From the moment they’re born, we’re thinking about our kids’ futures. I’m sure you can relate. What will they want to do? What will make them happy? Will they be healthy? If we’re honest, most of us also wonder whether they’ll one day get married and have kids of their own.
Attitudes to marriage are changing. Time was, marriage was a given. You grew up, you got an education and a job, you got married. Thankfully marriage is no longer an obligation. It’s a choice for those who find the right person and want to make that commitment.
With changing attitudes all around them and, let’s be honest, a fair few marriage cynics out there, our kids’ generation is going to get a lot of different messages about marriage. Marriage can be hard work – but it’s also worth it. That’s why we want to set the best example we can in our own marriage.
Here are 5 things we want our kids to know about marriage:
1. It’s An Equal Partnership
We don’t want our kids to grow up with skewed ideas of marriage roles. Whether that’s women should cook or men should make the most money, out-dated ideas about marriage are a fast track to dissatisfaction and resentment.
Marriage is an equal partnership. That means that if he cooks dinner, she should wash up. If she gets up in the night to see to the baby, he should check the kids are ready for school in the morning. Equal division of labor not only heads off resentment, it also lays a strong foundation of teamwork.
We try to make sure our kids always see us taking turns with chores and responsibilities. This lets them them know that there are no roles – we’re both in it together.
2. There Are No Hard And Fast Rules
If our kids wait till they’re in their 40s to get married, someone will tell them they’ve left it too late. If they get married at 25, someone will tell them it’s too soon.
That’s why we want our kids to know that there are no hard and fast rules about marriage. From who they marry to how old they are to whether they opt for a big church wedding or a tiny wedding, everyone around them will have an opinion on what they should do. That’s why we want them to know that all that really matters is what suits them and their spouse-to-be.
The same is true after the big day – there are no hard and fast rules. If he stays home while she goes to work, that’s great. If they travel a lot or don’t want to have kids yet, that’s fine too. What matters is that their marriage works for them.
3. It Takes Work
Marriage is hard work. There’s no two ways about it. It takes commitment, respect, patience and the ability to compromise and know when to swallow your ego.
Of course, a good marriage is absolutely worth the commitment it takes to make it work. A strong marriage is a source of joy, comfort and companionship throughout the changing seasons of life. To keep it strong, both parties need to be fully committed to doing what’s right for their marriage and treating it as a priority.
We model this for our kids by letting them be part of family discussions and see us making decisions together. We want them to see a real, committed marriage, not a Hollywood fairytale.
4. A Strong Foundation Is Vital
A good marriage needs a strong foundation. That’s why it’s important to us to instill in our kids that things like looks, weight, status or possessions don’t matter. What matters is shared values, honesty, and respect for each other.
Respect means learning good communications and always communicating in a mature and loving way, without aggression, insults, or passive aggressive pot shots. It means being considerate of each other’s needs and desires,
We make building a strong, respectful foundation a priority in our marriage, so our kids get to see Mom and Dad speaking to each other lovingly and kindly, and being considerate of each other.
5. Both Partners Will Change And That’s OK
A lot of pain in relationships comes from wanting the other person to be different to what they are. The key to a strong marriage is to love who your partner is right now, not who they were three years ago, or who you wish they could be.
We want our kids to know that as a marriage and the two people in it grow and mature, both parties are going to change. People’s values, priorities and appearance change continuously throughout their lives.
Partners who are always looking to the past or future can quickly become dissatisfied with the present. That’s why we want to teach our kids the importance of loving the person in front of them right now, and valuing them for all they are.
A strong marriage is hard work. It’s also a source of fun, joy and laughter. By paying attention to keeping our marriage healthy, we’re teaching our kids the key things that we want them to know about marriage. That way, they can make healthy, respectful choices for themselves and enter marriage with an honest and hopeful view of what it takes to make it work.