Whole Parenting Family

6 Ways I’m Honoring My Spouse

whole parenting family

I’m still a novice spouse myself, almost six years in. So don’t take anything here as word from on high. In fact, take it with two fistfuls of salt because what you do with your spouse is probably totally different than what I do with mine with respect to this. But given that I have a blog and love to feel like an expert {NOT}, you get my take on this.

For the first time in our marriage these past few months, I felt guilty like I was really neglecting my husband. I mean, I kept the kids alive and I talked to him. So that’s good. Right?

But him as a person and me as as person were not resonating on the same level. We were like two robotic puppets (now there’s a weird image for you) going through the motions of gathering together our energies and household, but not actually connecting. That’s in part why I wrote my last post about seeking common experiences outside of family life and work life, outside of talking over drinks or snuggling in the bedroom, or for the cosleepers among us, snuggling somewhere other than the bedroom.

I thought about this idea of not connecting. Then I thought about vows. Then I thought about how SweetPea thinks vehemently believes one of Santa’s reindeer is named Victim. Then I thought about Grace’s last post about Bash’s talking. Then I thought about how Bridget had her baby, Anders!!! Then I circled back to vows. And honoring. How am I not honoring my spouse? And how can I do it better?

1) Shut up and listen.

I talk a lot. You know how I sound when you’re reading me? Yeah, I talk a lot like this in real life. Like a motor boat. And I interrupt. And I superimpose my thoughts//feelings//longings//foodcravings on other people in conversation.

I’ve practiced this stealthfully lately. What is he saying about his day? How is he breathing? Long exhausted sighs when I pick him up from the bus stop or train station? Or are his eyes snapping open and closed as though that last pot of afternoon coffee at work made him jittery? What does he need?

And what he needed was a weekend away from normal stressful everyday life. So we took an overnight to the Lodge. With only the baby. Heaven!!!

whole parenting family

2) Don’t override him and include him instead.

I make almost all the household decisions because I’m the one here for 12 hours a day without him. Where the furniture is moving, where the kids are sleeping//how they are sleeping, when snack time and rest time are, what’s on our social calendar, what needs to be done around the house, etc. He’s a laid back guy, and usually I think he’s glad I’m running the household. It means he can come home, eat a warm meal, play with his kids, and crash after they do.

Lately we’ve had lots more activity around the house than usual//visitors, events, parties, people over for dinner. I have to remember to clue him in, to go over what is coming up and make sure it’s not an avalanche for him. Because I’m way more extroverted than he is. And I often spring on him oh, so and so is coming by for dinner//evening//staying!

3) Tending to our household.

The blog is fun! The sponsored giveaways for you are fun! The review products for us are fun! The etsy shoppe and all its glorious sewing & knitting is fun! But I’m staying home from lawyering for a reason so there is a fine line I tread between getting the feedback and enjoyment and affirmation I need from all of the aforementioned, and cleaning my damn toilets. And reading aloud to the kids. And folding the clean clothes. Because right now I don’t know which are clean and which are dirty because they’re all waded in a heap on the floor of the hallway between our room & the kids’ room. It’s a disaster.

He helps out with cleaning, laundry, kiddos, teaching them great stuff (like SweetPea & her alphabet right now and SuperBoy and his addition). He is a very involved dad. BUT when I see him cleaning the bathrooms late Sunday night because I haven’t in forever and a day, I know I can do that part. I mean, it’s kinda like–just do it, Nell.

4) Letting him parent as himself.

whole parenting family

How many of us moms jump in while the other parent is trying to parent? Oh, don’t let him have that! She’s got that scissors in her hand. He hasn’t finished all his food and cannot be excused. I may have said all three of these things in one setting the other night. I had to refer to step 1 & shut up. He is in the room. He is watching the kids while I clear the table. He is a capable, competent adult who can handle their tantrums, choking hazards, and safety concerns.

If I jump in all the time, they have no real relationship with him. Also, if something does happen, Lord, don’t let it be with the scissors or the eating of the crayon peals, he can take care of them and it. I am not the Alpha & Omega. We’re a team. I trust him and even if they are never fully dressed as warmly as I would like them to be on his watch, they thrive with their dada. Even if it looks like BabyLoves is about to put his hand in the fire here.

5) Praying for him.

whole parenting family

If you’re a praying type, try this with me. It was a really great exercise earlier this year: praying specifically for my spouse. I prayed for him a particular prayer for three months. And prayer isn’t magic, obviously, insofar as it’s not like oh I prayed so then it happened! It’s more like a request line that you hope gets answered and are very grateful if and when it does. The exercise of specific prayer for a specific person helped me focus on him for that brief prayer each day and I felt more connected spiritually to him.

6) Making time for affection.

It’s scientifically a fact that most women prefer talking to sex as it lights up their pleasure center in their brain, and men suffer//bask in the glow of? the opposite. And romance takes way more effort for us females to get in the mind space of. We have to stop thinking about our list, our emails, our friend’s child’s problems, our dirty kitchen, our hot cocoa mix beckoning. Now I really sound like an old married woman–but truly, just the facts!

Making the time, not finding it because it’s probably isn’t there given how insanely busy life is, for intimacy is a great relationship win. Snuggling, spooning, or whatever happens next is really rewarding. To be able to give your physical and spiritual space to your spouse, as a gift, and have them receive and honor that gift? Priceless feeling.

//snuck one in of our Godson & BabyLoves. So presh together!!//

whole parenting family


  1. Katarina on December 12, 2014 at 1:21 am

    Oh Nell you are such a wonderful, generous and tender spirit. I kind of have a special affection to your blog as I am a lawyer myself and I often have hard time re conciliating “myself” when I am at work and when I am at home. Those two aspects of my life are just intrinsically so different. Maybe you understand <3 Anyway, beautiful article. I wish you had more of these. Kisses&hugs.

    • Natural Mama Nell on December 12, 2014 at 8:19 am

      I so so so understand!!!! It’s like two different people. <3 xoxoxoxoxoxoxo

  2. Laura @ Mothering Spirit on December 12, 2014 at 6:30 am

    Love this. I’ve been feeling this lately, too. How to make this relationship – the VOWS I took to do so – the center of what I’m called to do. Lots of room to grow here. Thanks for getting me thinking…
    One simple thing I do to pray for my husband every morning started from his own practice of lighting candles in our bathroom when he gets ready for work (instead of turning on the harsh lights). I started doing the same and it is such a gentler ease into the day. Then I started realizing that I could make the blowing out of the candles a sacred pause, too. So now when I’m done getting ready, I stop before I blow out the 1st candle and pray for him – as a husband, a dad, a worker, a child of God, all the things he will be called to do and be that day. And then when I go to blow out the 2nd candle, I remember to pray for all that stuff for myself as well – to be a good spouse, mom, etc. It reminds me how we are in this work together and it’s a small practice in putting him first.

    • Natural Mama Nell on December 12, 2014 at 8:18 am

      You are SO good at the lens of sacred. I LOVE THIS!!!

    • Laurel on December 12, 2014 at 10:18 am

      That’s a beautiful way to remember to pray, Laura. Love it.

  3. Rachel @ Efficient Momma on December 12, 2014 at 8:39 am

    lol! I loved this. And laughed. A lot.I’m so guilty of not doing a lot of these. Especially the not letting him parent.

    • Natural Mama Nell on December 12, 2014 at 7:30 pm

      It’s hard when often it feels like we know best. !! Especially when we DO!!

  4. Bonnie on December 12, 2014 at 9:00 am

    Amen. Nell, this post and your last post about connecting through shared hobbies really has me thinking. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us – it’s so important to nurture healthy, happy marriages.

    (And tell your husband HI for me – he’s such a good guy!)

    • Natural Mama Nell on December 12, 2014 at 7:31 pm

      He says HI, BONNIE!! For me marriage// although the most important relationship with another person//gets on the back burner far too often. Ugh!

  5. Emily Barnes on December 12, 2014 at 9:27 am

    I’ve been feeling the same thing lately. The past month or so, we have really been working on our “teamwork” skills. It really felt like we were doing this marriage/parenting thing separately – which totally does not work… Its amazing how good it feels to put the hard work in and enjoy the fruits.

    • Natural Mama Nell on December 12, 2014 at 7:33 pm

      So there’s hope for me!! Thanks for sharing, my friend.

  6. mamie on December 12, 2014 at 10:08 am

    Amen on all points! I remind myself that childhood is so transient…moreso than marriage, and that both my children and my marriage need to be nurtured. Mothering is automatic because it is in my genes. Spousal attention-giving is not so instinctual. Anything I can read to be reminded of this is a great resource because my forgetful brain needs constant reminding. Making daily prayer time for my husband just moved to the top of my priority list. I love Laura’s candle practice 🙂 thanks to you for this post!

  7. Laurel on December 12, 2014 at 10:17 am

    Gosh, it is so easy to pass like thieves in the night rather than find your swing together like a rowing team. I’ve been praying for guidance on this, and you have some wonderful tips here on making better strides in walking the journey together. One thing we’re trying to do is each make sure that the other’s love language is filled in a BIG way at least once a week (obviously, with smaller things throughout the week). We’re finding it helps A LOT. And the whole, letting them parent on their own…yes. Is there a woman who doesn’t struggle with this?? 😉

    • Natural Mama Nell on December 12, 2014 at 7:34 pm

      Great point on the love languages!!! Yeah, I’m a bossy cow and my poor husband is patient with me trying to scale it back. Hahaha

  8. Elizabeth on December 12, 2014 at 10:38 am

    Yes. Yes! All of the above. I can certainly improve in all of these areas–some more than others. It’s so nice to know that other wives/mothers are in the same place. I’m saving for later when I need the reminder again. 🙂

    • Natural Mama Nell on December 12, 2014 at 7:35 pm

      I’m the worst!!

  9. Julie Baldwin on December 12, 2014 at 11:56 am

    Really beautiful post Nell! I should work on praying more specifically for my spouse too. I am learning to let him parent more too… even though he lets her try out her Danger Side more frequently than me!!

    • Natural Mama Nell on December 12, 2014 at 7:38 pm

      Good thing for dads or my kids would be totally sheltered from anything remotely exciting!!! Hahaha

  10. Maggie on December 12, 2014 at 6:54 pm

    On letting him parent….not too long ago, I was working long hours due to trial, and Dad is picking up slack at home. During the day, I get a text that says, “I got lunch and dinner covered.” And he attached a picture of the kids with a White Castle crave case (36 burgers). Is it what I would serve? Not in a million years. But did the boys delight? Yes. Praise God for Dads.

    • Natural Mama Nell on December 12, 2014 at 7:39 pm

      Hahahahah!!! Love it!! And you’re a total foodie! Dads are our balancing point!

  11. DrMomAz on December 13, 2014 at 10:05 am

    So great. A lot of couples struggle in the 6-7 year time. Being intentional is key! I especially love your point about letting him parent. But honestly I relate to needing to tend to the household!! That was my anniversary pledge this year and we have been together almost 20 years (married 14+). Thanks for the reminder!

    • Natural Mama Nell on December 14, 2014 at 11:46 pm

      How beautiful! We’re all just here to remind each other! 🙂

  12. Patty on December 13, 2014 at 1:12 pm

    Oh my gosh #1!! That is sooo me…sometimes I see myself instead of listening to Jim in my head only thinking of my reply/rebuttal…marriage has taught me how much I need to grow in listening, lol!

    • Natural Mama Nell on December 14, 2014 at 11:46 pm

      So much so! So so so much so!

  13. […] 6 Ways I’m Honoring My Spouse […]

  14. Rebecca on December 15, 2014 at 2:01 pm

    Oh, you sound like me and your husband like my husband! Not to mention, we have an 8-month-old co-sleeper (not-sleeper) and still feel like we’re in survival mode! Thank you for this wisdom, I’ve been struggling lately in all these areas.

    • Natural Mama Nell on December 15, 2014 at 2:29 pm

      We are in the same boat (bed? Haha) with our 7 month old. I dont know that i have any wisdom but am so glad sharing my struggles has benefits!