Permit me to clear the air about our topic. I am not referring to changing our spouses to act in certain ways which are preferable to us. Rather, I am referring to what we teach, share and model to our children through our daily interactions with our spouses. In the words of a friend, ‘every day is a classroom; every person is a teacher and every experience a lesson’. Directly or indirectly, we are painting a picture of marriage on the canvas of the minds of our children. Each action points to what may likely be repeated in their future marriages. Hence the imperative need to deliberately work at having a desirable marriage that our kids can equally look forward to having. Having a desirable marriage requires more than mere wishes. I can assure you that it is not a walk in the park. We need to proactively make it happen as we depend on God for wisdom to do the needful.
Whatever you think about all day long is what you become. In life, you don’t get what you deserve, but what you attract. In other words, your marital success is a product of your dominant thought pattern. This is often initiated by the information we allow through our eyes and ears (the gate keepers of our minds). Charles Jones once said ‘a person’s life in five years can be predicted based on the books he reads and the friends he keeps’. Consequently, as parents, we have the responsibility to guard our minds diligently because either consciously or subconsciously, its results create a ripple effect on our kids.
Below are some ideas that come to mind on how we can raise our kids to be good spouses.
- Model.It is no gain saying that kids learn more from what they see than what they hear. Kids watch how their mom and dad treat and interact with each other – and that is the model they just might live out in their own marriage. But not just how we are in our marriage but in life in general. It is a thought that can drive us crazy, but the reality is, they are watching – and catching what they see. You had better be caught doing the right thing… I bet you won’t like your married daughter tomorrow tell you that ‘Mom, you taught me to be rude to my husband because I remember vividly how you rudely spoke to Dad when we were much younger’.
- Respect.Respect is a fundamental value that should be instilled in our kids from their early childhood which will be easier as they watch us respect each other as spouses. Let’s teach our kids to help older people, hold the door for women, look out for their younger siblings, speak politely, be courteous, forgive one another and not allow bitterness grow in their tender and precious hearts against anyone. If they watch us iron out our differences without yelling at each other or resorting to labelling and name calling, they will naturally gravitate towards the same lifestyle.
- What to Look For.I believe in teaching a child what to look for in a spouse. Our kids, just like some of us, may be attracted to some wrong things. Now with a few years of marriage under our belts we may have a different perspective as to what important qualities we should have in a spouse. Gently, but lovingly, we can help shape our kids awareness of what to look for in a spouse. Instill some of those qualities in a child and when they get older they will know what to look for. Some of those qualities could be vision, godly character, forgiveness, excellence, integrity, love, accountability, righteousness, prudence, humility, kindness, generosity, selflessness as opposed to greed, disrespect, harshness, selfishness, bitterness, violent temper, stinginess, unforgiveness, immaturity, strictly curves or strictly cash.
- Positive Messages about Marriage.It is not hard to find someone that will talk bad or down about marriage. And surely there are some things about marriage that we could complain about too. But with our kids we have a chance to shape their perspective about marriage either positively or negatively. By telling them about the positive side of marriage and what the responsibilities of a good spouse are, we prepare them to be a good spouse for someone else in the future
- Investigate Your Fiancé’s Spiritual Walk.Do not be fooled by Church attendance while ignoring the actual spiritual practice. I believe that marriage takes a lot of prayer, so it makes sense to raise a child to deliberately look for and be aware of a potential spouse’s spiritual walk or practice – not just the outside stuff, but on the inside. This is of utmost importance.
It is funny how life changes a person’s outlook! It is never too early to begin to pray for the future spouses of our children. No prayer investment is ever wasted. Let us deliberately paint a beautiful picture of marriage to our children through our daily interactions with our spouses. Regardless of what our spouses do or don’t do, make it a responsibility to do what is right. I bet you’ll want to look back tomorrow and thank God for a worthwhile investment you made in your children through the great dividends you’ll enjoy in your twilight years.
To a rewarding twilight years…