By: Kermit Rowe, Encompass Relationship Facilitator
Another Mother’s Day has come and gone. The relationship between a mother and her children has been widely heralded and celebrated, and deservedly so. The women who were divinely chosen to be our gateway into this world are the glue that helps hold our families and nation together.
However, if that parent-child relationship supersedes the husband-wife relationship, trouble in the family usually follows. Picking your spouse over your kids is increasingly becoming unpopular advice as the country increasingly turns away from God and His ways. However, not making that choice goes against the priorities God set up for all marriages. His order of priority when things get unclear: God first, your spouse second, the kids third.
This doesn’t mean that you love your children less. God forbid! But when we decide to accept God’s gift of holy matrimony with the love of our life, we are expected to live our married lives in His holy ways. There’s a reason “forsaking all others” is part of the traditional wedding vows. All means all if push comes to shove.
Why is it important to choose your spouse over your kids if you must pick one over the other? Here are just four of the myriads of reasons:
1. Kids who are always No. 1 become very self-centered. If they’re told the world revolves around them for the first 20 or so years of their life, they’re in for a rude awakening when the real world teaches them that it doesn’t. We are naturally self-centered when we come into the world. Everything is “mine” and we expect all our needs to be met immediately. Instead of adding to that destructive and scripturally inaccurate worldview, parents need to show their children early that while they are loved beyond measure, they also need to be taught humility. God honors a humble heart.
2. When your spouse is valued and happy, the family feels valued and the home is happy. Highly valued spouses highly value their spouse and family. Harmony is the default in the home, not chaos. Spouses who feel like the least important member in the family can easily feel resentment, resignation and alienation. Simply put, it gives the devil a foothold in your home. No one wants that!
3. It keeps the romantic feelings flowing. It’s not exactly a turn on when your spouse feels like the kids are more important than the intimacy you two should be sharing! Remember, you vowed to spend the rest of your life with each other, not your kids. Enough said!
4. You are showing your children how marriage best works. They aren’t going to be young forever. They grow up, look for their own mate and start their own family. A culture that witnesses failure in one out of every two marriages will often show them inferior models of relationship and marriage, which add to that failure rate. The impact of being the first, best and most powerful model of marriage can’t be discounted. Unfulfilled, unhappy parents can lead their kids to conclude that marriage makes people unhappy.
We often see couples who come to Encompass for help in their relationship realize during their coaching sessions that they have their priorities out of order, and that this is what is causing a lot of the friction and chaos in their own relationship – not that they don’t love each other. Keeping God’s priorities in order and active in your marriage and family is the best way to assure this won’t happen. When you do this, realize that you will then have God’s power on your side as He delivers on the promise to bless your relationship when you honor Him.
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Lavern & Ronda Nissley are co-directors of Encompass. Married since 1978, both enjoy coffee, riding their tandem bicycle and working together to build strong relationships.