Written by: Brenda L. Yoder
You meet the boy. You fall in love. You have the baby.
Who do you love?
It’s your valentine. Right?
You have another baby, and maybe another.
Who do you love?
I was reminded this week how easily family life takes over romance and love. Once kids come along, it’s easy for idols to creep in, diverting the primary love between man and woman. I’ve seen it too many times. It’s. So. Subtle.
Lack of sleep, stresses of demanding babies and toddlers, busyness of school activities and sports become distractions to family life. Children, themselves, can become idols. It’s easy for your spouse to become the enemy as arguments erupt over parenting styles or schedules. Children play one parent against another. It’s easy for parents to forget they are on the same team.
“My mommy doesn’t love my daddy anymore,” I’ve heard more than one child say as I work with elementary students as a school counselor. Another family fractured, another marriage bites the dust.
How does it happen? How do things slowly creep in, eroding the love a couple once had?
- Couples can put children at the center of the marriage, robbing partners of energy, time, and interest for each other.
- Couples can let the demands of meeting hopes and dreams for the family rob partners of the primary objective of loving one another.
- Couples can let family roles take the place of relationship. Men and women can get more caught up in being moms and dads that they forget their first and most important role in the family is to be a woman and man who love and are committed to each other.
- Couples can let small disagreements become large boulders dividing their cohesiveness. Disagreements over parenting, hopes for children, finances, and priorities can drive wedges that break the marital bond and covenant.
- Couples can let their own issues overtake the family unit. Most of us have “stuff” we bring into our marriages that we aren’t proactive in taking care of. Individual problems, habits, or insecurities become magnified when children come and family stresses increase.
- Couples don’t put individual relationships with Christ first before their marriage and family. I’m convinced this is the most damaging factor in Christian marriages. There’s a temptation to put the marriage itself on a pedestal that sits above Christ. It’s a subtle lie the enemy propagates in Christian circles – the lie that marriage is THE most important thing in married life. It isn’t. God is.
I’ve been married almost twenty-four years. Over the course of our marriage, we’ve seen marriages split up for a variety of reasons. Most reasons stem from one of the factors listed above. Before the affair, before the bitterness and hate, before the drug addiction, small things creep in. I’ve seen it in my own marriage. I’ve struggled to release bitterness, to give up my rights, to not run when conflict and strife dominated our relationship. When the going gets tough, it’s easy to say, “I’m done.”
Marriage is hard work.
I’m convinced personal relationships with Christ are the plum-line, the foundation that holds a marriage together when every other element is tearing it apart.
Loving God first before your partner and children builds a foundation that holds when the storms come. Allegiances shift between children and spouses whether you want to admit it or not. But an allegiance to Christ above all other relationships guides priorities and responses when the subtle enemies invade. Trials and temptations in marriage will come. Being personally anchored in Christ above all else will equip you to withstand the furry when it comes.
There are good books on marriage and family. But when hurricane winds blow, only the Word of God, and the counsel, wisdom, and insight it gives will strengthen weary souls and clarify confused hearts. The enemy of God tries to confuse our hearts, displacing our love for God and our spouse into things that seem good – even our children.
Today, who do you love? Is your relationship with Christ first above all else? Is your love for your husband more than your love for your children? Are you more involved in fitting the ideal roles of marriage and family that you eliminate your time and passion for your Savior?
Who do you love? This Valentine’s Day, do you need a shift in your allegiances?
Love the Lord yourGod with all your heart, mind, and strength. Luke 10:27, NIV
Dear Father, will you become our first love? Will you shed light on areas where idols are creeping into our marriage, our family, our relationship with you? Will eliminate any confusion or mixed up priorities in our life so we can be the women you desire us to be as your daughters, as wives, and mothers. Thank you, Lord Jesus that your love is true and perfect. Amen.
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