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This is my latest post for GrowingKids.org.
The marriage relationship is very important and fundamental to the health of the family. I have yet to read a parenting book that states that parents should put the child first (I am not saying there isn’t a parenting book out there that says that, but I haven’t read it). Everything I have read has said to put your spouse first. For those who are divorced, these books discuss the importance of creating a united front for your child. A healthy relationship between the mother and father is very important for children.
Putting marriage first is highly stressed in the On Becoming series. The first topic discussed in On Becoming Babywise is the importance of family relationships, stressing the relationship between you and your spouse. The placement of this chapter should stand out to you. It wasn’t placed at the end of the book as an afterthought. It is the foremost topic. This is a book written for parents seeking sleeping and eating advice, and yet the authors start off with the marriage relationship. It is that important.
Of course, not all people believe the husband/wife relationship should come first. There are parents who have the conversation and agree to put the children first. I have discussed this further in Put Your Marriage First .
I think that most people who use Babywise/GKGW principles in their home agree that the marriage relationship should come first and be a strong one. Many may wonder how to do this. Sure, you were in love while you dated. As newlyweds, you loved spending time together. It is simpler before you have children. Each child brings a new dynamic to the picture. It is easy for parents to get wrapped up in their children and put their own relationship on hold. Why did it get so difficult?
There is something important to keep in mind. Having a strong marriage relationship takes work. You must give effort to building and strengthening your relationship. Popular advice is to go on a weekly date night. That is good advice, but that in and of itself will not solve all of your problems. I know a couple who did that each week for years, but when the children were all gone and moved out of the house, they faced each other as strangers. They had each put all of their efforts into their children. Yes, they went on a date each week, but they didn’t utilize those dates to build their relationship as a couple.
Here are some ideas for strengthening your bond as a couple:
- Develop Unity: As a couple, you want to be unified. You want to be as one. Be loyal to each other. You need to value each other as equal partners. You and your spouse are two different people. You have different characteristics, strengths, weakness, and abilities. Learn to take the best of each of you to create one strong front.
- Nurture Love and Friendship: You got married for a reason. Nurture your love for each other. Express your love in various ways and show kindness toward one another.
- Have Strength Through Challenges: Challenges will arise, there is no doubt about that. They might be financial. They might be with children. They might be through health or death. Perhaps a natural disaster will come your way. You will experience challenges through simply aging. When these challenges arise, meet them with love and patience, rather than frustration and anger.
- Have Positive Communication: Positive communication is so important in all relationships. Since as a married couple you work so closely with each other, there is great tendency to lose sight of kind manners toward one another. Yes, you will disagree. You are two different people. Yes, you will think the other one is strange and hard to understand at times. You can seek to find the good in each other. Learning good communication skills will help you to make it through any challenge that comes your way.
- Strengthen Marriage through Faith and Prayer: You will bond as a couple as you come together for prayer and show faith in the Lord.
- Forgive Each Other: I am sure you already know there will be need to forgive each other. Your spouse will say something that hurts your feelings. You will do the same. As you offend, seek forgiveness. As you are offended, seek to forgive.
- Manage Finances: An overwhelming majority of marriages dissolve due to financial stress. Work together to manage your finances. This is an important area for each of you to honestly assess your strengths and weaknesses. Working together, you can keep money as little bit of a stress factor as possible.
Each of these ideas is very broad. Each idea could be at least on post by itself (don’t worry, it will be soon J ). Do they seem too simple? They are simple. But they cover all that is necessary for keeping your marriage relationship strong. There is no need to overcomplicate the issue. Applying these tips will help you and your spouse to come together as one, giving a great gift to each other and your children.
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