I had a conversation many years ago with a young lady who was bemoaning the state of her marriage. She and her husband had two children, and she absolutely adored them. She loved taking them places, spending time with them and made them the center of her life. Her husband, however, felt neglected, which often led to arguments. Tension and frustration ran high, and divorce talk was in the air.
“He doesn’t have his priorities straight,” she lamented, imploring me with her eyes and body language to see her point. “In any family, the children have to come first.” I had the difficult task of informing her that she was wrong. Dead wrong.
The most important relationship in any family is the one between husband and wife. It is this relationship that totally defines the family. It is not only the foundation of the home, it is its walls and roof as well. Want to know what the children are? The lights that shine from the windows, giving reflection to all who pass of the life within.
In some homes, children rule. They define the interactions, priorities, decisions and how time is spent. Even if the children are not actively throwing tantrums to get their way, parents in these homes have relinquished authority to their offspring. It’s like they’ve surrendered being husband and wife in order to promote parenthood over marriage.
Not only is this a design for a disastrous marriage (the sinking sand model), it doesn’t come close to being biblical. Consider the following:
- Husband and wife are two people who become like one, body, mind and spirit. Children do not enjoy this special relationship until they leave home for their own spouse. Genesis 2:24, Matthew 19:5,6
- Children are to give honor to the father and mother as being superior in stature and authority, not so much as parents but as husband and wife heads of household. Deuteronomy 5:16, Ephesians 6:1-3
If children are to enjoy the strength, stability, reassurance, joy, love and the embodiment of faithful Christian living demonstrated in a godly marriage as discussed in yesterday’s post, it can only happen with the proper ranking of priorities - God first, marriage second, children last. Any other arrangement will produce a family that is off kilter and ineffective in both its Christian walk and testimony to others.