CHILDREN COME SECOND?

When it comes to marriage, Lea and I struggle with the same things you struggle with. We often find ourselves taking one another for granted for the sake of less important things. Things like busyness, work and hobbies will always crowd a marriage for time, but I think the biggest challenge for any marriage, including ours, is balancing marriage and raising children. This is especially a struggle when you have young children.

I firmly believe that the ONLY thing that should be more important than your marriage is your relationship with God. Raising your children should be of the utmost importance, but not so important that you put your relationship with your husband/wife on the back burner. One couple recently said this about their marriage, “We don’t have a marriage, we have a business. We make money, pay bills and raise kids, period.” How sad!

I’m amazed at how many people justify putting their marriages on the back burner for their children’s sake. If you invest all your energies into your children and none into your marriage, your marriage will struggle to survive when the kids are grown. What happens is, once the kids are grown, you’ll look across the table at your marriage partner and realize you really don’t have anything in common anymore.

So to keep your marriage happy and healthy, you’re going to have to be willing to invest time in it. Finding time to reconnect in your marriage is healthy. Lea and I strongly feel that raising our boys takes lots of time and energy, but not to the point that we lose the healthiness of our marriage. We personally feel that we must reconnect regularly for our marriage to remain healthy. Sometimes we reconnect in our marriage by simply …

  • Finding time a couple of times a week to go for a 30 minute walk together.
  • Going on a date once a week and trying to talk about things other than just the kids.
  • Calling home from work just to say “hello.”
  • Spending twenty minutes at a Sonic drive-up just to talk.
  • Having lunch together.
  • Going grocery shopping together.

And it’s very healthy when we can occasionally …

  • Spend a night away somewhere.
  • Have a whole weekend away.

Our children are SO important in our lives, and we should be investing a ton of time into the ministry of parenthood. But our children also need to see their parents display a healthy marriage, and for that to happen it takes investing time. That’s why finding ways to reconnect is so important.

TWO QUESTIONS I’D LOVE TO KNOW:

1. Do you struggle with this?

2. What are some ways you reconnect with your spouse?

———————

(COMMENT OF THE DAY: nick gill said… “I like how you concluded this blog: because a major part of the ministry of parenthood *is* modeling healthy adulthood for your children.I think we should strive for a more holistic approach rather than a hard-and-fast, simple hierarchy that I’ve heard taught before.

The mutuality and flexibility of real love mean that you never know which concern needs to be #1 at a particular moment. Saying — #1 – God#2 – Marriage#3 – Children– and carving that in stone just won’t do.

All of these are ministries: the ministries of marriage and parenting are ways of loving God. Worship and spouse-loving are ways of ministering to your children. And child-rearing and worship are ways of loving your spouse. Knowing which one needs my focus *right now* is a matter of wisdom and prayer and gallons and gallons of grace.It ain’t TV-love, but I don’t think any of us will mind that too much, will me?)”

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Article by Trey Morgan

I am a Christian husband and father, who moonlights as the minister for the church of Christ in Childress, Texas. My wife Lea and I have been married for 25 years. We are doing our best to raise our 4 boys, who are all growing up way too fast. Read 1182 articles by
21 Comments Post a Comment
  1. nick gill says:

    I like how you concluded this blog: because a major part of the ministry of parenthood *is* modeling healthy adulthood for your children.

    I think we should strive for a more holistic approach rather than a hard-and-fast, simple hierarchy that I’ve heard taught before. The mutuality and flexibility of real love mean that you never know which concern needs to be #1 at a particular moment. Saying —

    #1 – God
    #2 – Marriage
    #3 – Children

    — and carving that in stone just won’t do. All of these are ministries: the ministries of marriage and parenting are ways of loving God. Worship and spouse-loving are ways of ministering to your children. And child-rearing and worship are ways of loving your spouse. Knowing which one needs my focus *right now* is a matter of wisdom and prayer and gallons and gallons of grace.

    It ain’t TV-love, but I don’t think any of us will mind that too much, will me?

  2. karin says:

    I’ve seen too many marriages where the children come first and the husband is considered to be one of her children! I just cringe when I observe that happening! You are absolutely right that your relationship with the Lord is first and then your marriage and then your children. I believe that biblical!

    That’s how it was in our marriage and we’ve been together for 43 years! The only thing some have in common is the children and when they leave and move far away, like you say, the couple has nothing in common.

    Oh it wasn’t always easy to take time away because your budget is limited when you are in ministry – at least it was in our day. And even with making sure that our marriage came before our children, there are now unexpected health issues that attack the relationship and make having things in common nearly impossible. But God is good and will give the strength to carry on until the end.

    A cord of three is hard to break.

  3. Doug Young says:

    Trey,

    Tisha and I find it hard. We, like you and Lea, are pulled in so many different directions.

    Recently, Tisha has become my part-time secretary, and that affords us with more time together, but it doesn’t produce the kinds of connections that really help “us” though. All its seemed to do is give her a better understanding of how frustrating ministry can be. That’s not good in and of itself.

    We have found something, though, in the spontaneous text message. Sometimes a text comes when you need it the most. All it has to say is “I Love You” and it hits the spot.

  4. TREY MORGAN says:

    Nick – As always, wonderfully said. Your last two paragraphs dripped with excellent wisdom.

    Karin – I’ve seen a lot of marriages where the husband was considered one of the kids too. Not a healthy situation.

    Doug – Part time secretary. Sweet. I love the text messaging thought, just don’t mess up and send it to the wrong person :)

  5. Jackie says:

    I would say that this is very common. With us having 2 kids under the age of 3 and both work full-time jobs it is a constant struggle. Although, when I can tell the pressure is at its peak I know that we have to go somewhere alone. I think it is harder for me than my husband b/c as a Mom I feel guilty for having to leave my kids 45 hours a week @ daycare.

    Thanks for the reminder on this subject!!

  6. Larissa says:

    Great post, I’m not married, but will be again someday and it being the second time around, I CAN’T AGREE MORE!!! I have this one friend who says, “We can’t have a babysitter”, when asked why she says it’s because they can’t afford it. In my opinion, you can’t afford not to. You can work things out, trade babysitting with a friend, or whatever…but couples MUST spend time together.

  7. Stoogelover says:

    Having our children raised and now (at least one of them) raising his own family, we’ve weathered this part of the journey. Because we work in a family business and work together in the same office, we very seldom experience a moment in the day when we are not together. So that means we have to be intentional about not taking each other for granted. There are times when we have to say things to each other regarding the business that has to be said with love, but with firmness and when the day is very hectic (and there can be many such days) we have to be even more careful to be intentional about our love and relationship. (That was a LONG sentence!)

    I think I was actually trying to make a point … we reconnect by making time to be with each other completely free of work. We do a lot of cuddling on the sofa at night, watching favorite shows we recorded. We do a lot of “together” things around the house. We go out to eat often.

    Your blog today is a good reminder for us all.

  8. Tyler Wainright says:

    I’m so glad you talked about this! I believe that your marriage should come before children. After all, don’t we want to set the bar high for our kids?

    I want to show them that my relationship with my wife is important so my 2 daughters look for that in any may they decide to date/marry in the future.

    I don’t want my wife and I to grow apart while our kids are growing up…we should grow stronger because we’ll need each other more and more as our kids get older.

  9. cwinwc says:

    1. Yes. Both of us are teachers so even when we’re at work, we’re not away from “the kids.” Both of us love to teach but as with “our” own children, the little buggers take a lot of energy out of us by day’s end. Both of us being involved at church adds another energy drain in our lives albeit a “good one” but still a drain on the energy we have left when we come home.

    2. There are some “obvious” (I say “obvious” because as you said, there are so many who do not do these things and thus their marriages suffer) ways to stay connected – dates, walks, nights or weekends away. We try to keep the “youthfulness” in our relationship. We kid each other, hug each other, sometimes even chase (most of the time I’m the “chaser”) each other, or in other words, some of the things we did when we began dating and we’re first married.

  10. Gabrielle Eden says:

    I reconnect with m spouse in my dreams…I’m not married. Good thoughts. I’ve heard that children are most secure who know their parents love each other.

  11. Jenschke Family says:

    Oh Trey, have you been watching us the last few weeks? Wow! I was just on my way home from town (third time today) and feeling sorry for myself because my husband was gone again! I am left here to take care of homework, housework, food patrol, pig feeder, car pool driver…. Sound familiar?

    Lonnie and I have been working so hard this year to make our marriage a priority and it has made such a difference. We have to take time and it may be at midnight or 5 am but we have some time every day together. Yes, Lonnie travels A LOT but he calls home regularly and tries to call late when the kids “should” be in bed.

    Thanks for always reminding us of what is important in our lives. You are such a wise man!

  12. jerriann says:

    Thank you so much for your words of wisdom here and for all the comments your readers left. I couldn’t agree more, a three cord braid is hard to break. Marriage is hard work, but the alternative is a tragedy too many make. We think this thing is just too hard and decide it would be better to divorce. But the truth is that same problems follow and you are the only common denominator. Children are either the beneficiaries of a good marriage or the victims of a bad one.

  13. jasonbrowning says:

    Trey, Cody and I aren’t always as consistent as we would like to be, but we have found that when we take 20 minutes after dinner to just sit down (just us) and talk about our days, it helps. We make the kids go in their room and play or whatever, but that 20 minutes is ours. We clearly notice the difference when we don’t do it.

    We are pretty good at texting each other throughout the day also. I did it a lot in June when we were apart for almost the entire month. And she has expected me to keep it up ever since, 😉

    Great blog. I appreciate you more than you know…

  14. westcoastwitness.com says:

    This is something I struggle with. It’s tough to make time sometimes – especially with a one and a two year old.

  15. fouros says:

    I love your blog! I found it via a friend of a friend and appreciate how honest and encouraging it is. I firmly believe one of the best ways I can love my kids is to love their daddy. He works evenings as police officer so we have to be creative in how we find time to connect, but I sure notice the difference in the overall atmosphere of our household when we work hard to make this happen. Thanks for blogging…love the running blog too! My husband and I are training for the OK city 1/2..our second time (loved it last year!) May grace and peace be yours!

  16. Anonymous says:

    If you invest time with your spouse as you raise your children, not only will your marriage be better but the children’s marriages. Retirement is way too long if you two don’t enjoy each other on a daily basis. It is far too short if hearing your husband’s truck a block away makes you feel like your date is just about to begin.

  17. TREY MORGAN says:

    Jackie – It’s really tough when you have children the age of yours. I know it’s tough to leave them to find time alone, but worth it in the end.

    Larissa – I agree, you can always work it out (babysitting) if it’s a priority.

    Greg – We should be learning from you guys. I’d love a job where I work with my children some day.

    Tyler – You are a smart man, and your two daughters will be blessed to have a daddy like you.

    cwinwc – Both teachers? Wow! You are in my prayers :)

    Larry – It does feel like a sprint sometimes … but it’s really a marathon. Well said.

  18. TREY MORGAN says:

    Jenschke’s – It is SO tough when one of the spouses are not able to be home all the time. And just so you’ll know, I wrote this whole post for you guys :) (kidding)

    Jerriann – Well said.

    Jason – Good thinking. There are times Lea and I sit at the table after everyone has left. I hadn’t thought of that one.

    westcoastwitness – you are right, small children make it tough. You guys must be REALLY busy with those two. :)

    fouros – Thanks for your kind words. I’m hoping to make the OKC memorial run this year. I’m sure we’ll bump in to one another :) Since there will only be 20,000 people there. ha

  19. Searching says:

    AMEN! Ward and June had it right!

  20. Searching says:

    oh, changed my blog name fillmycup to searching. Didn’t want ya to think I stopped reading the blog.

  21. nick gill says:

    Thanks, Trey. I’m honored by your kindness.

    My one comment on the baby-sitting issue is that we who know about needs like that need to see those situations with Matthew 25 eyes. We’ve got to work on being the grace (or finding the grace, or providing the grace) that those harried and confused parents need.

    I completely agree that if it is a priority, we can find ways to work it out — but shyness and fear and financial issues often weaken our resolve at the moment of asking for help. If our congregations are places where grace is being poured out… babysitting might be one way that a small group or just a Christian family or two decide to live out their faith.

    in HIS love,
    nick

About Me

Trey Morgan Here are my thoughts about marriage, family, raising children, humor, faith and the life God intended for us all. I am a Christian husband and father, who moonlights as the minister for the church of Christ in Childress, Texas. My wife Lea and I have been married for 25 years. We are doing our best to raise our 4 boys, who are all growing up way too fast.

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