When it comes to marriage and family, you’d be surprised how vastly different people’s opinions and ideologies are – and reasonably so. Everyone is entitled to creating a system for them, and no matter how much time passes by, there will still be no laid-down rules or patterns for making a marriage work. That’s the whole point of individuality merging with compatibility. You are who you are, and when you couple up with someone else to build a home, just do what works for you both.
Blogger and author Mike Berry has been married to his wife Kristin for 17 years, and together they are raising eight adopted children. The Berry’s are actively involved in social works and Mike is also a parent trainer, a professional who bridges the gap between singlehood and parenthood for many couples. Together with his wife, he founded The Honestly Adoption Company, an organization that’s “fiercely committed to helping parents gain insight into their child, change their parenting approach, and in turn, transform their family.”
In 2016, Mike posted an interesting article on his blog, detailing the mechanics of his home and how he always puts his wife before the kids. Mike loves his kids to bits but he believes that for a marriage to truly work and remain happy, the couple needs to put their responsibilities to each other first.
“It’s usually 8:30 when I give the first warning shot to my two teenaged daughters,” Mike began. “At 9 pm, I say, ‘Fifteen minutes till it’s time for you two to head upstairs.’ I repeat this nearly every night. And nearly every night they argue. ‘But why do we have to go to bed at 9:15,’ they lament. ‘We’re not children anymore.’ ‘You don’t have to go to bed, but you can’t stay down here in the living room past 9:15. That’s our time. We haven’t seen each other all day, and most of the day we’ve been focused on you and work. We need our time too.’ They roll their eyes and huff at us.”
Of course, the girls don’t understand this and would often throw pillows at him and fuss about, but Mike and Kristin have ensured that their children do not take up every hour in the day. The kids dominate a lot of the day, of course, but they still need time for each other. Time to sit in the living room, sip wine, watch shows, talk, and just be a couple.
In Mike’s opinion, here’s why it’s so important for couples to out each other first.
A healthy marriage is the cornerstone of the home.
Mike believes that the pillars of the home are solely the parents and not the children. The children are a huge part of the foundation but they are not the cornerstone.
“They’re not the main thing that holds this whole beautiful mess together,” he wrote. “That’s you. You and your wife, you and your husband, you and your partner. It’s your responsibility to lead your family, and your home. Your children are looking to the two of you for direction and example).”
Before them, it was us.
Remember how you two had each other all to yourselves before those cute little munchkins came around? Every day was like a honeymoon. It was beautiful to exclusively belong to each other. Now, you have to share with those little buggers.
“We kicked this whole party off,” Mike noted. “Then these beautiful children came along. And we’re sure thankful they did because they fill our life with so much joy. But, our union is sacred. Our union is holy. With all of our power, we must protect that sacredness.”
After them, it will be us.
Most parents get so caught up in the whirlwind of raising their kids that they forget these children are not always going to remain in the nest. Time will come when they’ll strike out on their own and it will just be the two of you again. What will become of your marriage then if it has lost all its flavor and essence?
“…It will be just the two of us once again,” Mike continued. “And we want us to be healthy, strong, and still as committed as we were when we first began this journey. In order to make sure the future ‘us’ is protected, we must put the ‘us’ of today first.”
We need to set a future example
As he mentioned in the first point, it’s the parents’ responsibility to be role models to their kids. They are looking up to you for cues, directions, nuggets, and principles that will guide them when they are old enough to build worthwhile relationships of their own.
“We are raising adults, not children. I don’t know about you, but I want my children to grow up with a healthy view of relationships- dating, engaged or married. I want the health of my marriage to give them a healthy view of what marriage is, and what it should be. That’s why I put my wife first, and them second. Close second, but still second.”
Parents will always be busy. You can’t get out of it. Between work, scaling your hustles, taking care of your kids, looking after your own aged parents, and other engagements, there’s barely enough time in a day for each other. This is why you need to make a solid effort to break the vicious cycle of unending activities and make room for each other. When the kids have all “flown out of the nest”, it’ll just be you two. You need to keep the flame of your relationship burning brightly.
- “4 Reasons The Health Of Your Marriage Must Come Before Your Children.” Honestly Adoption. Mike Berry. Retrieved November 7, 2020.