Are you modeling marriage for your children and other children who are watching your interactions with your spouse? Prayerfully consider the example you are and can be to your children. Consider how God would want you to model marriage for the young ones He brings into your life together.
“Marriage was designed by God to honor Him. Our union and our loving one another, is a statement to the next generation of what love looks like and what two people who keep their promise to one another looks like. We have a generation of young people today who desperately need to look into the eyes of their mom and dad and see them loving one another, committed to one another, and honoring God in their relationship. And you do that one step at a time, one day at a time over a lifetime. That’s what covenant-keeping love looks like in a marriage relationship.” (Dennis Rainey)
This is the picture God wants every Christian couple to model for their children. And, while we all start out with the “best of intentions” things can and will “happen” that can distort or ruin that picture.
Modeling Marriage for Children
When we first have a child, we’re primarily concerned with making sure he or she has every physical need met that we possibly can provide. It’s a huge responsibility to help God grow our child so he or she grows up into a happy, responsible adult. The responsibility grows when more children come along!
But helping our children grow into happy, responsible adults, goes beyond just meeting their physical needs. There are spiritual and emotional needs that we need to focus as well. And that’s where the title of this marriage message comes in.
As parents, we are more than caretakers. We are also role models who teach our children how to approach life. We are modeling marriage for them.
“Marriage is the soil of parenting. Basically, the more warmth and love between you and your spouse, the happier and healthier your child is. The more alienated your relationship, the more your child can be affected. It is much like growing plants. If the soil you use is rich, fertile, and full of good ingredients, the plant will most likely flourish. However, if the soil is depleted, empty, neglected, or has toxins in it, the plant will show that also.” (Dr Henry Cloud and Dr John Townsend, from Lifeway.com article Reconnect with Your Spouse)
Our Love Teaches Them How to Love
Of course, modeling marriage for our children is more serious than growing plants. But the issues brought up in the above statement is a serious one. As we love each other as spouses, we are also showing love and so much more to our children.
“Our marital union, our loving one another, is a statement to the next generation of what love looks like. It shows them what two people who keep their promise to one another looks like.
“We have a generation of young people today who desperately need to look into the eyes of their mom and dad and see them loving one another, committed to one another, and honoring God in their relationship. And you do that one step at a time. You do that one day at a time over a lifetime. That’s what covenant-keeping love looks like in a marriage relationship.” (Dennis Rainey from the July 28, 2005 Family Life Today radio program)
God’s Picture of Modeling Marriage
This is the picture God wants every Christian couple to model for their children. And, while we all start out with the “best of intentions” to have our marriages reflect that picture of a God-centered relationship to our children, things can, and will “happen” that can distort or ruin that picture.
Author and Marriage Counselor, Dr. Gary Chapman, talks about a very common problem in marriage that all of us who are parents (especially of very young children) need to prayerfully consider. (While we don’t know the origination of the source, we do know it comes from Dr. Chapman.)
Gary Chapman writes:
“For over 30 years, I have been sitting in the counseling office listening to couples pour out their pain. For me, nothing has been sadder than those couples who have focused on parenting their children while neglecting their marriages. They were deluded into thinking that the best thing they could do was to seek to meet the children’s needs. Yet, they failed to recognize that when they didn’t meet each other’s needs, they were setting the worst of examples for their children.
“My wife and I learned early on that we had to focus on each other if we were to become good parents. We had serious struggles in the early years of our marriage, before the children came. When they arrived, we knew that we couldn’t let them come between us. We love our children devotedly. But more than anything, we wanted to have the kind of marriage that would serve as an example for them. I remember how hard we worked to get the children to bed early so we could have time together.
“I am convinced that one of the best things any of us can do for our children is to provide them with a strong marital model. Children need to know that their parents love not only them, but each other. The child’s sense of security grows as he/she sees parents loving each other. To put your marriage on hold for 18 or more years while you raise the children is not only detrimental to the marriage, it is devastating to the children.
Childproof Our Marriages
“We must learn to ‘childproof’ our marriages during those parenting years. If we don’t we will soon learn that the marriage withers and dies. When the parental team breaks down and begins to disintegrate, the children become the biggest losers. They lose their family unit. This is where they build their sense of security. When children don’t feel secure, their whole world seems to unravel. No amount of baseball, piano lessons, or toys can make up for that kind of loss.
“As a matter of fact, recent research has shown that when the family unit falls apart, so do the children. Children from broken homes show a higher rate of: Academic problems, and dropping out of school. There is also more promiscuity, teen pregnancy, alcohol and drug use/abuse, and running away. And then there are more emotional and behavioral problems, violence, delinquency, suicide, and poverty as an adult.
“And that’s just to name a few. So, if you are thinking that you’re doing the best for your child when you put your spouse behind them in priority and your children as number one, you’re sorely mistaken. Although children obviously require our time and attention (and money, too), they do not require ALL our time or attention (or money).
“If we hope to influence the next generation, we must experience a change of focus. Of course we are interested in protecting our children from all those things I just listed, and the best way to do that is to help marriages stay together.”
Showing Love in More Than One Direction
When you show love to each other, you are loving your children as well.
“I want to emphasize that your children first see how to love by watching you and your spouse relate to one another —that’s a part of your legacy.” (Dennis Rainey)
That’s something to think about and pray about. Are you modeling marriage for your children so they see good actions to observe and emulate?
Steve and Cindy Wright
— ALSO —
The following is a Growthtrac.com article, written by Jim Burns, which points out:
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