Some couples have a difficult time putting their marriage relationship ahead of raising their children in order of priority. (Even if you don’t have children yet, keep reading!) It’s easy to fall into a child-focused marriage, and usually the marriage relationship suffers when kids are almost always put first. We think your greatest family investment is your marriage. Obviously, this doesn’t mean you leave the kids to fend for themselves. They may need more focused time at various stages in their development, but happy and fulfilled kids come from families where they feel secure in their parents’ relationship with each other.
The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother and vice versa. Here’s what Leonard Sweet says about the subject: “The more a marriage is spirited and sporting, the better off the kids. It’s impossible to have a healthy family without a healthy marriage. One of the best gifts parents can bequeath to children is the example of two people in love bound together in a vibrant covenant relationship.”* Frankly, this has been a struggle for us. We have tended to put much of our time and energy into the lives of our children, and there were seasons in our marriage when we were much more focused on the kids than on each other. It’s easy to do. The kids are constantly needy and as adults we seem to get by okay with less attention. However, a love-starved relationship breeds trouble.
A friend of ours uses the illustration of a hose with oxygen feeding your lungs. If someone steps on the hose and it shuts off the air supply, you will quickly begin to die. It’s the same with a marriage relationship. Step on the hose supplying fresh air to the marriage and it will quit growing. When the kids come along, far too often it is the end of courting our mate. If couples put half the effort into their marriage that they invested in their dating life, they would be surprised at how successful the relationship would be—and how secure the kids would feel.
We have gone back to some key questions to help us draw closer together and focus on our marriage relationship as a priority. What was it we did when we were dating that drew us closer together? Are we still doing that now that there are kids in the picture? Where is my spouse in my top-five priorities? How would my spouse answer that question? There is often a significant drop in marital satisfaction, especially in the area of romance, when children arrive on the scene. However, the most positive marriages keep making romance a priority as well. Sure it takes some juggling. No one said it would be simple. A strong marriage will definitely take some work. However, the vitality it will bring to your entire family is worth it.
• How are we doing? Is our relationship more child-focused than couple-focused?
• Were my parents and your parents role models in this? How do their relationships affect us now?
• What can we do this week to tweak our relationship in order to help our children feel more secure?
A STEP CLOSER
The Priority of Marriage
List three things you can do with each other to raise the awareness in your children that marriage is a covenant gift from God. How will these things show your children how to have a healthy marriage.
By Leonard Sweet, Soul Salsa: Seventeen Surprising Steps for Godly Living in the 21st Century