To have a thriving marriage in the middle of diapers and soccer games, you have to know the difference between marriage and parenting.
Parenting is different from marriage because parenting is about “leaving” and marriage is about “holding fast” forever (Genesis 2:24). So you parent expecting your kids to one day leave, while you marry hoping your spouse never will. For this reason, your marriage relationship must be primary, and your parenting relationship must be secondary.
However, we often make kids primary in an attempt to hold on to each fleeting moment, while our marriages get the backseat. When this happens, spouses become roommates and taxi drivers rather than lovers and friends, and romance fades over time. To avoid this, you must kid proof your marriage and here are three ways to do it.
First, you need to make God the center of your family. (Deut. 6:4-5)
For your marriage and parenting to thrive, you must put God first, aiming for a God-centered marriage, rather than a kids-centered or spouse-centered marriage.
Secondly, you need to love your spouse more than your kids. (Song of Solomon 6:3)
This sounds harsh, but loving your husband or wife more than your kids is essential to having a thriving marriage that will last after the kids are gone. Loving your spouse more is not being mean to your children, it is giving them a great gift. I grew up in a home where I felted loved deeply, yet at the same time, I knew my dad loved my mom more than me. Rather than harming me, it gave me the stability I needed to thrive under, and a model I could follow.
Lastly, do less so you can be together more. (Deut 6:6-9)
Let’s first admit we are not a do less culture! We love being busy, and we wear busyness like a badge of honor. Our love for busyness produces Disneyland style parenting, where parents become taxi drivers so kids can pursue every possible opportunity they can imagine. But during all the commuting, families often miss what’s most important (God and each other).
The solution is trading Disneyland Parenting for Discipleship Parenting (Deuteronomy 6:7-8). First commit to (1) worship God together, (2) spend quality time together, and (3) enjoy rest together. Once these three start happening in your home, then you can add additional things. But here is the catch, you must not let any of the extra things steal from the three most important things (God, time together, rest).
Husbands and wives, don’t neglect your spouse during the busy season of raising kids. Instead cherish and treasure them so that when your kids do finally leave, your spouse won’t leave with them.