Healthy marriages are incredibly important. The ripple effects of unhealthy relationships are broad and deep, adversely impacting husbands and wives, children, friends, and society as a whole. Fortunately, there are several actions we can take to repair, strengthen, and grow our marriages. My challenge to you is to discuss and incorporate these practices into your marriage.
Put Your Marriage Before Your Kids. Remember the pre-flight announcement during your last trip? “In the event of a loss of cabin pressure, an oxygen mask will appear . . . If you are traveling with a child, secure your mask FIRST, then assist the child.” There is a natural, maybe even instinctual inclination to prioritize your role as parent over your role as spouse. However, consistently de-emphasizing your marriage could damage both sets of relationships.
Family coach and minister David Code states, “Our marriages are important, but not urgent. So we neglect to feed and water our marriages, which die so slowly and quietly that we don’t even realize our mistake until it’s too late. But not only do we lose our marriages, we set a poor example for our children’s future marriages . . .”
Since our goals are to simultaneously raise great kids AND have a strong marriage that will last a lifetime, we need to examine how our day-to-day behaviors and priorities will affect our family’s future. Physician Danielle Teller said, “Children who are raised to believe that they are the center of the universe have a tough time when their special status erodes as they approach adulthood. Most troubling of all, couples who live entirely child-centric lives can lose touch with one another to the point where they have nothing left to say to one another when the kids leave home. . . Is it surprising that divorce rates are rising fastest for new empty nesters?”
Below are two brief articles that dive deeper into this issue:
- Kids Aren’t the Priority. Marriage Is. By Ann Swindell
- Priorities: Children or Spouse? By Lisa Belkin
How do we modify our interactions with our spouse to ensure he/she is prioritized while continuing to parent well? We discussed several ideas in our last two articles: Date nights, learning each other’s Love Languages, investing in our marriages, and seeking God together. Other ideas include consistent (and early) bedtimes for the kids so you have time together, and counseling if you are beyond what you can handle.
Know Your Guardrails. It’s been said that if you think you are not at risk for an affair, you are actually at very high risk because you are less likely to be on guard to prevent it. Jerry Jenkins, author of the book Hedges, says, “No one is immune. The strongest marriage you know of is in danger today if hedges are not in place.”
Notably, physical affairs typically don’t happen with strangers. They usually occur with people we know well when the “we’re just friends” boundary is crossed emotionally. For a longer discussion on this topic see: AnEternalImpact.com/guardrails2