My husband and I will be married for 25 years this July. I consider a happy marriage to be a major factor in the success of our homeschool. I wanted to share six secrets for a successful homeschool marriage.
Listen to the podcast Watch on YouTube
Marriage takes two. I would love for you to listen to the podcast or YouTube interview I did with my husband using the buttons above. I thought he had great tips to share.
We hear the importance of communication so much that it becomes meaningless. Communication in a homeschooling marriage requires time. Often we are so busy working, teaching, and parenting that we don’t have time to talk with our spouse. We have to have time set aside for this purpose instead of hoping it will happen by default. The time my husband and I have together has changed as the seasons of our family have, but currently we have the most consistent time to talk over breakfast in the morning. The kids aren’t up. Experiment until you can find a time that works much of the time.
The second key factor in good marital communication is honesty. I have been shocked by the number of couples who don’t discuss problems that are obvious — problems with money, kids, the relationship. The hope in staying silent is that the problem will disappear. It usually gets much worse. If you need to be honest about a problem and you’re afraid to talk about it, pray. Ask God to give you the courage. Ask Christian friends to pray. They don’t need details. Choose a good time. Don’t talk when the kids or something else is distracting you or when you’re tired, hungry, or particularly stressed. Then use the I feel…when…and I need. For example, if you are worried about your finances, begin by saying something like “I feel anxious when I hear you talk about changing jobs. I need more details about that possibility. Can we talk about it?” The key is not placing blame and focusing on how you feel. Read Communication: Key to Your Marriage by H. Norman Wright.
#2 Understand your spouse’s personality
I used to think my husband was just trying to drive me nuts with his occasional controlling ways. Now I understand that control is a primary need for him. When something happens in another area of his life that makes him feel out of control, he will try to exercise more control in our family. If I can get him to identify the problem and talk to me about it, the need for control usually dissipates.
I recommend the book Personality Plus by Florence Littauer to help you quickly understand your personality and your spouse’s personality better.
#3 Understand your spouse’s love language
Not understanding my husband’s love language caused me a lot of grief early on in our marriage. My love languages are meaningful words and gifts. My husband’s is acts of service. We both tried to give the other what we wanted with not good results. My husband doesn’t care about gifts at all and took almost everything I bought him back to the store. That wasn’t personal; he takes almost everything he buys back, too! I was hoping my husband would spend a lot of time choosing gifts for me; instead he once scribbled a gift I could purchase on a piece of notebook paper and handed it to me.
I now understand that my husband doesn’t feel loved if I have no idea what’s for dinner and if I haven’t made our physical relationship a priority. He understands that if he is being critical and not complimenting me that I won’t feel loved. We compromised on gifts. I only give him very personal gifts like scrapbooks and he allows me to purchase my own gifts. I’m a lot more generous with myself than he would be, so it’s a win! Read The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman to learn more.
#4 Keep your spouse informed of what’s happening in your homeschool
Occasionally, my husband has been worried about how the kids are doing in school. Because he doesn’t teach or even help me choose curriculum, he doesn’t know if they’re doing as well as they should be. It’s important to talk with each other about challenges and successes and to get advice. My husband will be less worried when I tell him how the kids are improving in areas and he can offer me support for areas that are weaker.
My husband and I have different concerns with the kids’ education. He wants them to be very physically active and to spend little time on the computer. He also wants them to spend time with other homeschooled kids, but he doesn’t want to spend a lot of money to make that happen. It needs to be a priority for me to explain how I address his concerns while also addressing mine. He usually scores love language points after these talks by telling me what a great teacher I am.
#5 Give your spouse a break
My husband has always been willing to play with the kids when he is done working and give me a much-needed break. Even if the primary teacher can’t give respite during the week, it’s important to do that on the weekend whenever possible. My husband usually doesn’t work long hours and isn’t exhausted in the afternoon. If your husband is tired when he gets home, consider relying on him for a break after he has recuperated. Of course, if your roles are reversed or you’re both tired from working, find ways to give one another breaks to avoid resentment.
Breaks don’t just come from taking over childcare. I wouldn’t have been able to keep homeschooling six kids if my husband hadn’t been willing to stay with the kids so I could go out with friends on a fairly regular basis. We both spend time in separate hobbies and even occasionally take independent trips. These absences from one another have made our marriage stronger.
#6 Make your marriage the priority
I love homeschooling, but I love my husband more. If our marriage fails, homeschooling would be very, very difficult for me. In my podcast interview with him, my husband said something I had never considered. He said that if a huband feels like homeschooling takes all his wife’s time and there’s nothing left for him, he won’t be supportive of it. Fortunately, I don’t think my husband has felt this way or he would have said so. In fact, homeschooling has made it possible for our whole family to spend more time together.
But, there have been times when homeschooling, parenting six kids, and my writing and speaking responsibilities have left me depleted. It’s been tempting to skip time alone with my husband or the exercise that gives me the energy and confidence I need to be intimate. Fortunately, my husband has never let me get away with neglecting him for long. But not every spouse is vocal about their needs. Have a conversation with your spouse today about whether the marriage is a priority. If it isn’t, take steps to put it back in its rightful place. If you need help making intimacy a priority, read Sheet Music by Kevin Leman.
What other suggestions do you have for keeping a homeschooling marriage strong? Comment and let me know.
This is a guest post by Esther Littlefield of WellnessMomLife.com. Be sure to grab her great freebie!
When my husband and I first decided we would homeschool our daughter, I had a few stipulations. He had always thought homeschooling was a good idea. I, on the other hand, thought it was crazy. Not because homeschooling is crazy – but I knew myself, and I knew my daughter. I anticipated that it would be a big challenge for me to tackle the homeschooling thing.
Between my husband and I, we have 2 businesses, plus I have my blog. I also lead a women’s Bible study, run a local business networking group, and help out at our church. So when we discussed it, we had to come up with a plan that would allow to us balance our marriage, homeschooling, and both our businesses.
All three of these things – marriage, homeschooling, and having a business – are hard work in and of themselves. They can also be an absolute joy. But when you combine them together, you can create a potential implosion if you are not intentional about how to balance them all.
Here are a few tips that we have found to work for our family, and I hope they might help you, too, if you’re in a similar situation.
5 Keys to Balancing Marriage, Homeschooling, and Business:
- Be willing to frequently evaluate your roles and time commitments.
When we first started this adventure, we agreed that I would be the primary homeschooling parent. However, we both wanted my husband to be involved on some level, and so our plan was to have him do the homeschooling one morning a week.
Since my husband’s hours are flexible, and he works from home on Fridays, we decided that Friday mornings would be his time to do the schooling. This allows me to attend my networking group, as well as run errands and have a little bit of time to myself.
There is no magical solution for this, especially if you both have businesses or other responsibilities. The key is to have frequent conversations about how it is going, and be willing to make adjustments as needed.
- Give each other space for free time.
Due to our situation and our schedule, we have more time together and with our daughter than the average family, and we love that. However, we also both have outside pursuits that allow us to have breaks and enjoy things that are important to us.
For me, I have a weekly Bible study I lead, and that has become something I look forward to every week. He has his time to play video games with friends or go play his guitar with some other guys. This free time is important for both of us, and this is key to both of us maintaining wellness (and sanity) in our lives.
On the other hand, since we do spend more time together than the average family, it’s easy to neglect spending intentional time together. My husband and I spend a lot of time around one another, but how much of that is truly engaging in quality conversation? Or time away from our daughter?
We have found that scheduling a couple nights a week to spend time together – instead of working on our businesses – is important. We also make it a point to have a date night at least once a month. We have to be intentional about maintaining our connection and improving our communication.
For each family, it may look different. But just because you may spend more time together at home doesn’t mean that you are actually focused on each other. Scheduling this time shows that you value each other and your family.
- Show respect and appreciation for each other’s roles.
Finally, it’s incredibly important when you are balancing marriage, homeschooling, and business(es) to be sure to respect each other and the work that you do.
The best way you can respect each other is to show appreciation for the things you each do every day. Whether it’s little or big, taking the time to show appreciation can make your spouse feel incredible.
- Put your spouse’s needs before the kids and the business.
This is always a tricky one. But clearly we homeschooling moms love our kids. We spend all day with them, we teach them, we take them places – we invest A LOT into our kids. Sometimes this dedication to our kids can come at an expense: we end up neglecting our husband because by the time he is home, we are spent.
I’ll admit that there are days that I completely fail at this. As soon as my husband walks through the door, I want to tap out. I want to be done, and I’m not very invested in him or his needs.
But the truth is, if I neglect my husband, I’m actually neglecting our family. If I push him to the bottom of my priority list, I am slowly killing my marriage. And this is not good for my kids or for me.
If this is an area you struggle with, I can relate. I’ve created a free download for you: “10 Tips for Putting Your Husband Before the Kids”, which you can grab right here.
This job of parenting and homeschooling is not easy. Having a business can have huge risks, stressors, and it can be an emotional roller coaster. Marriage can have it’s challenges. Using these 5 keys to balance all of this can produce less stress and more wellness for you as a family!
Which of the 5 keys that I mentioned do you need to implement today? Share in the comments!
The homeschool lifestyle can leave marriage at the bottom of the priority list. That’s a dangerous pattern because nothing will threaten a happy, organized homeschool like a troubled marriage. This week we will take some simple steps that go beyond relationship maintenance to laying the foundation for the marriage you’ve always dreamed of.
#1 Evaluate Your Marriage
Most couples avoid marriage counseling until the problems are serious. You can take the first step that a professional would take: assess where your marriage is today.
For many couples, the prospect of taking an honest look at the health of their relationship is a frightening one. But failing to take stock is the biggest threat. You and your spouse should answer these 7 questions (include the two questions about your relationship with Christ that a commenter added). If you’re anxious about this, agree with your spouse that if this honest discussion creates conflict you can’t resolve, that you’ll see your pastor or a counselor for help with communication and conflict resolution skills.
You can also evaluate your marriage by listening to and discussing my interview with Dr. Don McCulloch, the author of Perfect Circle: A Husband’s Guide to the Six Tasks of a Contemporary Christian Marriage this week on the Homeschool Sanity Show (published on 2/11/14).
#2 Plan Regular Time Together
When we think of the marriage of our dreams, many of us picture romantic dates and vacations. The truth is that dream marriages are grounded in the everyday experience of communication, recreation, and intimacy. If we don’t have enough ordinary time together, expensive dates and vacations won’t be enough to get us by.
Hopefully, you and your spouse have agreed on a regular time to pray together. If not, do that today. Then decide together when is the best time for the two of you to talk, have fun, and make love on a regular basis. Depending on the season of life you are in, you may have to schedule time. While scheduled time isn’t traditionally romantic, it is very effective in strengthening a marriage. The best time to devote to your relationship will likely change as your family changes.
#3 Plan Special Time Together
Date nights away from home, couples retreats, and vacations are the icing on the cake. Dates don’t have to be expensive. Tip Junkie has dozens of cheap and creative date ideas for parents. Some of them are perfect for Valentine’s Day this week. If you need child care, consider exchanging care with friends who would also like to have a date night.
Consider attending a marriage retreat. I recommend a Family Life Marriage Conference. Also, see if your church offers a marriage retreat or Bible study. We organized a Love and Respect study with other couples and loved it.
Even getting away for a night (or having the kids out of the house for a night) can be renewing for your relationship. Pray about it and let your friends and family know you’d like to have a vacation with your spouse. God may provide for this in unexpected ways.
#4 Speak Your Spouse’s Love Language
Have you asked your spouse what would make for an ideal Valentine’s Day (or other occasion)? You may be surprised by the answer. Not everyone is entranced by roses and expensive dinners out. If your spouse’s love language is words of affirmation, a hand-written love letter may be a treasure. If your spouse’s love language is acts of service, a favorite meal prepared at home may be just the thing. If your spouse prefers physical touch, you’ll know what to do. 🙂 If your spouse’s love language is quality time, step away from the digital devices and act like you have all the time in the world to do what your spouse wants. If your spouse enjoys gifts, ask the kind of gifts they prefer (something they request, gift cards, or surprises). Consider reading and discussing The 5 Love Languages with your spouse.
If your spouse doesn’t ask what would make for an ideal Valentine’s Day for you, share anyway! If you love surprises, clarify the kinds of surprises you’d love.
Do you do anything special for Valentine’s Day?
Next week’s challenge is The Confident Parent Challenge.
These are the previous weeks’ challenges:
Organized Homeschool Challenge
Week 1: Daily Devotions Challenge
Week 2: Daily Routine Challenge
Week 3: To-Do List Challenge
Week 4: Memory Keeping Challenge
Week 5: The Decluttering Challenge
Week 6: The Organized Computer Challenge
It’s not been a very hot July, so I should really share cool news. I just visited my mom so she probably isn’t reading this month. Hopefully I can entice the rest of you to read with the recipe reviews at the end. This is what’s been happening with the Psycho family:
July’s page views were up 1,000 from the previous month.
In July, the most popular posts were:
Everything You Never Wanted to Know About Being Pregnant – my humorous letter that has been Pinterest popular
The Best Places to Buy, Borrow, Sell or Donate Used Homeschool Curriculum – I had used an absolutely awful photo for this post when I wrote it last year. I decided to create a new graphic for it and then pinned it to the Ultimate Homeschool Board on Pinterest and boom. The post received the traffic I hoped it would.
Why Classical Conversations Should be a Part of Your Curriculum – homeschoolers found this post by Googling as they considered options for the upcoming school year. I still believe it’s an excellent, affordable option regardless of your approach and I don’t make anything for saying so.
I am excited that my new iPhone case is emblazoned with my blog graphic. I’m really happy with the price and quality and recommend it to other bloggers.
#2 Other Writing
I have been spending time working on two book projects–just not as much time as I would like. When I can share details with you, I will!
Many of you are following my Christian Inspiration board on Pinterest. I’m excited about that, because not only will you find links to short posts from the Inspired Day, but from several superb Christian bloggers. Comment below if you’d like to be added to the board with the email address you use on Pinterest.
#3 Our International Guest
This photo makes this 16yo boy from Spain look like he has been lounging around on his visit, but that is not the case. He is the son of a friend’s friend and he has been a delight. He has been visiting to experience American culture and improve his English. My son, Sam, has been enjoying the process of improving his Spanish, too. My boys have been taking advantage of our guest’s graciousness to demand that he do everything with them! It’s a challenge for me to tell them to stop because he is giving me a break. We will certainly miss him when he goes home.
#4 Our New Driver
You may recall my terror at having a Permit Driver. Now you can share my fear as Caleb takes to the road with his license. I would be even more thrilled not to have to drive everywhere with him due to his busy social life, but Sam will be getting his permit any day now.
It’s hard to believe that Caleb has just one more year of high school and then he’ll be heading off to college. He has many factors to consider like
rankings, research opportunities, distance from home, study abroad programs, money. He’ll be busy making some decisions about where to apply in the coming weeks.
After considering Sam’s future, we have decided to enroll him in College Plus Prep–the same program Caleb went through. We want to determine if independent study is the best way for him to earn his college degree.
#6 New Recipes
I seriously considered doing a weekly post of new things I’ve tried from Pinterest, but the last thing I need is another obligation. Instead, I’ll include my reviews in this monthly wrap-up when I can.
Clean Eating Zucchini Bread
I want recipes that are whole-grain, low fat, and reduced sugar. So I tried this zucchini bread. Our rating? Too healthy tasting. My friend made a recipe that is a little less healthy and a lot more tasty. When I get her to write it down for me, I’ll post it for you.
Slow Cooker Lemon Garlic Chicken
I ended up having to tell my husband how to make this over the phone, only to discover we had no lemons. When life hands you no lemons, you make lime garlic chicken. Our Rating? It’s a winner. Makes for very moist, tasty chicken and it’s easy.
BBQ Chicken Empanadas
So it’s abundantly clear that I’m not into food photography, especially here. The truth is I was in a huge hurry when I made these. This recipe was very popular when I pinned it to my Lunch Recipes to Try board. I tried rolling and cutting the dough and discovered that just using two crescent rolls together (and smooshing the perforations which I did very poorly) was the quickest method and made large enough empanadas for my teens. I used low-fat crescent rolls and canned chicken. I combined the chicken with BBQ sauce until it was coated. I sprinkled each with cheese, closed the dough with a fork, and baked. The average rating was an 8. I’d say that’s a winner!
I’d love to know about the hot flashes you’re having! Let me know in the comments, your favorite social media format, or just call me so we can have lunch. My birthday is coming up, so you’re buying. 🙂 Thanks so much for reading. You made my day.
My blogging buddy Tom Dixon does a review of the month on his blog where he shares statistics and news. I so enjoy these posts, that I decided to do one of my own.
What that means is that everyone but my mom can stop reading now. So, Mom, here’s what’s been going on with me:
I merged multiple blogs into this one in October of 2012. (If you don’t know why, read this.) In June, my page views were up 1200% since launch. (Keep in mind that I’ve studied advanced statistics and can make them say anything I want them to.) I am thrilled to have a growing readership, not that you don’t mean the world to me, Mom!
The most popular posts since beginning this blog are:
Everything You Never Wanted to Know About Being Pregnant – a Pinterest winner for me. I am working on improving my pins and growing a following on Pinterest as a result.
Why Classical Conversations Should Be a Part of Your Curriculum – a Twitter winner when Classical Conversations retweeted it
Scarred for Life – a Facebook winner when the shocking photos were all anyone could talk about
In June, the most popular posts were:
Everything You Never Wanted to Know About Being Pregnant
Can Mark Forster’s Ultimate Time Management System Help You Get More Done? – readers of Mark Forster’s blog and forum have increased readership of all my time management posts, including the third most popular below
Can Another Simple and Effective Method Help You Get More Done?
#2 Other Writing
The Once-and-for-All Meal Plan Ebook has been downloaded over 2,300 times. Because I don’t have that many email subscribers, my guess is people are sharing the link. I don’t mind, but soon the link will change because the book will be revised. I’m excited about the changes I’ll be making because the plan will be much easier to implement. You’ll be the first to know, Mom!
#3 My Health
I have mentioned in several posts that my health has been poor. The good news is my energy is back to normal. The bad news is I am not symptom-free and I don’t have an easy-to-treat diagnosis. But I can already see how God is using it for good in my life. One way in which that is true is that I am more committed to eating well and serving healthy food. I would dearly love your prayers that I would be well enough to do what God has called me to do and that I would trust Him completely.
#4 My Marriage
I remember a veteran homeschooler sharing at a group meeting many years ago that what she liked most about homeschooling was that her husband was self-employed and was around to help out with the kids. And what she liked least about homeschooling was that her husband was self-employed and was around…I laughed very loudly because my husband is also self-employed. What’s more is that he has much of the summer off. We’ve learned to deal with our differences, though, and I can honestly say that I love him more than ever after the way he has supported me through my health challenges. We celebrate 21 years of fireworks this week as we were married on the fourth of July.
#5 The Kids
This was a big month for my oldest who has been driving everywhere in our newly purchased used automobile with me in the passenger seat. If you’ve read Permit Driver, you know that I’ve been a bit anxious about him driving. I’m really proud of myself because I’ve made several trips without screaming in terror. I think he just needed that extra time to mature, because he’s really doing great. Mostly.
He also got his first job working for our church. I was so touched when one of the office staff stopped by our house to deliver a cupcake to him on his birthday. Not many employers would do that!
Andy got braces and the youngest kids have been losing teeth like crazy and losing faith in the Tooth Fairy, too. My daughter asked why when she woke up there was no money, but when she went back to make her bed there was. Hm.
Once again, I’ve sworn an oath to do more school in the summer and once again I haven’t kept it. We have done some reviewing, continued with history, and a bit of workbook stuff, but not much else. Here’s part of the problem. The neighbor kids show up at my door and my children look at me as though they haven’t seen them in years and how could I even think of asking them to do school? I’m weak. All my nerve was used up riding around with the permit driver.
I have been using the time to prepare for the fall, however.
I’d love to know about the hot flashes you’re having! Let me know in the comments, your favorite social media format, or just call me so we can have lunch. 🙂 Sure, you too, Mom!
This week is all about preventing and solving problems. I LOVE the posts my fellow bloggers are linking up. I can’t include them all, so be sure to check them out on the site if you’re reading via email.
What Common Core State Standards and Homeschooling Have in Common
If you haven’t been online much the past few weeks, you may not know much about the Common Core. These YouTube videos are a great place to start. But I love this post from 7 Sisters Homeschool that encourages us to keep it in proper perspective.
Creating the Perfect Homeschool Schedule
I’ll admit it. I’ve believed that if I just planned the perfect homeschool schedule, I’d be a perfect homeschool mom. Heather Bowen of Upside Down Homeschooling turns that idea, well upside down!
Must I Finish Every Textbook?
Do you have more textbook than school days left? If so, you might be feeling stressed or guilty. Next Gen Homeschool has some reassurance for you.
How to Homeschool and Work from Home
Speaking of scheduling…when you’re doing any kind of work other than homeschooling, that’s a challenge, isn’t it? Jamerrill Stewart, a gracious and very busy WAHM, shares her story.
The Minimalist Guide to Being a Thankful Wife
All this busyness in our day may lead to forgetting one very important person: our husbands. As a psychologist, I can’t stress the importance of marriage maintenance enough. Women Abiding shares these words of wisdom.
National Digital Public Library
I did my doctoral research by driving to libraries, lugging heavy journals up and down floors, and making hundreds of photocopies. What a blessing that our kids don’t have to research this way. The National Digital Public Library is a new resource that makes studying anything easier.
Now it’s your turn! What’s hot in your homeschool this week? Please use my blog button (bottom right) or link to this post. Visit the link before you if you can and say thanks.