Schwenk.
When we take a road trip, we almost always judge pit stops by whether or not there is a Starbucks. It’s the perfect combination. We refuel the car and refuel ourselves with caffeine (which inevitably leads to additional rest stops for, shall we say, relief).
Major highways and especially interstates always tell us well in advance how many miles we have left before we reach the next rest stop or exit. These signs let us pace ourselves, telling us when and where to go…before it’s too late!
The truth is, as families we could use some of those designated “rest stops” in our everyday lives.
Consequently, parenting doesn’t come with rest areas or signs that direct us to refueling stops.
However, God designed the job of parenting to come with an intimate partner who joins us on the journey, who watches our back and protects us from running on empty. We can help one another take that next rest stop. We can help provide the fuel our spouse really needs.
Here are 3 specific ways we can bring rest and relief to each other.
Learn To Listen to Each Other’s Hearts
God desires for us to not only speak to each other in love but to listen to each other in love.
When we turn our ear toward our spouse, we are also turning our heart in love toward our spouse. We are attempting to deeply understand the words our spouse is saying.
When we’re caught in the rush of life with kids in the house, we need to learn to use our ears to draw our hearts closer to each other. This requires us to slow down long enough to find out what is really going on with our spouse.
By listening, we can discover how our spouse is really doing, where the greatest struggles are, and whether our spouse feels loved and respected in the midst of all the turmoil.
Seek God Together
There can be a lot of stress, anxiety, busyness, and fear in marriage and parenting. When those emotions are present within us, we often cling to Psalm 94:19:
“When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.”
The psalmist reminds us that there is a power greater than ourselves available to us. That power is God’s Word.
Like a little child, we need to be consoled with God’s truth, power, and the hope of his promises. His Word is the “bread” we can live on. We can count on it to sustain us. We need “every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4) to give us joy, rest, and peace when we are running on empty.
As a couple, we protect each other as we share the provision of God’s life-giving Word.
As a result, looking at God’s Word together helps us to stay centered. It keeps us focused on the right kind of marriage and the right mission. It gives us direction as we move forward in our marriage and as parents.
We refresh and renew each other as we seek God’s wisdom together.
Share Words That Keep You Going
Our words carry great power. They can heal or hurt. They truly do possess the potential for life or death (Proverbs 18:21). One of our favorite verses about our words reads,
“The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life” (Proverbs 15:4 [1984 NIV]).
As a couple, we want our words to bring life to each other.
Sometimes it takes only a word of truth, praise, or encouragement to preserve life for our spouse.
All day long, energy is being drained from us. We get emotionally and spiritually beat up just from the daily process of life—working to provide for our family, sacrificing our needs for our family, and dealing with everyday stress.
So, we take hits from the outside, but we also take hits from the inside. We sometimes experience mental and emotional fatigue because we believe the ever- present lies about who we are as a husband, father, wife, or mother.
Words Have Power
Whenever we feel insecure or inadequate, we burn more fuel. What we need in each other is an advocate who restores us with words of life and healing.
Our words can be a great source of rest, strength, and power to keep us both going. One of the greatest ways to keep a vow to love your spouse with kids in the house is learning to refuel one another…to help bring rest to one another.
In which areas of marriage or parenting are you struggling most right now? In what ways do you need your spouse to come alongside and help carry the burden for you?
Patrick and Ruth Schwenk
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Patrick Schwenk is a husband, father, and pastor. Ruth Schwenk is a wife, mom, and blogger. She and her husband are the creators of FortheFamily.org and TheBetterMom.com. Patrick and Ruth have been married for more than seventeen years, have four children, and have been in full-time ministry for over fifteen years. Their first book together, For Better or For Kids: A Vow to Love Your Spouse with Kids in the House just released!
At some point, a loving, hopeful, and energetic married couple find themselves in a minivan loaded with kids and littered with Cheerios, crusty sippy cups, and dark banana peels.
Amidst a baffling array of new sounds, different smells, unpredictable schedules, competing preferences, and unusual demands, you can’t help but think, What just happened? We are in way over our heads!
For Better or For Kids is a book packed full of our personal stories of marriage and parenting over the last 18 years, practical help and biblical wisdom that will enable you to have a loving and intimate marriage regardless of the season of life you find yourself in.