If you need one more reason to make your marriage a priority now and stop waiting for some distant, perfect time, be an example of marriage for your kids.
We hear so often from parents, usually the mom, saying, “My kids are everything. My kids are my life.”
But in order of priority for us, we put faith first. We put God as #1, then it’s our marriage, then it’s our kids, then it’s our family and friends, and then it’s everything else.
It’s a clear distinction.
Our marriage has to come first, because it’s only by having a wonderful marriage and a loving relationship that we can best raise our kids and be examples for them.
If you think about it, where are your kids going to get a healthy example of marriage and what a happy, functional relationship looks like?
Where is your daughter going to get an example of what it looks like to be respected by a man? Where is your son going to get an example of what it’s like to be loved and respected by a woman?
Is the culture we live in going to give them a positive example of marriage? Are they going to get it from movies, or TV shows?
No way. Even their friends at school or in the neighborhood are probably experiencing a lot of brokenness at home. There’s just not a lot of good examples for them to see of what a relationship is supposed to be.
It’s going to have to be yours. Your relationship – the one they see every day in your household – is always going to be their first and foremost example of marriage.
In my family growing up, we had some bad examples (like really bad), and later in life I was blessed to have some good ones. Even when you know the difference, it’s still very hard not to subconsciously follow the one you saw first.
Also, if you’re a Christian, part of our call is to love each other as Christ loved the church. Our love is supposed to be agape love – sacrificial and completely giving.
It’s hard to do that on a day-to-day basis, of course. But when you focus on it, you’re going to do a lot better over time.
That love that you share for each other will definitely transform not only your relationship but your kids, your community, and extends further out from there.
So do it for yourself. Do it for your spouse. Do it for your kids. And, if you’re a person of faith, do it because our faith calls us to.
Bethany and I had something happen pretty recently with our daughter, Kendall.
She’s the middle child and the shy one of the bunch. Sometimes my wife and I will kiss over the kitchen table in the morning, and she’s the first to say “Eww gross!”
She’ll close her eyes and make a big deal of it.
But then one night after she said her prayers, when it was just Kendall and I in her room, we were doing a gratitude review that we call “What are you thankful for?”
At first, Kendall said she was grateful for ice cream, for having a great day at school…the usual kid stuff. But then she looked at me and said, “I’m thankful because you love Mommy.”
I thought, “Wow.” That meant a lot. I didn’t want to pry, so I left afterwards and got to thinking.
On one hand, I was really happy to hear that we’d set some kind of positive example of marriage for her.
She knows that I love her mom because we’ve made a point to express it without hiding it. We’re not shy about holding hands or kissing in front of the kids and saying “I love you” to the other.
And this is all very positive because it means she feels very secure.
It means we’re demonstrating a model of how she should be treated by her own future partner and what what their interactions should look like that she can reference later on.
But it also made me think, “What has she experienced that’s making her realize this is special?”
Was it maybe a friend of hers at school whose parents aren’t having a great time right now in their relationship? Maybe it’s something she saw in a TV show?
I don’t know the answer.
But I know that finding out she had been noticing our mutual love as husband and wife was something that made it very concrete for Bethany and me. It showed me how important it is that our children always see that love firsthand.
So it pays to always remember…your kids really are paying attention!
It pays in many ways to work on your relationship, not only because of how it will increase you and your spouse’s happiness, but because it’s our first and foremost duty as parents to have a good marriage and show them the way to do the same.
Be the positive example of marriage that your children or other family members need in their life. In our next post in this series, we’re going to show you how to do just that…stay posted for it.
Dustin Riechmann created Engaged Marriage to help other married couples live a life they love (especially) when they feel too busy to make it happen. He has many passions, including sharing ways to enjoy an awesome marriage in 15 minutes a day, but his heart belongs with his wife Bethany and their three young kids.