Recently I was catching up on some podcasts and I listened to one on having a Marriage-Centered Family. It was so good! They shared about the biblical truths of modeling a god-centered, marriage-first family and how that creates emotional security for children. They talked about simple ways to do this so children experience a secure home, and how it in-turn promotes a strong foundation for positive self esteem and secure children.
If I’m honest, though, I struggled with living this out in the beginning of our blended family. I was struggling to know how to have a marriage-centered family while learning how to navigate blended family life, in general. I love my husband and stepchildren deeply, we were all just in unfamiliar territory trying to find our way.
So, trying to do our best to help our children adjust, we focused on them. Our calendar was packed full with sports activities, sleepovers, the visitation schedule, and running a business. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way, because it allowed me to forge precious bonds with my stepchildren by being present in parts of their lives important to them. Still, by default, adulthood mixed with parenthood means seasons when there’s little to no accidental time left over. Part of me thought this was the way we were supposed to do “blended family life”.
Until one day still early in our marriage, my stepdaughter said something that reset my perspective. She’d had an argument with her group of friends, and she was talking about change and how friends come and go, and just in passing said, “Would we keep in touch if you and Dad don’t stay together?” In that moment I realized our attempts to prioritize them was actually robbing them from experiencing important truths about what God was doing in our family through our marriage. Redemption. Grace. Security. They needed to know the marriage they were surrounded by was rock solid. Covenant solid.
That statement from my tender-hearted stepdaughter helped me understand the power of not simply having a godly healthy marriage, but purposefully demonstrating it for our children.
Whether your home is a home where your children live 24/7, or if you’re in a blended family and your children are with you only portions of time, it’s vital to be intentional to help your children experience life within a healthy marriage. Even in those hectic seasons of parenthood, it’s still possible to prioritize your marriage in fun ways for you and your spouse and your children to see. They need it. You and your spouse need it. And while prioritizing your marriage isn’t simply about prioritizing time, it’s an important component.
Here’s a few tips to help get started:
– Decide. Decide you’re going to carve time out for one another. No more left overs.
– Schedule. For some of us, this may even require scheduling time to schedule it… schedule it! Then protect the time.
– Simplify. This can be super simple. The couple on the podcast talked about how they committed to go on a walk together weekly and they had it set on their calendar. Their kids ask to go from time to time, but they use that opportunity to explain the importance of their marriage and their kids were able to experience their parents choosing one another in a sweet way.
And for the couple in a blended family? You’re not alone. We often schedule our date time on the weekends our children are with their other parent, don’t we? I get it. We’ve done it, too. However, we run the risk of not showing our children what a healthy marriage looks like. Let’s be tender, but be purposeful about demonstrating a marriage-centered home.
No matter the family make-up, we want our children to end up in loving, healthy marriages where their spouse cherishes them and chooses them. So, while they’re young, let’s show them what that looks like.