The Other Woman in my Marriage

Elbows deep in a crumpled cardboard box, sitting on the wooden floor in my kitchen, I hear him. Coming up behind me, he ropes his arms around me, and nuzzles my neck. His two day-old beard and mustache scratch my skin, raising a chill down my lower back.

Surrounded by moving boxes towering high and a To-Do list just as tall, I waver.

And this is me, I recognize. This task-driven, productivity-focused woman is the one who wakes up in the morning, sees the jobs at hand, and plunges in.

But an unpacked or immaculate home is nothing without passionate loving relationships inside. A crossed-off To-Do list for a cross family solves nothing. So I’m reminding myself to set aside the lists to concentrate on the loved ones in my life. Sometimes this means a card game over coffee with my six year old and Lego battles that extend across the couch, or longer conversations with my teens about social media dilemmas.

I confess that I’m bad at this some days. Crossed-off items and a clean kitchen seem more outwardly productive than built relationships over the long run. But the payoff of a swept floor versus a sweet family connection is incomparable.

Sitting beside a cavernous cardboard box filled with random kitchen items and the guts of a spilled-out telephone drawer, I hesitate.

“It can wait,” I realize and stand.

My husband and I arrange a kids’ video for our little one before disappearing behind a locked door. Pulling shut the curtains and turning on the fan, we step in, fully seeing each other, smiling and leaning in.

The other woman in my marriage– this other personality side of me– is the fun one, the passionate and people-person one. She is the balance to my driven half.

There is a verse I have been scribbling across scratch paper, taping to my walls, and scrawling across my journal this last year or so. It rings in lyric prayer to me, and it comes to mind this morning.

May the Lord make your love increase
and overflow for each other, 
and for everyone else, 
just as ours does for you. 

May he strengthen your hearts 
so that you will be blameless and holy
in the presence of our God and Father
when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones  (1 Thessalonians 3:12,13).

He is doing it, I see, this God-head whose very Being reflects an interwoven, inter-connected ability to wrangle work and relationships harmoniously. The God of the universe is working in me, in my marriage and family, rekindling flames, making our love increase and overflow. And He gets all the credit.

This same God sees you, sees your loved ones, and can do the unimaginable. Ready?

* Photo credit: Neal Sanche, Creative Commons, cc license.

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  1. Elizabeth on September 5, 2014 at 5:01 pm

    I love that Thessalonians verse – I've never read it quite that way. I think I'm going to have to tape that up on my wall… πŸ™‚

  2. Jennifer Dougan on September 5, 2014 at 5:05 pm

    Isn't it a neat verse to use for relationships? My mom found it and said it first. I snagged it up and put it to song in my head. πŸ™‚

    Nice to talk with you,
    Jennifer Dougan

  3. Bill (cycleguy) on September 6, 2014 at 1:52 pm

    I have this sneaking suspicion the husband mentioned likes this other woman A LOT! Glad you were able to set things aside for a moment or two.

  4. Dolly@Soulstops on September 6, 2014 at 7:45 pm

    This: But the payoff of a swept floor versus a sweet family connection is incomparable. Oh for God's grace to always remember the importance of relationships over rules and clean floors….blessings to you as you unpack and also love on your family πŸ™‚

  5. Lisa notes... on September 6, 2014 at 9:31 pm

    I'm bad at this some days too, Jennifer. πŸ™ I wish I could always be disciplined enough to put relationships ahead of to-do lists, but sometimes the lines get blurry when my to-do lists seem to be things I need to do for the relationships too. Lord, grant discernment!

    I wondered who the other woman was going to be. I was thinking your mother-in-law maybe? Ha.

    Praying you settle in well in your new home!

  6. Jennifer Dougan on September 10, 2014 at 7:16 pm


    I think you may be right! πŸ™‚ I love it too.

    Jennifer Dougan

  7. Jennifer Dougan on September 10, 2014 at 7:19 pm


    Thank you, friend.

    Jennifer Dougan

  8. Jennifer Dougan on September 10, 2014 at 7:25 pm


    That blurred to-do list? Yes, I understand that too. πŸ™‚

    Jennifer Dougan

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