06 Oct Priority Number One
One of the greatest favors we do our kids is to put marriage first and them second. Your marriage must be your first priority. It is one of the most important tasks in life you must face. You have freely chosen your husband and made a public commitment to love him and honor him all the days of your life. Don’t let him become second, third, fourth etc. on your totem pole of responsibilities. He must be your main priority. Partnership is more important than parenthood. Partnership often determines the quality of parenthood. It’s not how you treat children as much as how you treat each other. This will not only strengthen your parenting abilities, it will keep your marriage thriving through all the stages of family life, including empty nesting. It cannot be emphasized enough: Go to great lengths to understand and care for each other. Work at becoming each other’s best lover!
Your husband has a vital role in your family, just like you do. In many ways it may be the same, but it is different and complimentary. He approaches things from a man’s point of view and as such has different outlooks, needs and concerns than you do. Don’t confuse unity with uniformity. You are not there to give him a makeover, but rather learn to work together on a lifelong project whose foundation is love. For sure, this requires hard work, especially when feelings don’t match up. As a result, marriage is a relationship based in no small part on virtues. We are constantly called to get out of our comfort zone and stretch to love the other more, better, self-lessly, willingly. Louis L’amour, an acclaimed writer, once wrote, “Marriage is the ultimate test of maturity. Many find excuses for avoiding it because they know they are not up to the challenge, or capable of carrying on a mature relationship”. When you marry, you vow to be there for the other, in all circumstances. Each day is an opportunity to grow in love. Like good wine, a good marriage improves with time, moving from a love based on feelings, to a love shown in deeds, to a real act of the will. You grow to love each other totally, with the defects included, not in spite of them.
“In good marriages, men and women seek to improve themselves for the sake of their loved one. They offer and draw moral strength by sharing compassion, courage, honesty, self-discipline and a host of virtues. Husbands and wives complete themselves through each other, and the whole of the union becomes stronger and more wonderful than the sum of the two parts” (William Bennett, “The Moral Compass”). You come into marriage to give, more than to take. You give yourself freely, totally, exclusively and wonderfully to your spouse. What a great gift you make of yourself on your wedding day. Each day of your marriage is an occasion to renew that gift through the little things you say and do. Your children take up tons of your time and energy, but your spouse should still find a cozy place in your heart. He should not be put on a shelf to wait indefinitely for your attention. Your children are home for only a season, but your heart was vowed to your husband on your wedding day. Don’t let kids, work and life drain you to such an extent that he hardly gets the leftovers. Take interest in him, appreciate his hard work, learn to be more respectful of his ways, which are not your ways. Love him as he needs to be loved. Be the admirer, cheerleader and best friend you were when you were dating. If you don’t cheer him on, who will? You are and should be his most important friend and confidant. May your words and behavior speak to that effect. “A court judge in Denver who has handled over 28,0000 delinquency cases once said, The lack of affection between father and mother is the greatest cause of delinquency I know”. Realize when you invest more in your marriage, the whole family benefits. They also learn the dimensions of love, respect, forgiveness, mercy, compassion and patience that all relationships need to thrive. May your marriage be a school of love for them, a legacy worth living for.
When you live your life like this you will have emotional security, better physical health, stronger willpower and more energy to give your best self to all your other responsibilities. You will have a greater sense of unity, love and peace. Your children will also benefit tremendously. Kids learn how to love from your example. Your marital relationship provides an emotional template for all other intimate relationships your children will have. If you want your kids to have solid marriages, the best preparation is to live one yourself that is tangibly strong, loving, self-sacrificing and joy-filled despite the struggles. Never underestimate the tremendous power a good marriage will have on all the people in your life, especially you. Seek advice. Turn to trusted mentors. Be coached in the realities of marital self-giving.
Then you will be able to channel your energy towards meeting your husband’s needs. Don’t allow the day to drain you so much that your husband comes home to a dead fish. Plan your day better that you don’t overstretch yourself. Get the kids excited that dad’s coming home. Include him in the dinner and if it’s not possible have the kids wait to share the dessert with him. Let your kids see that he is your hero and you love him immensely.
- Caring For Children Means Caring for Each Other by Dr. William F. Harley Jr.
- Five Myths on Fathers and Family by W. Bradford Wilcox
- Humor Your Spouse by Susan Vogt
- When We Disagree by Susan Vogt
- Parenting: A School of Virtue by Dr. Janet Smith
- 36 Things I Know After 36 Years of Marriage by Winifred Reilly
- Marriage Is Good for Your Health by Susan Martinuk
I personally gained a lot of insight through reading Shaunti Feldhahn’s For Women Only, Gary Chapman’s Five Love Languages and Emmerson Eggerich’s Love and Respect. I discovered many ways I was undercutting my marriage without even realizing it. These insights have helped me make changes here and there that have had an enormous impact on my attitudes and my marriage.