I was at the dollar store with my kids. My 13-year-old son Ethan came up to me as I was looking for the right Valentine’s Day card for my husband. I showed him a few choices. He shook his head. One was too sappy, another one boring. The next was too pink.
We both agreed on a funny card with a big dog on it.
I smile when I think back on that moment because it included Ethan in something rather mundane (choosing a card) yet it was also special. He was getting a glimpse into the love life of his mother and father.
What will my son learn about marriage from watching us all these years? Will he think marriage is something to dream about or something to dread?
Now that Ethan is in middle school and almost as tall as me, I’ll say things like “When you’re older and begin to date someone…” or “One day, when you have a wife…” There are many things I want my son to know about marriage. Here are a few items at the top of the list:
Choose your spouse wisely. This is the big one. I want my son to choose a woman who loves God and shares common values. I want him to marry his best friend, someone he cannot live without. Physical attraction will light the fire, but she must be equally beautiful on the inside. For my son, if she skis, mountain bikes, and plays jazz piano, bonus points. But common interests aren’t the main ingredients of a happy marriage.
Worship God in your marriage. I want Ethan to understand his marriage will be closely connected to his relationship with God. The closer you are to Christ, the more you have to give in your marriage. Obeying the commandments of “Husbands love…” and “Wives submit…” can be tough and that’s why we are dependent on the Holy Spirit.
Keep being affectionate towards each other. It’s totally natural to shower your sweetheart with affection when you are dating and the weeks after marriage. But a few months or years after “I do,” is the affection still there? Your heart won’t beat like crazy every time you see your spouse. But keep acting like you did when you were dating. Keep opening doors. Keep holding hands. Keep snuggling on the couch and listening to one another. Plan date nights. Kiss often. Practice the first things that made you fall in love in the first place.
Don’t forget to have fun. Find activities you enjoy doing together through the different stages of life. It may be a challenge – I know there are many things my athletic husband does I simply cannot! My son has seen me attempt many things like skiing, rollerblading, ice skating, camping, and even martial arts to be together in the family fun. Some things I like, others I don’t, but I keep trying (and applying ice to my injuries).
Guess what? As I consider this advice to my son about marriage, I am speaking to myself.
What’s one thing I can do today to make my spouse happy?
How can I press closer to Christ so I can be more like Him in my marriage?
How can I show my spouse affection and pursue him physically?
What’s something fun we can put on the calendar?
As we model a happy marriage to our children, we give them something worth dreaming about. It’s not about having a perfect marriage. It’s about having a marriage on purpose. Don’t leave things to chance. Leave a legacy to your children of a happy marriage built on commitment and Christ (and lots of fun).
Talk to your kids about marriage. Why don’t you begin a conversation with your son today? “Son, there are many things I want you to know about marriage…”
Arlene Pellicane is a speaker and author of several books including 31 Days to a Happy Husband and Growing Up Social: Raising Relational Kids in a Screen-Driven World which she wrote with Dr. Gary Chapman. Learn more at ArlenePellicane.com.