I had some pictures show up in my Facebook feed yesterday that got me thinking. These pictures were of my daughter from birth until about 1 1/2. I am beyond blessed in my family, a loving and amazing wife and fantastic children. No matter how frustrated I might be in the rest of my life, reflecting on the blessings at home for just a few minutes reminds me of all that God has done.
Yet many in positions similar to mine don’t look at it this way. They find themselves dissatisfied with married or family life and ignore the blessings God has provided. Many proceed quickly to divorce, others stick it out “for the kids”. Neither of these options are God-honoring.
Kids are more perceptive than we often realize. They notice little things and will usually ask questions. “What’s that behind your back?” they ask when you try to sneak a cookie without them seeing. By the time my oldest two were 1 1/2 years old, treats had to be consumed quickly in the kitchen or after they were put to bed if I didn’t want to share. Parents, you know what I’m talking about. With their ability to notice these sorts of things, children are also aware when Mom and Dad aren’t getting along with each other or when Mom and Dad think the kids are bothersome.
Even well-meaning parents don’t seem to realize how they are setting themselves up for potential marital failure when they focus on their children. What can happen is that after the last of the children are out of the house, the parents no longer know each other because they spent all of their time on their kids. I think this is the cause of many “surprise” divorces that happen later in life: husband and wife no longer have anything in common and they don’t know how to rekindle their connection, so they let it go.
One of the biggest pieces of advice I’ve heard and would thus repeat is that husbands and wives need to make every effort to prioritize each other after God and before the kids. I get that it’s tough, especially when the kids are young. Out-of-sync schedules don’t help, either. My kids don’t typically go to bed until about 9 (it’s a rare occasion when they are tired enough to stay in bed and go to sleep at 8), and 9 is about when I want to get to bed, too, since I try to get up at 4:45. Unfortunately my wife’s bedtime is off-set by 1-3 hours, and she doesn’t get up until I’ve already been at work for an hour or more. I don’t have good answers for how to overcome this, but we are at least aware that prioritizing each other is vital to our marriage.
Getting back to those who have divorce in mind, if you want to honor God and have Him bless you in return, you’re going to have to step up and fulfill your marital duties. Ephesians 5 talks about wives submitting to husbands and husbands loving wives as Christ loved the church, but no where does it say spouses are to fulfill their roles as long as the other is picking up the slack. Do what you are supposed to be doing, and your spouse may respond in kind. But by doing what you should be doing, I expect that you will learn to love your spouse and will be willing to fight for your marriage.