By Michelle Curren
I’m not sure why it is, but there’s a tendency for us mothers to want to put our children first. Maybe it’s because of their innocence and total dependence on us. What young mothers need to remember, though, is that your children are going to grow up and leave home, and when that day arrives, it’ll be just you and your husband again. If you’ve neglected your marriage, you may feel like strangers. A surprising number of divorces take place at this empty nest phase of life. As one who has recently reached this stage, and in following the teaching of Titus 2, I’d like to give a gentle reminder to the younger women.
The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. (Titus 2:3-5)
A Covenant of Three
Satan has successfully confused many young mothers. In a Facebook group for Christian women, I saw a discussion about which to put first, your husband or your children. I was alarmed at the number of women who argued for the children.
Marriage vows are a three-way covenant between God, husband, and wife. Notice that children aren’t even included? God is #1. We’re to put Him first and obey His law. Our husband is second. God has made husbands the head of the family, and put wives in submission to them. This marriage trinity forms the foundation of the family. Keeping this covenant means taking care of your marriage.
The women who choose to put their children ahead of their husband may one day find themselves going through a divorce when the children leave home. If you would like to read more on the subject of submission, Amy Lee Bell wrote a helpful article, “Submission: What Does It Really Mean?”
Beware Too Many Activities
American parents today spend more time and money than ever before on their children’s extra-curricular activities. As parents, we want to expose our children to a variety of things to help them find their talents and interests. That’s not all bad, but it can become like the tail wagging the dog, where the children and their pursuits become the main focus of the family’s resources, leaving your marriage with the leftovers. Not only does that teach the children that they’re the center of attention, it can contribute to marital strain, and estrangement between spouses.
Can our children become idols? Anything we put before God can be, and since our marriage is made with God, putting our children before our marriage is also putting them before Him.
That’s a sobering thought, isn’t it?!
Children Benefit from a Healthy Marriage
You should make sure that the nurturing of your marriage comes first, rather than an after-thought. If you’re becoming aware that this is a problem, then talk with your husband to re-evaluate priorities and make the necessary changes together.
If, right now, you’re worrying about disappointing your children, then that should be a warning sign. Never in life do we get everything we want, and learning to put others’ needs ahead of our own is important. The most important thing for your kids is the strength of their family. Broken marriages take a big toll on the mental health of children.
Also consider that you’re modeling marriage for your children. Not only will putting your priorities in order benefit your marriage now, your example will benefit your children’s marriages later.
“The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.” (Proverbs 14:1)
Preparing for the Empty Nest
The transition to the empty nest will be affected by how many children you have. If you have a very large family, it may never feel truly empty. But one day your children will be adults and start to have families of their own. Even though that day may seem very far away, you’re preparing for it now, whether you realize it or not. Invest your time and energy into the relationship with your husband so that when the empty nest phase of life arrives, you’ll still have your best friend to spend it with.
Michelle Curren is a homesteading, homeschooling, Christian wife and mother. Upon entering the empty nest phase of life, she started blogging at Mid-Life Blogger to encourage other moms.