When a season becomes the standard
I grew up on a farm in the midwest, fields of soybeans and corn stretching out flat as a felted pool table. My father worked long hours on our farm, but as the sun finally gave up and sank into night, my dad was there at dinner, and then wrestling with us after.
The only exceptions were harvest and planting time. We all knew that with the capricious nature of rain and frost, good weather could not be wasted. During harvest, Dad might not get in until I was sleeping. During planting season, he might not make it to my spring choir concert.
But harvest wouldn’t have been a sustainable pace for my dad or my parents’ marriage or for our family. Even if harvest had brought in twice the cash, the cost wouldn’t have justified the ongoing exhaustion, the price we paid in everything that wasn’t money.
Unfortunately, the norm for a lot of families now is that of max capacity—where harvest season, so to speak, has become the norm. One of the greatest obstacles to any marriage isn’t just the usual suspects, but the actual lack of white space for us to emotionally and otherwise breathe, rest, savor, and simply be, both as individuals and as a couple.
We work just a little longer, have the kids in a couple more activities, volunteer for one more project at church … and fall into bed only to do it all over again. We have become experts at hustling and frantic accomplishment. But our relationships and our hearts have their ribs showing.
What if the goal of life and love wasn’t todo as much as we can?
Delighting in one another, nurturing one another, knowledge of one another—these take luxurious amounts of time. How could our marriages fill out if they weren’t always living on scraps?
There are seasons when all of us pull out the stops to make life happen. But frenetic must be the exception—the unique season—rather than the rule.
Here are 10 ways to reduce stress in your marriage and family.
Action points: What’s one thing for which you need the wisdom and courage to say “no,” in order for your family and marriage to get the right “yeses”?
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