Strengthening Your Marriage

This is not my concept... It has been said before, by many different people, but bears repeating here because I know the truth of it -

“The most important thing parents can do for their kids is to love each other.”

This concept is more than just a simple phrase. It has a truth, and an impact that filters down through every layer of life.

If the marriage is strong, the family is strong. Parents who learn to have good relationships with each other will then foster good relationships with their children because both relationships involve a common set of skills. Children who are secure in their parent's love for each other are more secure in believing their parents love them as well. Children who see examples of good relationships between parents will be better able to build strong relationships themselves. And when the family is stable, the child's individual emotional health is more stable than if the family is not stable.

This means that between a couple, the most important relationship is between each other. No one else should ever be allowed to manipulate that relationship – not their parents, not outside friendships, and not the children.

When children begin having behavioral problems, it is critical that parents do three things:

1. Agree on an approach together. Try hard to consistently present a united position on the issue with the child. The approach must be loving, and firm, with the same consequence applied no matter who is giving it.

2. Be forgiving of one another. Even if both parents agree on a position, their individual actions in regard to it may be different, and may appear to not uphold the agreement. So patience and forgiveness is essential, and kind communication will help keep judgment out of it.

3. Nurture the marriage. When trouble with kids develops, whether that trouble is behavioral, medical, emotional, or physical, it is easy to lose the marriage in the effort to cope. You don't have to follow any rules about "go on a date once a week", or "talk once a day", or any other arbitrary rules that are impractical for your situation. But do come up with SOME way to regularly touch bases with one another, and to enjoy one another's company.

It is often hard to know whether your priority is the perceived emotional health and needs of a child, or the needs of your marriage. And while there are degrees of importance here, and no set answer, there is a guideline. Consider carefully whether problems with your marriage will make the problem with the child worse. If this is the case, and often it is, then the marriage is the clear priority.