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A HAPPY AND HEALTHY FAMILY BEGINS WITH MARRIAGE

In the previous post connected to this, I discussed how it’s becoming more normal to put less importance on marriage and more importance on kids. I think that this normalized mindset has given people this idea that a family only consisting of a husband and wife isn’t good enough compared to a family that has a husband, wife, and kids. NEWSFLASH: Marriage is the foundation of a family, and the most important foundation we will ever build!

I attended a conference last November and a representative with the United Way in Provo shared some neat research that helps support my views. She explained that physical and emotional outcomes for a child growing into adulthood can be very dependent on the healthiness of their parents’ relationship.  It makes sense because marriage is the foundation of the family, and if that is shaky then the rest of the family structure will be shaky, too. This wasn’t the first time I’ve heard similar research be shared on this idea either, so it shouldn’t be anything new to society. Don’t want to be mean here, but I hope this is kind of a wake-up call to those who choose to invest more of their time in their kids, instead of their marriage!

Sometimes I get the feeling that people take marriage for granted. I'm not just saying that because I'm a marriage guru! Just from conversations people have had with me lately they seem to think a 'family' is more important, meaning two parents and children.  It's like they forget that a marriage is a family too...

“Husbands and wives who love each other will find that love and loyalty are reciprocated. This love will provide a nurturing atmosphere for the emotional growth of children. Family life should be a time of happiness and joy that children can look back on with fond memories and associations.” Ezra Taft Benson

How can we provide a nurturing atmosphere for our kids if the parents focus too much time on their kids and not enough time on each other as husband and wife? Childhood memories that are full of all the things their parents did for them are great. But childhood memories that include images of their parents creating a loving and respectful marriage are better! It’s not enjoyable having childhood memories filled with your parents fighting or rarely spending time together. Do we fully understand that the happy or unhappy state of our marriage truly influences our kids’ lives now and years later?

People just put a lot of emphasis on children, focusing on how to make their lives better, making sure they grow up without emotional issues. But like I mentioned above, they are also at risk for emotional issues from being around an unstable marriage. Some parents sacrifice their date nights so that ‘little Johnny’ can have another extracurricular activity someone has to take him to. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that raising children is important. It requires you to make sacrifices, but your marriage should never be one of them. Maybe your relationship isn’t categorized as “unstable,” but it’s the little things we start neglecting that can lead us to this category quicker than we realize.

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Find a Balance

It’s easier said than done, but you have to find a balance between being a good parent and being a good spouse or else your marriage will go on the back burner. Obviously, there are reasonable things that come up that require more of your attention than your spouse does at that time (i.e. sick children, finals week, newborn baby, etc.).

Whatever understandable reason it may be, when you don’t give your marriage the love and attention it deserves for a long period of time, this is putting it on the backburner; a place your marriage should never go. It just risks an unhealthy marriage for you, your spouse, and your children.

 

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Sometimes parents think they are supposed to focus all their efforts towards their children’s lives until they are adults and move out, and then they can be a strong couple again. But if you’ve neglected your friendship and romance all this time, getting back to being a couple can seem so daunting! I don’t know about you but I DO NOT want this to happen to my marriage. We cannot neglect our marriages. We cannot put our marriages on the back burner thinking that everything will be fine once we give it attention again. 

I realize that this is coming from someone who doesn’t yet know how hard it is to take care of children consistently, while also trying to give time and attention to their spouse. That might be bugging some of you. While this is true, it doesn’t take motherhood experience to understand this point/fact: if you neglect your marriage, you risk it falling apart. This can be applied to other areas like career, friends, and hobbies, not just being a wife and mother. I have had moments where I didn’t give as much attention to my spouse compared to what I was giving to my schooling and career. We are all guilty of doing this at times. What matters is recognizing it, and reprioritizing other things so that it doesn’t happen again.

I wanted to bring attention to this area so that putting less importance on your marriage doesn’t become normalized, like it became for me growing up. As I said in the previous post, when we see others put less importance on their marriage, it can influence us to do the same. However, I hope this has been a reminder that we cannot devalue the structural importance of marriage! We cannot forget that the marital unit is the biggest component to creating a happy and healthy family! If you’re feeling like an area of your life is taking more than what your marriage can handle, then I challenge you to make a few changes.

Keepin' marriage fresh,
Amy

2 Comments

  • Is this true if you both have kids from separate marriages. There is so much competition and either the spouse or kids feel left out ..

    • Hi Christy, that’s a great question! Because things do get a little more complicated with Blended families, huh? I think having different dynamics with your kids in this situation can maybe require a little more time and attention given to them. I’m sure it’s tough to find a good balance of time and attention for each kid from both you and your spouse! While you might need to focus more on loving and including each kid, I believe the principle still holds true for your marriage; that it needs to be the highest priority still. It might mean that for 3 straight days your kids get more of your attention for their needs because maybe one or two are struggling. That’s understandable. But you and your spouse need to give each other time and attention every so often, and not let your relationship go unattended to for long periods of time.

      Kids will always have needs you need to attend to, especially when they are babies because they obviously can’t take care of themselves. But there are little choices that we consciously make that add up, and it’s important that your marriage be on the receiving end of those little choices more often. Does that make sense, or does that help?

      Ultimately, I believe the basic principle holds true no matter the circumstances; that your kids will grow up to go out into the world on their own, creating their own families. However, you and your spouse will still have each other and always will have each other. That doesn’t mean to take it for granted thinking they will always be there but your kids won’t be. Your relationship with your spouse will be your foundation even moreso when your kids leave the nest, so it needs to be nurtured continually for that reason.

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