The Greatest Gift we can Give our Children is to Love our Spouse
by Kathleen Billings
Last week I took my youngest daughter, age 9, to South Haven, Michigan for a quick two-day mommy/daughter beach get away. Sandwiched in the middle of four other siblings who all compete for my attention, Marianna was thrilled to have me all to herself for two days. For me, it was pure joy to spend alone time with my daughter.
While we were lazily floating on inner tubes in the water, we shared with each other five things we love about the other person. The second thing that Marianna said was, “Mommy I love that YOU LOVE DADDY!” I responded, “Yes, honey, I do – very much!” For a moment I was taken aback that at age 9 my daughter unknowingly communicated a profound truth – the greatest gift we can give our children is to love our spouse.
A strong marriage where love between spouses is visible and tangible provides security and stability for children and an atmosphere in which they can thrive. When children question their parents love for one another, they often begin to question God’s love for them. Children come to know the love of God through the love their parents have not only for them, but for each other. If you want your children to experience God’s love, then be willing to do what it takes to fully and selflessly love your spouse.
The family is the school of love. When I am tired and frustrated, there are many moments when I am tempted to say something to Troy that I shouldn’t, but I try to stop myself and ask God to zip my mouth. I know little ears are listening, little eyes are watching, and two teenagers are observing. Taking a moment to whisper a prayer soliciting the help of the Holy Spirit to be with us before we act or speak, in moments where our strength is lacking, often saves the day. It turns a potential disastrous moment into a lesson of love. If any one of our children witnesses my husband and I treating one another with a lack of respect and love, it does damage to their impressionable hearts and causes division within our family.
When Troy and I need to resolve a large conflict, we step away and discuss it privately. If it is a smaller, more trivial issue, we often talk it out in the presence of our children to teach them conflict resolution skills and demonstrate how conflicts can be resolved in a spirit of love and respect.
It can be alluring to fall into the trap of putting our children before our spouse because they are often more demanding of our time and love. –Sometimes it seems as though they are easier to love. If we are not purposeful in loving our spouse first, we can create disorder in our home which causes chaos and instability. The final result is insecure children and an unhappy family life.
Troy and I want to raise confident children and we long for them to experience the love of God through our love for one another. We also strive to model what they should eventually look for in a potential husband or wife. St. Mother Teresa said, “Love to be real, [it] must be empty of self.” I know that if I want to truly love Troy, and through loving him, love my children, then I need to decrease and let Christ increase in me. I need Him to love my family well.
To hear my daughter say, “I love that you love daddy” brought me such joy and simultaneously brought me to the feet of Jesus, once again, begging for His grace to keep loving my husband, my children’s father, with His love. There is no greater gift I can give my children