The following blog is a reprint of an article I wrote published in Proverbs 31 Magazine (2004).
As parents, it is often difficult to keep from devoting every single ounce of energy to our children. When they are babies, we are responsible for caring for their every need. As they grow and become more independent, we are there to haul them to and from the myriad of activities they are involved in.
Unfortunately, as a result, sometimes our marriage relationship suffers. Sometimes we are so caught up in our kids; we wake up one day and wonder who this strange man is sleeping beside us (even if he isn’t snoring!).
One of the best pieces of marital advice my husband and I still hold to came from the pastor who married us, Reverend R.F. Smith. During our pre-marriage counseling, he asked us to hold hands forming a circle.
“When your children come along, where will they go in relationship to your circle?” he asked. Without hesitating, Joe and I pointed to the center of the circle. It seemed like the natural place for the children to go. Our pastor stepped into our circle as our “children”.
He then explained that at some point those children will go off to college, have careers and eventually form their own family. He stepped out of our circle to demonstrate, and we quickly realized our circle was empty.
“Here is a better alternative,” he continued as he joined hands with Joe and me forming a larger circle. “Make your children part of your circle, not the center of it. He stepped out of our circle and Joe and I joined hands once again. “Make God the center of your circle and it will never be empty.”
I am so thankful for that priceless advice – especially when Joe and I struggled through four years of infertility before conceiving our first daughter. After facing the possibility of never having our own children, it would have been very easy for us to make our children our “raison d’etre”.
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33 NIV)
And all these things will be given to you – including a loving, healthy, strong relationship with our husbands! Imagine a triangle with Jesus as the top point. Put you and your husband at the bottom two points. Now trace the path on each side to the top. It is unavoidable! If you and your husband are reaching for Jesus, you will get closer and closer to each other.
Yes, it is our responsibility as Christian parents to meet the needs of our children and to nurture them into godly young people. But by demonstrating to our kids a loving, Christ-centered marriage, our actions can teach them more than our words ever could.