Sunday, January 16, 2011

Your marriage comes first?

I was just reading at one of my favorite sites:, and I had to post this part of an article that questions baby training. I am not married, never have been, but plan to be sometime in the not-so-distant future, and this really spoke to me.

"My baby needs to learn that our marriage comes first."

Interestingly enough, there isn't a strong Biblical case for placing the marriage relationship first. The epistles, for example, in their discussion of the roles within the family, never make any statements about the supremacy of the marriage relationship over all other relationships within the family. While it is clear that our marriage is to reflect the relationship between Christ and His Church, it is not clear that we are to give our marriage relationship some sort of exalted status over the rest of the family. In fact, one might argue that, just as the Church is to focus her efforts on making disciples, our marriages are to be focused on making disciples of our children and raising them to the glory of God.

My husband and I are growing more and more disenchanted with some of the fruit we see of the "our marriage comes first" mentality. Often, all sorts of selfish behavior is excused. Infants and babies are left with virtual strangers so that parents can attempt to recapture some sort of fantasy dating relationship. Grandparents are imposed upon to watch children for "weekend getaways" and even entire vacations. (Some grandparents have been emotionally manipulated: "You want our marriage to survive, don't you? Well, it won't if we have the children under foot every day.") The children are seen as hindrances to maintaining a good marriage relationship, rather than the fruit of the relationship and a natural part of that relationship.

Worst of all is that too many of those who put their marriage first are willing, when troubles come, to abandon the marriage. The idea of maintaining a healthy marriage for the sake of the children is horribly old-fashioned. Why, it's far too child-centered for today.

However, we are gratified and encouraged to discover that there are many parents who are unashamedly family-centered. One father wrote online that he and his wife had decided to include their children in their anniversary celebration because, "after all, our children are an important part of our marriage". This inspired us, on our last anniversary, to celebrate in a different way. We decided it was one of our most enjoyable anniversaries yet! We sat at a lovely table for two and were served by a bevy of small waiters and one cute little waitress. They had a wonderful time and we were continually reminded of the fact that our marriage and our children are all wrapped up together, just as God intended.

Having a good, strong marriage does not require us to act, periodically, as if our children don't exist. We don't need to get away from them once a week for date nights. We don't need to view our children as potential marriage-wreckers but rather should view them as marriage-enhancers. Our babies will grow to learn how important our marriage is to us by observing whether our husbands love us as Christ loves the Church and whether we submit to our husbands with respect. Dumping young children with babysitters or refusing to talk to them for the first twenty minutes that Daddy is home from work won't teach them much of anything, other than that we are rather selfish and rude.

That's all I have to say, and I'm not even the one that said it!


  1. I think the entity that should be prioritized is the family. Then, within the family I believe each individual needs some time alone and some time with a subset of the family. My son loves to play alone with his toys from time to time, my daughter loves some time alone with her stuffed animals and they deserve that. Similarly, I truly enjoy reading a book by myself or even going on a grocery trip without the kids. Then we all have a good time when I spend some time with one kid and my husband spends time with the other one. These little exceptional "getaways" from family time strengthen the network of ties between family members and improve the overall health of our family.
    I think getting time alone with my husband follows the same logic. It's something we will do from time to time, we don't "need to get away from the kids" but we enjoy that special time together.
    I don't thing the marriage (relationship between the 2 parents) has any more value than the relationship between any other 2 members of the family.

    Your article also reminded me of the usual argument that it's ok to be selfish because then you're more happy and it makes you a better mom/dad so being selfish is not so selfish after all. I respond to that by saying: do what you've got to do but don't make up excuses for it.

  2. You're comments are so insightful, I think you should really be writing this blog, Steph. :)