My husband and I recently bought our first home and moved. No big deal, right? I've moved about 15 times in my life, so why should this time be any tougher? But it was. Just pursuing mortgage approval was scary enough, but actually signing up for a big debt that will last 30 years seemed surreal. And then there was packing up and moving—which I never had done with children before.
Moving suddenly seemed a huge, formidable job. I mean, with my part-time job, I was already having trouble staying on top of housework and laundry. I wondered how on earth I was going to pack up and super-clean our large apartment when my schedule was already chock-full.
But then I shifted into my "Big Goal-Little Goals" gear. The big goal was getting us moved (with quasi-efficiency). The little goals were ambitions for a single morning or afternoon or evening: "This morning I'll pack two boxes," "Before I go to bed, I'll finish folding the laundry."
And of course, we moved. With quasi-efficiency. Everything did get done—eventually. I'm a lot wiser now. I can throw around terms like "title" and "escrow" like a pseudo-pro. I'm actually acquainted with a Realtor, a mortgage broker, home inspectors and a lawyer. And I now know the guilt that comes from having a three-year-old innocently ask, "Mom, where's the green dog I got at the library? I can't find it anywhere!" (What could I say—"Gee, kid, I threw it in a bag and the veterans carted it out of here"?)
Best of all, I also have had a good reminder of the effectiveness of getting a big job done by undertaking it one baby step at a time.
Because of my job, I spend a lot of time reading marriage advice. Once in a while, I really start feeling the pressure. Think about it: If I tried to do everything all these experts recommend (exciting date nights; quarterly goal-setting and financial-planning sessions; passionate sex three times a week, etc.), I'd lose whatever sanity I still retain. Keeping my marriage alive and well over the course of 50 years (minimum!) begins to feel like a Herculean task.
So I'm approaching these life challenges of being a wife and mom in terms of "Big Goal-Little Goals." I'm trying to remember that the overarching goal of an intimate, godly marriage is achieved in the little choices and behaviors that make up each day.
On a hectic morning when paperwork and pressure is piling on, it means getting out of my office and arriving home on time so my husband won't be late to his job. In the kitchen, it's cleaning up the squishy crud that accumulates in the sink traps, because that's a job David hates. In the evening, it's remembering to find out what's stressful at his work before deluging him with the home news ("The toilet overflowed, the cat threw up, and the vacuum cleaner won't work").
It means putting aside the hundred and one things I could do with that last hour before bedtime because David wants—and needs—some personal attention (and not from a distracted, too-tired, not-tonight-dear-I-have-a-headache wife).
These things don't sound like much. But put them together with an occasional date night and consistent courtesy, and we've really got something good.
Copyright © 1997 by the author or Christianity Today/Marriage Partnership magazine. Click here for reprint information on Marriage Partnership.