Crossway recently posted 3 Reasons to Prioritize Your Marriage Over Your Children, based on Voddie Baucham’s book Family Shepherds (November, 2011). While children are a huge part of a family’s focus and energy, these three reasons served as a refreshing challenge to continue to work hard at our marriage. By posting this, am I saying children aren’t an important focus in the family? By no means! Given the huge importance children have, that speaks to how much important the marriage relationship is.
1. Children will eventually leave home. Prepare your marriage for the empty nest. Once kids are gone, it will just be Elizabeth and me again. And while we can’t really remember what life was like before Mikayla (and 2P), we have worked hard to lay a firm foundation for our marriage. We need to continually maintain that foundation through the child-rearing years. “Building a marriage on the foundation of the preeminence of children is like building a house on a rented removable slab. You may have days or even years when you feel completely secure, but the day is coming when the lease will be up and the foundation upon which your home stands will be taken away.”
2. Marriage forms the cornerstone of children’s security. This is an excellent point that deserves much attention. Mikayla and 2P will have our marriage as their primary example for marriage. Our marriage will be a source of security, satisfaction, and love for them. Or, it could be a source of insecurity, frustration, and bitterness. Heavy stuff! “Ironically, those who prioritize their children above their marriage are not only jeopardizing their marriage, they’re actually depriving their children of the very thing they desire to provide them. The greatest source of security our children have in this world is a God-honoring, Christ-centered marriage between their parents. Putting the children first is like a police officer putting away his badge and gun in order to make the public feel more at ease.”
3. Putting your marriage first will prepare your children for marriage. Another great point. I am to show what a Christ-honoring husband is to Mikayla, and Elizabeth is to model a Christ-honoring wife. If the saying is even a little bit true that girls grow up to marry someone like their father, and boys grow up to marry someone like their mother, then what are we modeling to our kids? This is “one of the greatest lessons you’ll ever teach your children—how to be good husbands and wives. We must first and foremost model a commitment to marriage. Failure to do this will communicate ideas that are contrary to what we believe—starting with the narcissism it tends to create in our children—including the pitfalls that may follow them into their marriage.”
The primary responsibility for all this falls to the husband. Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church. Children have front row seats to watch the way this is played out: front row seats to every raised voice, disrespectful comment, short temper, belittling jab, or unloving gesture. As the husband, am I telling lies to my kids about Christ’s love for the church, giving them a false idea of Christ’s love (nod to Doug Wilson)? Or am I modeling sacrificial love, laying down my life for my wife in all circumstances? I know I will sin in front of them. But when I do, I hope I am given the grace to use those moments to model humble repentance. After all, there is never a time when parents aren’t modeling something to their kids, consciously or unconsciously.