One very important decision Terry and I made upfront was that we would make time to continue dating. We knew that the success of our marriage would be determined by the way we communicated with each other. The only way to effectively communicate was to set aside time for just the two us.
We enlisted the help of Sarah Scoggins and on Sunday evenings after church, she would come keep the boys. We did this on a regular basis for about the first six months of our marriage, maybe more. Of course, my parents and grandparents were often willing to take the boys for an overnight visit, giving us time alone together.
However, we learned we couldn’t be selfish with just time for us. The boys needed to be a part as well. So we made time for them as well. The goal was not to make them front and center but to make our relationship the primary and theirs the secondary.
I wish I could say it was easy. It wasn’t. My boys were accustomed to being the focal point. Between me, my parents and grandparents, we did a bang up job of marking them front and center. Adjusting this attitude would be hard, not just for me, but Ryan and Matthew as well. Again, things that are necessary are often hard at first and they take patience and time.
The one thing I had learned from observing other couples and their marriages, especially the good solid marriages, the spousal relationship was always primary and the relationships with children secondary.
Another thing that happened during our first six months of marriage was “the big kids”. I’ll have to back track s little yo explain.
Before terry and I met, in addition to being a part of the singles ministry, I also helped with the youth, I was teaching a group of girls. In fact, I began with this group when they were in 10th grade. At the time when Terry and I married they were in 11th grade. At some point between our 4-5 month of marriage, Jim Pearce, our youth minister approached me with a proposition for Terry. A male teacher was needed for this group of seemingly rebel 11th grade boys. These boys apparently scared off their other teachers. I can recall how many they had gone through since 9th grade, at least 4, maybe more.
When I asked Terry if he would be willing to teach them. He said, “Only if we can combine the boys and girls and you teach. I’ll help.”
I took the proposition back to Jim. He was willing to do anything to get these boys a teacher. He agreed to our terms. So, in July of 1995, we began teaching this group of amazing kids, commonly referred to in our house as “the brag kids”.
Once we began teaching them, our Sunday date nights turned into Sunday hangout night at Terry and Kelly’s. Ryan and Matthew always looked forward to seeing them.
Our once a week date night quickly became a thing of the past. However, we were still determined to date. It just looked different and happened less frequently.
We knew that God had given us this amazing task of leading and guiding these teenagers through their senior year of high school. I also knew from prior experience, youth need you to be involved with them on more than just Sunday. The only way to build trust and confidence is spending time with them. However, we had to exercise caution, even with them, and not allow them to intrude on our family and alone time. It’s a juggling act.
The juggling act was made more difficult because of my activity level at church. Y’all I was involved in everything. I sang in the choir, lead children’s choir, and worked with the youth on Wednesday nights, in addition to teaching them Sunday morning. I also worked a part-time job. In addition, I was consistently asked to take on more tasks at church. I loved the busyness. I was volunteer, extraordinaire. Terry didn’t approve. He didn’t mind telling me either.
He said, “Kelly, you have two boys to take care of and you’re constantly dragging them to church and leaving them for others to care for and you’re not being fair to them. They’re young and need you. If you can’t say no when you’re asked to do something , give me the phone and I’ll say ‘No’ for you. Besides, it’s taking time away from us too. I know what you’re doing is good but you can’t do everything.”
Talk about a wake up call! The church and activities had been my lifeline for the past 4 years. Again, he was right and I knew it. He wasn’t telling me not to do anything and drop everything, he was just telling me to get my priorities in the proper order.
If we hadn’t taken time for each other and had not learned to communicate, this whole conversation may have resulted in a far different outcome. However, I knew that he truly wanted the best for me and for the boys, He wanted me to value my time with them and not put my church activities ahead of them.
Sometimes life can be that way, we allow good things to take precedence over the greater things. The older I get the more I realize that time invested in people has more subtantial rewards and yields a much greater return on investment than being busy all the time.