Living Out a Marriage Your Kids Will Want to Have
The careless, snarky words rolled off of my tongue too easily.
“You’re late. We already ate dinner and I’m not sure if there is any food left.”
My husband, who had just walked in the house after a long day of work, looked at me with eyebrows raised and quipped back something as equally irritating as he turned and walked down the hall.
I glanced over at the kitchen table where both of our kids sat.
Two pairs of wide eyes and ears were watching and listening intently. They were young then, only 4 and 7, but the fact that they were watching, listening and forming their views on marriage from observing our interactions sunk in deep that day.
Will our kids want a marriage like ours, I asked myself?
Most likely not if our marriage continued to look like it did that day. Not if they hear us using our words to condemn and criticize even if justified. We needed to make a shift. Maybe you do too.
The percentage of kids growing up in the millennial and gen z generations have dwindled in their desire for marriage. Research shows that some in these two generations desire to stay independent where they can gratify their selfish desires and be financially responsible for themselves alone. When what they see represented in the marriages around them is selfishness, fighting, and stress I can understand why they might feel this way.
In the day in and day out of marriage, there are struggles. Finances, parenting, personality differences, and the general stressors of life make it easy to lose sight of the bigger picture in marriage. God’s bigger plan for marriage is not for us to simply get what we want, but to glorify Him alone through selflessly loving another, our spouse.
Two of our kids are now teenagers. And although they are older, those eyes and ears are still keenly aware of my husband and me. We by no means get it right all the time, but here are a few things we want our kids to observe in our marriage so that when they look back they will want something very similar.
We want our kids to see us:
1. Pursue Christ together and individually. This means we pray together, attend church together, and talk to our kids about what God is doing in our daily life and theirs.
2. Respect one another. Resist the urge to act out our frustrations on one another. Respect is shown through honoring another above yourself, taking responsibility when you have hurt another, and valuing their opinion even if it is different than your own.
3. Show genuine affection toward each other. We want to hold that hug a little longer, kiss even when the kids cringe, and use terms of endearment for one another.
4. Stand together. We want to choose each other over everyone else even in the little things. Practice standing with each other in family and parenting choices even when we don’t agree.
5. Have fun and laugh together. We go out on dates, find games to play, movies to watch, athletic endeavors to undertake so that our kids learn that marriage is fun and not boring.
Husbands and wives, what kind of marriage are you showing your children? Don’t be afraid to ask them, especially if they are older. Apologize to them and your spouse for where you have fallen short and grow and change from their valid suggestions. Today is always a good day to start afresh as God’s mercies are new every morning and He gives grace in the measure that it is needed.
Pursuing Christ and becoming more like him will help you live out unconditional love for your spouse. A child that sees this kind of love demonstrated between their parents will not easily forget it.
Pray for this kind of marriage today. Pray that someday your kids will say I want a marriage like my mom and dad have. I am praying alongside you. Now go out and start today by having some fun together!