Everyone knows that children these days are bombarded with images and stories of what love, romance, sex, and marriage should look like. Not all images they see are healthy. In fact, some of those images may even be damaging to them.
Besides what the media shows them, your children also have a front row seat to your marriage. They are recording and processing everything they see and hear. Even if you are a single parent, your child is still learning from you and your dating relationships. They see how conflict is handled, and how much time you give to each other. They see whether you put a high value on your marriage, or if you rarely talk to each other. They begin to form their life long expectations for relationships based on the information they take in as a child.
Since my husband and I focus our ministry on strengthening marriages and families, I thought it would be interesting to discuss marriage with our 11 year old daughter. Because we homeschool her, she was able to sit with me at a local coffee shop and sip her hot chocolate while I asked her, “What do you think is the key to a successful marriage?”
At first she was very unsure of what I was asking, and even more so… a little frightened as to why I was asking. I just let her know that I was interested in her thoughts on how to have a healthy relationship. Here are her top ten things:
Top 10 Marriage Tips
- Every night before bed, tell your husband that you love him and you hope he has great dreams, and he sleeps well. Then pray together until you fall asleep.
- In the morning, make your husband breakfast. Make heart pancakes and write “I love you” with chocolate chips, whipped cream, strawberries or something like that.
- If you say something hurtful, or give him attitude, you need to say you are sorry and make sure he knows that you don’t mean to hurt him. Maybe you were just cranky or feeling sassy.
- You can kiss as much as you like at home, but maybe not in public. Especially not in public with your kids around.
- Write little notes to each other and secretly hide them so he will find at least one note a day. The more notes the better. You can even make a scavenger hunt for him.
- Give strength to your husband by telling him how thankful you are for him, and give him encouraging words to do the things he dreams about doing.
- Compliment him every day. You need to be telling him just how great he is so he doesn’t have to hear it from someone else.
- Tell your husband how grateful you are for him making money for your family.
- Enjoy music together. Go to concerts, make a playlist for him, write a song, learn an instrument, and sing together – loudly.
- Take a vacation together. Go places like Hawaii or Florida for the beach, Colorado for skiing, and New York, Paris, or another big city where you can try new foods and new things together.
I had to chuckle at a few of the items on the list, especially #4. Apparently she feels the need to limit the public displays of affection! I asked her about a few of these, and I found that a lot of the items came from things she either heard my husband and I do for each other, or things we did for her that she hoped she and her husband would do for each other. With item #9, she reminded me of how Jerry and I introduced the kids to one particular song by playing it and singing loudly. The kids eventually joined in, and now it’s our “family road trip song”.
Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is older, he will not depart from it.” This verse specifically says to train our children in the way they will go according to their bent, not how you want them to grow up later. So take some tips from our 11 year old daughter, and start showing your child what a good, God-centered marriage and relationship should be.