Monday, May 17, 2010

Importance of Marriage

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"Great marriages produce great parents." (On Becoming Babywise page 20)

One of the major points in On Becoming Babywise is the importance of the marriage relationship. Think about this, what is the first chapter in the book about? Is it about, sleeping? Nope. Eating? Nope. What to do when your baby cries? The daily routine?

Nope.

It is about marriage. This is quite unique to On Becoming Babywise. Most books available for newborns focus solely on the newborn. As you read books written for preschoolers and older, you will often find reference to the importance of the marriage relationship. Babywise hits it from the first chapter. "Although the primary emphasis of this book is the nurturance of a newborn, we would be remiss in our educational efforts if we skipped the foundations of what makes hope reality" (pages 19-20).

I know. It is hard to put the marriage first. And many people think it is wrong to do so. Others simply just kind of forget. They get all consumed in the duties and joys of adding a baby to the family. It is quite easy and even natural to kind of forget who you were as a couple before that baby entered your life. You eat sleep and breath baby. Your entire focus is on that baby. Your world revolves around baby.

Does that make baby happiest? Does it even make baby happy?

What does this behavior lead to? Well, it leads to the parents either drifting apart and becoming more of roommates than marital partners or it causes great tension and arguments. "All children, it seems, are born with a radar device that homes in on parental conflict" (page 21).

Did you ever experience this as a child? Did you ever see or overhear your parents argue and worry? I am not saying we should never disagree or argue in front of our kids, but I am saying that a lack of unification between you two will be picked up on by your children. Not arguing simply isn't enough. "...insecurity is fostered by what is not taking place between couples as much as what is taking place" page 21. You don't want to simply avoid anxiety in your child; you want to build confidence.

Take a moment to evaluate your relationship. Does it need some work? Would it stand alone right now, without the children in the picture?

If it needs work, don't feel like a failure! I think all marriages in reality need evaluation and changes quite often. It is good to realign and get back on the right track. All it means is you are normal humans who are honest with each other and yourselves. Yes, there will be many times you will step back and say, 'whoa, we need to change something here.'

Some people strongly believe the child should come first. What does this teach a child? Well, it likely makes the child a bit insecure at best because he isn't really sure where mom and dad stand with each other, and that makes kids nervous. It also often creates a very selfish child. The child is the center of the universe. The child whose parents add him to the family, valuing the marriage relationship, is used to working with others and is aware of the give and take that is required for relationships.

I have seen the fruits of these two approaches once the children all grow up and leave the house. I have seen the couples who have remained a couple all through their marriage. The children move out and they are left with each other, and that is fabulous for them! They have maintained a relationship. Sure, they miss their children, but they still have each other. This is the person they chose as a companion. They are happy to have some more time to devote to each other.

I have also seen the couples who completely put their children first. When it came time for the children to move out, they flipped out. Really. They cried at the weddings. They were losing their confidant and being forced to face this person they really didn't know anymore. It had been about 20 years since they had really had a true conversation. Rather than rejoicing with their children as they started new adventures in life, they mourned.

I am  happy to say one couple I saw do this worked on it, and after a few years fell in love all over again. Some couples, however, end up divorcing.

Your marriage relationship is important. Do a little testing. See what happens when your children see you hug and kiss. Some children obviously love it, while others pretend to be grossed out, but they always have a happy little smile on their faces.

Your marriage relationship is important for the entire family. It is important to the parents as well as the children. Making an effort to make your marriage happy will aid in producing happy, adjusted children. You do them a great favor by showing them how to love and work at love. I am so glad my parents gave me that example. I remember thinking as a teenager how nerdy they were because they would coordinate their outfits, but of course I loved it. I took pictures of it. It was a simply sign to me that they loved each other. A little strange? Sure, but they enjoyed (and enjoy) it :).

In our next marriage discussion, we will talk about some simple strategies for achieving that right balance between caring for your children and showing love for your spouse. Until then, check out these posts:

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6 comments:

Kelly Ford said...

What a great post! I just linked it on my blog and facebook... i hope lots of non babywise people will read this and see just how important the marriage is! thanks, val!
Kelly

Jamie said...

Great post! I see this already with my 18 month old. If my husband and I are hugging, Tre will run over and hug our legs. He NEVER does that if we're not hugging. He's not a very affectionate child in that respect, but he does like it when mommy and daddy hug and kiss each other!

Amanda said...

This is why I loved Babywise from the first chapter, and why my husband loved it too. It's so true that children love to see their parents in love with each other. Whenever DH says "I love you" and I say "I love you too" we hear a tiny little toddler voice saying "too!" from beside us. Tobias is always eager to be in on the love fest :) lol!

Kristy Powers said...

I find this to be a timely post, but then again it would always be timely! Like you said, a marriage usually needs work and adjustment. Our 4-year-old quite obviously enjoys our displays of affection, too. :)

CA said...

I cannot disagree with this article more. Where else in our lives does a relationship benefit by being focused solely on itself? My husband and I have grown so much closer caring for our child together. Adult needs can wait, a child's needs are much more immediate. And by having a common goal, a common work, and a common love driven priority, our relationship is stronger than I ever imagined it could be. There is nothing that I can imagine building love and connection like watching someone lay down their own needs and desires for the sake of another helpless individual. It is truly a God-like picture of family, real love, and sacrifice.

Plowmanators said...

You are welcome everyone and thanks for adding your affirmation of the importance of marriage!

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