Prizing Marriage Must Be a Priority for Parents

Mike Fabarez
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The first human relationship to be created was between a husband and a wife. God did not create the parent-child relationship and then add a spouse to round out the household relationships. The marriage relationship was designed to be primary. As we have already noted, the marriage relationship was also designed to last a lifetime, in contrast to the parenting relationship, which was to endure until the child went off to be joined to a spouse in marriage. The marriage was also to be primary in importance. The language in Genesis 2:24, along with the rest of what the Bible teaches on marriage, makes clear that the “holding fast” to one’s spouse is a kind of connection that is to be valued as the supreme earthly relationship in the family. The relational bond God designed for marriage then, we could say, was first in time, first in duration, and first in priority.

That says a lot about the way a home ought to look and operate. The function of the members of a household ought to seek to clearly demonstrate the primacy of the marriage relationship. Just putting it in those terms can serve as a wake-up call for many Christian homes. Even though I write that our sons do best when they are sent out into this world from a strong home, and therefore from a home with a strong marriage, we need to make sure we don’t see the focus on our marriages as a means to an end. Yes, it is true that the future path for our “men in the making” is being set for them by what they observe in the relationship between Mom and Dad, but let us for a few minutes just consider the importance of marriage for God’s sake, not our boys’ sake.

Reconsider the Solemnity of Marriage

God certainly did not have to create marriage as we know it, but He did. The Lord obviously decided that this sacred, intimate, lifetime bond between a husband and wife would be a demonstration of the type of relationship that would bring Him glory and reflect His character. He wanted it, as both the Old and New Testaments explicitly tell us, to be a billboard displaying the way God loves and enters into covenant relationship with His people. The frequently recited parallel between Christ and the church, and husbands and wives, should not be seen simply as a biblical way to teach Christians how to have better marriages, but as Paul writes, “This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church” (Eph. 5:32). In other words, marriage itself exists primarily because God chose to reflect the profundity of how He relates to the church—His chosen, elect people.

The Lord obviously decided that this sacred, intimate, lifetime bond between a husband and wife would be a demonstration of the type of relationship that would bring Him glory and reflect His character.

If that doesn’t elevate your respect and esteem for what your marriage is, I don’t know what would. If you are married, you are in a relationship that needs to be admired and valued, not because it is perfect or filled with good feelings every day, but because it is the unique and hallowed covenant connection between human beings. With that said, it is no wonder it is under such tremendous attack in our modern era. Here is a divinely designed institution crafted to display something of God’s love for His redeemed people, having endured for millennia throughout human history, yet in our day finds Satan boldly seeking to change its rules and sully its reputation.

Speak Highly of Marriage to Your Boys

One way to show respect for marriage is to be done with all those jokes about our boys not dating until they are thirty. This is particularly in vogue for Christian parents of girls. In the last few months I can recall at least four godly Christian couples talking about their daughters, and jokingly referring to shooting any boys that might be romantically interested in their girls. It is sure to get a laugh, but consider the cost. The anti-dating, anti-marriage rhetoric that is built into so much of the Christian culture’s thinking (much of which stems from the parents’ defeatist projection of their sordid dating failures on their kids) certainly contributes to our church kids reflecting the sad anti-marriage statistics of the rest of the world.

In those times when you find yourself thanking God for your spouse, purposefully share your thanksgiving with your son.

Not only is our culture giving up on marriage in droves, but those who still choose to engage in this sacred covenant relationship are putting it off way past what is verifiably healthy for their future children. Marriage is entered into later in life now than it has ever been before, and the age for getting married the first time is fast approaching thirty. Tragic how the fulfillment of the wish for our boy to put off marriage quickly turns to desperate prayers for our grown offspring to find a wife and start a family. Yikes!

In contrast, let us speak highly of marriage to our boys from the outset. Talk positively to your son about his future marriage. Talk about the great blessing it is to be married. Take your cues from God’s inspired parenting proverbs and echo these sentiments often:

He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord. (Prov. 18:22)

An excellent wife is the crown of her husband. (Prov. 12:4a)

House and wealth are inherited from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the Lord. (Prov. 19:14)

In those times when you find yourself thanking God for your spouse, purposefully share your thanksgiving with your son. When you are blessed by something your spouse has done, be intentional about declaring your joy to your boy. Not only does that put on display the best of this sacred relationship, but it also provides a tremendous sense of security in your son’s life.

Remind Your Boys Your Spouse Comes First

As counterintuitive as it may seem, make sure your boys know that your spouse is your first priority. This doesn’t seem like a good idea if you wanted to affirm and encourage someone were it any other relationship, but in your parenting relationship it is exactly what your boy needs to hear. If you want to provide the kind of security and reassurance that every child inherently needs, then it is time to see the wisdom of telling him emphatically that he is not your number one priority.

This is modern parenting heresy, I know. But oh well, it is the truth—or at least it should be. Because God designed marriage to be first in time, first in duration, and first in priority, when your son is in a household that adheres to God’s design, he will flourish! Your boy is strengthened and prepared for his future when you demonstrate not only with your words, but also by your daily decisions, that your covenant partner is the primary earthly commitment in your life.

When this is flip-flopped or affirmed only in our words and not with our lives, we will create the bane of the modern family—namely, the child-centered home. Entitled, self-indulgent, bratty, self-absorbed sons are cultivated in a home where they are convinced they are the number one priority. We can witness the effects of this in every nook and cranny of our society. Walk into a supermarket, a hotel lobby, a shopping mall, or sadly, many church lobbies and you will witness kids who rule, and big people who seem to be tagging along for the ride. All these children are missing is a golden crown affixed to their brow. They are the unrivaled sovereigns of their domestic domain and they know it.

This is the sinful and perverse reality for far too many homes, and for many who claim Christ and say the Bible is their guide. But you can search the pages of Scripture and never find anything that remotely supports the kingly role many little boys assume in today’s families. Godly Christian homes are described as dignified and well managed, with children who are faithful and submissive to their parents, not ruling the roost as though they are the center of their domestic universe (1 Tim. 3:4; Titus 1:6). Of course the training of our children to achieve this domestic equilibrium will involve a good dose of loving yet firm correction.

Invest in Your Marriage

A marriage that becomes the bedrock of your son’s enriching childhood will certainly require a regular investment of your time and resources. One of the staples of a husband and wife investing in the marriage is the simple and consistent practice of a date night. I can’t point to a chapter and verse in the Bible that mandates it, but it is hard to imagine that a marriage in our busy world can be a prioritized and valued relationship if there are not regular times on the calendar set aside and guarded for one’s spouse.

Your relationship with your spouse was likely initiated and cultivated by putting dates on the calendar and keeping them. Your relationship will be maintained and enhanced by continuing the same practice. I know, I know, you live with your spouse and you see him or her every day. I met my future wife when I was in high school. We had classes together. I saw her every day. I’m sure that classmates is all we would have ever been, were it not for making dates and invest-ing in each other. Yes, you see your spouse every day, but to cultivate and deepen your relationship with your marriage partner you must get those dates on the calendar and keep them.

As parents of a young boy, this can be a challenge. But you need to be up for the challenge and make it happen. I can say that date night is one of the most important weekly reasons to share the care and oversight of your son with a grandparent, friend, or trusted babysitter. Even when they cry as you are on your way out the door, power through the separation anxiety in your own heart, and say, “Goodnight, I’m off to date your mom!” I can remember my tearful sons pulling the “you’re-killing-us-here” attitude when it was time for me to leave on my weekly date night. I would often get down on one knee, pull their little faces toward mine and say, “I’m going out tonight to date your mom, and I expect that when you are a daddy you will take your wife out on a date every week no matter how much my grandkids tell you not to!” It was my way to try to humorously impress upon their little minds the primacy of marriage—both mine, and one day theirs.

Of course there is a lot more that could be said about your investment in your marriage. If you are clueless as to how this can be done, pick up a good book on Christian marriage, or simply be bold enough to sincerely ask your spouse, “What can I do to make you a greater priority in my life?” And when you get the answers, be sure to put those things into practice in a way that reverberates throughout your home. Make sure your boy can truly sense that you are committed to loving, serving, and prioritizing your covenant marriage partner.

For Further Reading:

Raising Men, Not Boys

by Mike Fabarez

How to raise a godly man in a godless world Perhaps there has never been a more challenging time to raise children than in today’s...

book cover for Raising Men, Not Boys