Modeling a Healthy Marriage For Our Kids

Marriage can be hard enough without the addition of kids. Take two people who are naturally selfish each with a crazy schedule. Add a schedule for each kid including school, homework, and other activities. Then add all of the issues that come from raising kids including discipline, chores, hygiene, etc and you have the makings of a time-starved marriage. Many couples handle the chaos by resolving themselves to the fact that they are just not going to have much of a married relationship, never mind dating and romance. They figure that once the kids are old enough to be on their own, they will somehow rekindle the romance and pick up where they left off before the kids came into the picture. The problem is, most couples who have this perspective, wake up one day and realize they don’t really know the person sleeping next to them. With no effort put into the relationship they are left with a partnership instead of a marriage. Not only does that type of marriage hurt the couple, it also models for their kids what marriage is all about for good or bad. So how does a couple keep the marriage going while dealing with changes that happen in a home with kids?

Make Time a Priority
First, we need to make time together a priority. One of the biggest relational issues I have found in surveying couples at Saddleback Church is time. In fact time is usually second to communication which can’t happen if you don’t have time! Now your time together may be different than it used to be, but you need to make it a priority if you are to stay connected to one another. Not making time together a priority tells your kids that marriage is not really that important and there really is no work to it. So what do you do to make time for one another? Instead of dividing and conquering all the time, make it a point to ride together to pick up the kids or drop them off at the next event. During those events grab a cup of coffee or hang out together. Another opportunity is when the kids go to bed (make it early) or while the kids are in school. Find those moments where you can connect. There is wasted time you could definitely utilize!

Protect Your Time
Second, let your kids know that mommy and daddy need their time together. Your kids need to learn what a healthy marriage looks like and the only way they will learn is by observing how important that relationship is to you and how you model it for them. If you only exist together, your kids will learn that marriage is about sharing resources. If your only interaction is arguments or disagreements, they will learn that marriage is about winning. If they see no romance in your relationship or love for one another they may actually learn that marriage destroys relationships instead of being one of the most intimate of all relationships. You get the point. Model the marriage you would want your kids to have so they have a chance at having it. Otherwise, they won’t have the skills or the background to know how to have a healthy marriage.

Grow Your Marriage
Third, make marriage enrichment a priority. There are plenty of marriage enrichment activities you can plug into and there are more resources in the area of marriage than at any other time. If you don’t work on your relationship your relationship will not grow, in fact it will go backward. Plus modeling for your kids that you actually take the time to learn how to love one another better is a lesson that every parent would want for their kids.

Connect Spiritually Together
Finally, make time to grow spiritually together. Those who are followers of Jesus Christ know that sharing together what you are learning through time in scripture and prayer is an important part of building a strong marriage. It doesn’t have to be difficult. It could involve talking about what each of you is learning in your bible study and prayer or reading a devotional together. Here again, is another opportunity to model for your kids what role faith plays in your marriage so they can “catch” the importance and see what it looks like.

Adding kids can feel like you are blowing up your marriage or at least putting it on hold for a while. But putting your relationship on hold does not help you to grow healthy kids. Instead it has the potential of growing kids who know nothing of what it takes to have a great marriage. You’ll also end up with a marriage that lacks intimacy and connection. So the big question is, what are your kids learning about marriage through observing you?
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