My family sat around the table, teasing and joking and laughing, lingering, happy to be with each other. As I watched on in wonder I thought, "This is US, our family, our team." I turned to look at my husband, guffawing along, his pride in them visible in the twinkle of his eyes, and I recognized the real miracle our union has been. Our relationship has been wonderful and satisfying and beautiful, but our children have made it good and right and perfect. In that moment, it occurred to me our kids deserve some credit for our longevity as a couple, for their presence in our lives honed essential skills in a healthy marriage.
Our children forced us to be less selfish.
A man may be able to ignore a naggy wife, but a screaming baby at 3:AM will get their attention. Though it taxed us greatly, learning to put ourselves aside for the sake of the kids ended up being an invaluable lesson for our marriage. Raising kids brings infinite opportunities for ignoring your own wants. Once you do it as a parent, you know it's possible and necessary as a spouse too.
Our children taught us teamwork.
Meeting the needs of four kids by yourself is impossible. Working together bound us as a team, a unit, a group united in one purpose. We shifted from you and me to US. The more people we added to our team, the greater the stakes, motivating us to work harder to stay together. Having kids taught us what it means to "take one for the team."
Our children develop perseverance in us.
Chicken pox and separation anxiety and potty training may make you crazy, but eventually they go away. There are days as a parent, you just have to breathe and do the right thing, knowing the current problem will pass. The same is true of marriage. My husband expects a few "blue" days from his wife each month and knows it doesn't mean he's failed me. I understand when he's stressed he needs a quiet listener, even when I'd rather not. We both suck it up and do what's right because having kids has trained us to do so.
Our children are proof of the goodness of our union.
As I watch our family at the dinner table, I am in awe. Our kids aren't perfect, but their hearts lean toward God. They love us and each other and as they get older, I see they truly like each other too. They possess humor and creativity and vision. We have distinct individual personalities, but our family as a whole has a personality too. We are one. There is belonging and camaraderie. God created something very good when he brought Kevin and I together twenty-five years ago. Our kids prove it.
Our children bring us to our knees.
Nothing has brought us as much joy or pierced our hearts like our kids. When issues come up we feel inept to handle (far more than I'd like to admit), we turn to God. Bringing up children gives ample opportunities to fall before Him. We would have encountered this without kids, but for me, being responsible for little lives was a crash course in seeking God. Though it can be painful, is there anything better than finding God's presence? Is that not gold?!
Undoubtedly our children trained us as much as we trained them. They forced us to use characteristics we never knew we had. So let me take this moment to officially thank my children. Drummer Boy, Drama Queen, Ladies Man, Miss Innocent One, you've played a major role in the making of our marriage. Without being aware of it, you brought your dad and I closer by partnering us in this venture called parenting. You taught us to look beyond ourselves, to work for the good of others. You forced us to reach out to God for help. You solidified our family unit and gave us a reason to work harder as husband and wife. I thank God you were gracious and didn't take it personally when we snuck off for time by ourselves. I pray God gives each of you a mate and children who show you grace as mine have. Thank you. You have enhanced our lives in so many ways. We love you, so much, and will always be on your side.
Our relationship has been wonderful and satisfying and beautiful, but our children have made it good and right and perfect.
How have your children built your marriage?
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