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Just yesterday, we added a new member to our family... a 7-week-old German Shorthair Pointer puppy we have named Bailey. She weighs all of about 5 pounds...that's her in the pic with our 5-year-old Bradley.
Having a new puppy is eerily similar to having a newborn, as I was up at 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. I've been studying up on puppies. Interestingly, I have learned that what it takes to help them find their fit in the family is not unlike what is necessary for a child to find his fit -- they need to clearly know who is in charge.
As many of you may recall (or may be living it right now)... having a newborn can quickly put sexual intimacy with your husband on a crash course (what with the sleep deprivation and the breast milk all over the place, not to mention your Beloved feeling like he now has to compete for your body). Before long, sex can feel like an uninhabited tropical island, unreachable by land, air or sea. Probably is a beautiful place, but hey... you aren't doing more than gazing at it from a distance.
Well, newborn puppies and babies grow up into toddlers, gradeschoolers and teenagers. And if they haven't been taught who is in charge from an early age, then they naturally assume that they must be (selfish little creatures). For too many couples, their sex life hasn't recovered from the obvious limitations associated with a newborn, even after the newborn is no longer a newborn. Before long, the household starts feeling at best like a democracy and at worst like anarchy. But is this really what God had in mind?
I believe what He had in mind is what someone I know once described as a "benevolent dictatorship." It's benevolent in that it is for the good of the peasants (in this case, the puppies and children), but it is also a dictatorship in that mom and dad are in charge.
If your kids are taking a toll on your sexual intimacy with your spouse, it could be because they don't understand that your marital relationship is more important than your relationship with them. I'm not talking about neglecting children. I am talking about establishing boundaries that clearly and appropriately communicate, "Our marriage is of great significance and we are going to take care of it." Ironically, this is what your children really want. They want the security that comes when the "natural" order of things is established. They would probably never admit it, but they want to know mom and dad are in love.
So if you've been living in a democracy or anarchy, time to set up a new government. The babies (and puppies) may whine. The toddlers may throw tantrums. And the teenagers will certainly roll their eyes. But if you and your Beloved stick together on this...calmly, but firmly, establishing the importance of loving well as husband and wife...ultimately your children will thank you. They might even thank you by one day emulating such a marriage, thus giving your grandchildren the security they need too.
Be blessed. Be encouraged.