Model Marriage?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Me and my honey

The more you invest in a marriage, the more valuable it becomes.
~Amy Grant

I wrote my doctoral dissertation on maintaining marriage throughout the life cycle. This subject was and is my passion. For years, I taught, counseled and gave seminars on how to maintain a healthy marriage. One of the points I used to stress is that you MUST PUT YOUR MARRIAGE FIRST (after God, of course). People would gasp in horror and disbelief when I told them that kids should come second. The best gift you can give your kids is a model for a good marriage, REALLY!

And for years, Dave and I really did put our marriage first. We had a date night every single week (since Will was 10 days old). And we would go away for over night trips occasionally too. We mentally and realistically put our marriage first.

Then, we adopted Kate. And it was hard to leave her with a sitter. She had some attachment hiccups. She would not go to sleep for babysitters. We moved and had to start from square one building up trust with a sitter. We got out of the weekly habit of our date nights and we have not spent an entire (overnight) night away from our kids in over 3 years. It is not Kate's fault at all. It is ours.

I am failing miserably at what I preached for so many years. We have fallen into the lazy routine of doing all the kid activities and not making time for our own relationship. Luckily, Dave and I are (and have usually been) on the same page about most things in life. Our marriage is good even when it is not great. Does that make sense? We don't have to work too hard at it. BUT still, we should.

Yesterday, I was talking to a good friend who told me that she wants her children to someday look at her marriage and say, "I want a great marriage like my Mom and Dad have." WOW. That struck me. I think Dave and I have a good marriage but do we put each other down sometimes? Yup. Do I snap at him for silly reasons? Yup. Do we seem really happy to our kids? Not sure. I hope so.

I have thought a lot about this and I realized that yes, our life is very busy. It is hard (and expensive) to get babysitters. And yes, we can put our marriage on the back shelf and it will keep going (God willing). But we really OUGHT to do better. We ought to make more of an effort to model for our children what a really good marriage looks like. We ought to continually show them what it looks like to treat each other with the utmost respect. We ought to show them that is is okay and even healthy to take time for ourselves as a couple. We deserve that and so do they.

So, I am going to start making some changes around here. I am going to plan a night away from the kids (anyone want to watch some peanuts?). This year we will celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary. I want my kids to look at us on their wedding day and be proud that their parents have a great and happy marriage. I want them to tell their spouses, "I hope we are as happy as my Mom and Dad are!" In fact, I hope someday they read this post and realize that you have to make a conscious effort to put your marriage first. It doesn't just take care of itself.

How about you? Are you modeling a good marriage for your children?

Love is not something you feel. It's something you do.
~David Wilkerson


  1. Excellent message! I did have to giggle at the Amy Grant quote. The quote is so true but it is coming from a woman who cheated on her spouse... I believe in redemption, it just gave me a laugh this morning. :)

  2. We just celebrated our 10th anniversary and went away for the weekend. I recently posted about this on my blog. That I've always said I aim to be a fantastic mom and teacher, but merely a 'good' wife. I also have a good marriage that doesn't take a lot of work. But like you, I realize mine should be more of a priority and can always be better.

  3. LynnieB,

    I,too, saw the irony n Amy Grant's quote but perhaps she learned this lesson the hard way? I just thought it was really well said.

  4. Great post...and very timely for me! Was just talking about this with my husband yesterday. Life seems to suck you up....and you take for granted that your marriage will just roll with the punches. We've always been best friends, but we've gotten lazy, too...or just to tired to bother taking the time out for ourselves. Plus, the last two year while I've been in school, there has been no time for socializing with anyone really, let alone find time for date nights with my husband. We gave up our season tickets to the ballet and stopped going to concerts (unless our kid were on performing). I hand in my work this weekend it's back to basics starting next week for us. I'm really looking forward to it. With all that goes on around our busy household, I miss him. It's crazy to think that surrounded by all these people I sometimes actually feel lonely, but I do. Time to get off the treadmill for at least a little bit every week!!!
    I think what you say about modeling for the children is so important. We need to work on that for their sake as much as for our own.

  5. Oh...and we've been married 22 years and have NEVER gone away without the children...except to go to the hospital to have another. That's pretty sad!

  6. I love this post.
    My parents have been married for almost 38 years. Have they had their up and downs - yes, of course. But, they always put their marriage and family first.
    You said that you snap at Dave and sometimes your kids don't see you two at your best. But, you know what? That is a "real" loving marriage. It's not always perfect and it takes work. If your children grew up in a house where you and Dave were all smiles all the time they would have an unrealistic idea of relationships.
    When my parents got in a tiff when I was little was I thrilled? No. But, I was also not devastated. Out of all my friends, I believe that I have the most realistic idea of what a loving, lasting, trusting marriage is because I got to see one that works.
    You guys are doing a great job!

  7. Great post, Kim!

    I can so relate!

    When we had just 1, or even 2 kids, it was so easy to keep this up, but now that we've adopted Sadie, I feel like we have to beg the grandparents to keep all three!!

    I just called our friends we are going to the beach with this summer, and we've agreed to switch off babysitting for a night while we're in Florida, so we can each have a date night on our vacay - yea!!

  8. So, SO true!! God has blessed me with an outrageously wonderful husband and I am SO glad He also pricked my heart to treat him as such :)
    A few years ago I realized that I wasn't always speaking to him, and sometimes even about him, honorably. You know how they tick you off and then your friend calls and you want to 'vent'? Well... I realized how not God-honoring that was. I mean, I certainly would hope and expect him to talk to ME like he cherished me, why wouldn't I try to do the same for him? So I began to pray that God would help me love Chris like HE loves Chris. Purely, completely, JUST THE WAY HE IS. And God answered those prayers :) Praise God!!
    I can say, even with nine kiddos, and almost never a date night, our kids see us smooching all the time (rated G, of course!) but really, we hug and kiss and snuggle constantly. It's SO important for the kids to see that and SO hard for moms to put their hubbies before their kids... but God's plan is perfect! I'm so glad that once our kiddos do fly the coop, I'll have invested years and years into a relationship with the man God chose for me :)
    Great topic, Kim!!

  9. Forgot to add--great post!

  10. Hubby and I had a similar conversation the other night. Three years ago, we had twin sons born four months early. We lost one of them and spent 7 months of the other's first year back and forth in the hospital. After a friend's husband came home one day last week and told her the marriage was over (married 15 years), it was an eye-opener for us. We have to get back in the habit of focusing on our marriage rather than functioning in survival mode.

  11. I guess in one way we are lucky that in DOTR's line of work, one of the ways he is compensated is with a nice trip, just for us, every year. Although a lot of the people with whom we share these trips bring their kids, we never have. We've traveled with them to plenty of places, so it's not like they've ever been deprived of that, but it is great to know that at least once (and sometimes twice) a year, there will be a week with just the two of us. Our kids are mostly grown and are aware of the fact that although we get on each other's nerves occasionally, don't always agree on everything and our relationship is not always sweetness and light, they do know that there's no doubt we'll always be together and here for them. We've been through many stages in 24 years, and probably a stage where the kids' activities were on the front burner and we were on the far back burner, but now with the nest emptying fast, we are so looking forward to doing more things just for us. The danger is in getting so bogged down in kids' stuff that when they're gone you have no idea who in the world that person is sitting across the table from you.

  12. LOVE THIS! It is is so encouraging and definitely something my husband and I strive for, although it is much easier now that we don't have kids. Once they come along, I pray we will make a daily effort to put our relationship first. Thanks for sharing your heart on the topic!

  13. I 100% agree with you! Its not always easy when the kids are young and struggling with attachment issues, however I hope and believe it will be worth it in the end:0)Great post!

  14. I wholeheartedly agree. We NEVER forget to change the oil in the car, the batteries in the fire detector or set the alarm on the front door at night, however, we sometimes forget to RENEW/RESET our values in our marriage. My husband and I have made great efforts to create more OUR time like we use too and even planned our FIRST CRUISE later in the year! Great thought-provoking post!

  15. What a great post! I fully believe this and it's a constant effort to do so. We've been married 9 years and in our marriage prep class our priest stressed the importance of this and it's always stuck with us. So happy to hear other couples feel the same way beause not all do. Have a great date night!

  16. We had a conversation about this the other day - since our youngest came home 7 months ago (newborn domestic adoption, gastric reflux, sleepless nights, going back to work, him working late nights, etc) our marriage has taken a back seat. The little free time we have we spend together as a family. We haven't had a weekend away in AGES. But, as I told him, this is a phase... We need to make sure it doesn't become routine, but it comes with the territory. I do need to make an effort to schedule some couple time, and I need to make an effort to schedule some ME time as well

  17. Love this! We're probably in the same boat as you right now. We might be there for a little longer, but we'll get there. I'd love to keep some peanuts!! Hey, you can go away to New orleans and drop them off at my house!! (not kidding!!)

  18. Great post. Doug and I fall into that "good-but-not-great" category, as well. Even after almost 14 years, we still get along with each other so well, and he's such a great guy that it's easy for us to put our relationship on the back burner without even really noticing. We've had ONE date night, which was just dinner and a movie, in the 10 months since Kerry has been home. I think it's time for another. Thanks for the nudge.

    Gin =)

  19. My parents have been married 40 years and they ALWAYS put their marriage first. Not in a bad way.. but we knew as kids that in order to make us happy, they needed to be happy too. They did weekly date nights... went away quite a bit. Don't get me wrong, they fought too. They worked in the same business, so they fought. But they did a fairly good job of maintaining a healthy relationship outside of the family business.

    But it was a different time... grandparents were right down the street. We can't afford to go out every week with a babysitter. So we've made adjustments. BUT lately we haven't gone out at all... and I agree. It's time to restructure. Some of it was b/c of Em's reluctance to sleep without me or David. She is good with my parents but they live 8 hours away! Guess I just need to be more creative!

    Good post! Thanks for the reminder.

  20. I agree 100%! Like you, once Emma arrived date nights were a distant memory. We finally had our first sitter in February. Emma will have been home 7 months on Friday, and we are finally going away overnight for the first time at the end of May. I am so excited but feel a little guilty as well!

    Thanks for posting this! I enjoyed reading!

  21. Love this post! Totally agree! Now, do I practice it, no!It's kind of hard with a special needs child,plus to other children. We just went out on a date night for the first time in 3 years!After that night, my husband said that we have to start going out more often. And we will! A lot of the times, when all the children are in bed asleep, he'll go grab us dinner or dessert and we'll watch a movie.
    Thank you for this post!

  22. This brought tears to my eyes.

    First, my doodlebug just turned three and I already pray for the marriage that she will have someday. I pray that my husband and I are good models for her and that she will know what a good marriage looks like. I also pray that her future mate will believe in God, be kind, honest, respectful, and responsible. I often think I am being ridiculous for worrying about such a thing when she is only three. Am I? Do you do this, too?

    In addition, my hubby and I booked a flight to the beach a few months ago (for just us) and I have been feeling guilty and worried about it since (ugh). This post was just what I needed. I am off to pack my sunscreen and know that our little trip will be good for all of us, Doodlebug included!
    Thank You!

  23. I can so relate! We celebrate year 12 at the end of the month, and we were so busy planning b-day parties for the kids (they celebrate in March and April) that we've taken NO time to plan a celebration for US. Date nights (even if they are lame ones) are soooo necessary! I'm also wanting my good marriage to be GREAT, and I agree it's the best gift you can give your kids!

  24. My man comes 1st. I am raising my children to become independent and leave me. Sometimes the children don't understand that he comes first.

  25. So happy you are getting a much needed and derseved getaway with hubs. I'm not married but pray for a marriage like you have and describe. You are a great example for the peanuts. (whom I would love to hang out with for a few days! ;O)

  26. this is one greeat POSt my dear
    You put it into the right perspective in all ways!

    Like many children will never have that experience of saying my mom amd dad werethe BEST
    I So do believe your WILL!
    AGAIN very much needed very well written!
    What an encourager you are !

  27. I love you post. I love your marriage. I want your marriage. Please work at your marriage. Treasure it. Hold on tight to it. I however lost mine. I was married. I thought I was happy and in a happy marriage. We adopted my peanut from China and life was grand. We/I was so happy, the next adoption was started and two months away from the next trip to China. Two little months and then the rug was pulled out from under me. My husband came home and informed me it was over. He didn't want to be married anymore. He moved in with my ex-best friend. I found out the whole thing started about 2 months after we came home.

    I lost my marriage. I lost my best friend. I almost lost my mind.

    I worry about my peanut and how she will do in the future. I worry about future attachment problems. I just plan old worry. It is very weird being the only divorce/adoptive parent I know. I have no idea of the future and I have no role models that have gone through the same thing.

    So anyone reading this, please make your marriage work. Hold on tight to it. If I coulda, would, shoulda...I would have.

  28. Amen. Amen. I worked on a post like this in my mind today and it will be written soon! It is so important to put your marriage first. I can't wait to hear how you celebrate 15 years! We will be married 15 years in July & I can't wait to just focus on my man for a few days!!!

  29. I soo LOVE this post.. I sooo wish that my marriage would have been like this.. but it takes two to make this happen.. and I guess I wasn't blessed with the second part..
    LOVE U..

  30. I enjoyed reading this post. I, too, have a very easy marriage and I don't take one day for granted. I don't know what I would do if I had a "needy" husband or if we really had to work on things! I feel so blessed to be in a happy and healthy marriage.

    Thanks for the reminder to make more time to nurture our marriage. Life has gotten sooooo busy and I can't remember the last time we had a date night!

  31. amen kim, AMEN
    i couldn't agree more
    i have witnessed friends who i think are fabulous women, fabulous moms but they put their children and ALL of their children's needs above the marriage
    & i have watched from the sidelines, their marriage become more of a business arrangement than a passionate first place commitment. its easy to get into that role especially when our little ones are small & we are zapped ( physically & emotionally ) by the time our hubbies get home.
    you are doing it well kim!
    preach on sista
    oh & ps, if you lived here in atlanta, i have a 17year old who loves to babysit & has a crush on will , harry, & kate xo

  32. What a great post. I can honestly say I DO model a great marriage now. But when my children were little I think we fell short of that mark. Not that our marriage was BAD, it just wasn't one that I want them to model their own marriages after. Thank goodness I saw the light before it was too late.

    Loved this post. Thank you for sharing!

  33. Beautifully written post Kim and so true. My parents modeled to me the very things you have written and yes it has made a huge impact on me. I have been married for 3 years and Blake and I are both very passionate about keeping our marriage a priority. We don't have children yet, but I hope when we do that we will continue to covet our time together and not back up from that. :)

    Hugs - LA

  34. This was such an excellent post Kim! It is too easy to let your marriage take a backseat during these childrearing years. There is always somewhere to go and something that needs to be done......marriage takes constant communication and work and if you disconnect and stop making special time for one another, it is not good.

    Our nights on the town without the kids have dwindled, and are usually far and few between, but even if we can steal an hour or two on the deck talking and enjoying each others company without the kids, I feel as though we have gotten some "us time"

    Thanks for the reminder...


  35. Great post...once again! I love your honesty! I must say that on your blog sometimes I think "WOW, Kim has the PERFECT life, marriage, etc" While you do emphasize you have a great marriage I love how honest you are about this topic and the snippet about snapping at each other. You have great insights. I actually asked Brian to list his priorities. He passed with flying colors!!!!!

  36. Also, I wish I lived in Houston so I could babysit the peanuts!!!

  37. If you want to celebrate your 15th where you grew up I will happily and loving watch the peanuts! I plan all of our date nights b/c if it was up to hubby (the non-planner) they would never happen. I make sure we go away- even if for a night or two as a couple a few times a year. My girlfriend commented to me recently, "wow, that must be really expensive paying a babysitter for that long" and I replied "cheaper than getting divorced". She just shrugged b/c she doesn't go on date nights or away with hubby. Everyone is different, but I think it is really important to reconnect. Thanks for a great post.

  38. Just catching up on blog reading. Hope you are able to get some rest and true relaxation and pray that you'll get some answers on your health too!

    Definitely agree with you on this post. Children reap great benefits of their parents' strong and healthy marriage. And if I lived down in H, I'd definitely keep the peanuts for you again.

    Love and prayers,

  39. Thank you for blessing us with this reminder.

  40. Lovely words, Kim. You and Dave are really such a cute couple! I snap at my husband sometimes too ;) He is unfailingly patient with me. Here is a quote I googled that i remember from childhood. My parents lived by it too!!

    "The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother."
    -- Theodore Hesburgh

  41. Well Good Morning!

    What a beautiful picture of the two of you Kim and what a wonderful and heartfelt post! And congratulations on your upcoming anniversary! We have a big one coming up in a couple of weeks too!

    I think it's so great that you all are going to do your date nights again! And how you were so consistent in doing so before the arrival of your precious Kate! That must be something you really look forward to each week!
    You are such a beautiful and Godly example of marriage and motherhood...

    Maybe you could write some follow up posts on marriage for all of your readers! The How to's with date nights and such...that would be wonderful!!

    We have only gone "away" (for less than 48 hours) one time in 10 years and that was 9 years ago.
    (Before Babies)

    Now, I can't imagine leaving my babies!! I honestly do not know how people do it. :) But we do not have anyone we could leave them with either... I guess it makes a difference when you have parents and grandparents and in laws who are constantly helping, etc. We do not have any of that:)

    We have friends who constantly leave their children and I can't say that their marriage is any happier- in fact I know it is not.

    But I have one who is grown(20)and I know how fast it all goes by and how precious these younger years are! So I am just treasuring this time with them...

    I would love to hear your suggestions. I am always reading and love to learn about marriage and family and faith and love the combination of those three things...

    I believe marriage is a beautiful ministry.......

    Congratulations again on your 15 year mark!!

    Many Blessings,


  42. One of my favorite posts - very well said! Hope you are feeling better...

  43. You are so wise! Love you!

    My husband and I are very lucky as the boys have grandparents out of town who want them to visit as much as possible on weekends. So... you would think we completely focus on each other during that precious time. Do we? No... not like we should. And just last night (Friday), both boys were out at sleepovers. My husband and I SHOULD have gone out for dinner, but we were just too tired! We are getting better (you may remember my post on (I'm guessing on the date) April 7 or 8)!

    Great post! We all need reminders...

  44. What an excellent post, Kim. My husband and I really feel it when we haven't had a date night in awhile. Now... during our first few years home with the Tongginator, we had to get creative with our date nights... because we couldn't leave her either. But I can honestly say we have a good marriage, with periods of greatness. It helps to have Jesus in the mix... as well as excellent role models in my parents.

  45. We JUST starting going out again!!! It took me quite a few years to realize that i should be putting my marriage and my man first (after God) and boy - does it make a difference! I am SO thrilled to be going back out on dates - eating dinner - walking the mall - whatever - just the two of us!! We are going away for SIX days in June together - ALONE!! I am hoping that time moves ever so slowly & we can come back rejuvenated!

  46. I agree that we do need to focus on our marriage. We were married for 23 years when we adopted so are actually doing it in reverse this second go around. We have had maybe 6 dinners out without her in 19 months, there are too many issues and we will not let this little girl ever scream again that her parents aren't with her. Over time, maybe another year or so, we will go out more but we take her with us, she is a joy. You have to show your love in more ways to your spouse, and now our love and focus on AA, we know what is best, so we love each other more for doing that.
    I agree with you, we do need to find other ways to focus on each other, but hopefully AA will remember the times with all three of us together, seeing us hug and kiss, hold hands, and care for each other.

    Alyzabeth's Mommy

  47. Great post & excellent message, Kim!!! A great reminder for my husband and I, as scheduling a date night is typically a last-minute thing when we happen to find a spare night vs. making it a priority to proactively do on a regular basis. Thanks for the reminder!

  48. I completely agree! Great post. and lovely blog. :)

    nicole visiting from

  49. Great words of wisdom. My husband and I took a 16 week class called "Growing Kids God's Way". It talked about this very thing, God first, marriage second and children third. It addressed the problems that can arise when families are kid-centric. We do date nights as well. However, we need to get in a better routine...we're rather sporadic.

    Hope you're feeling better, getting some good rest and relaxation and hope your Mother's Day was splendid.

  50. This post was phenominal Kim! Even for someone like me that is not married! You do have to focus on your marriage before your children and you do have to be sure to make time for one another. Thank you for writing this and helping so many of us!

    PS- you want to fly the peanuts to Dallas I will TOTALLY watch them!!!

  51. I am finally sitting down long enough to read this wonderful post!!!! Kim, I have seen you and Dave in action and I don't know another couple that work side by side like you do!!! I have no doubt your kids are going to grow up and say they want to be just like the wonderful role models they have had!!!! But, like you said so eloquently we have to make the conscience effort to put our marriage before our kids "to do" list!!! Jeff and I are living this too.... I crave some date nights again soon!!! And, an overnight sounds like a dream come true! It will happen again!!!! And, you are now in the perfect place to do it!!!! Send those Peanuts to me at the lake for a week! And, then you and Dave can really have some fun!!!

    Love you!

  52. Hopsy planned a Dallas blogger gathering tonight that was so much fun (even if I was the oldest person there by about 25 years - ha!). Your name came up (it was my claim to fame that I know you in real life!) and several of the girls mentioned this post of yours and how great it was. I agree! Beautifully written and well modeled by you and Dave.

    Hope you had a Happy Mother's Day and that Will is feeling better. Hugs to you!

    PS I will be Hopsy's assistant if you bring the peanuts to Dallas!

  53. I love the dress you are wearing in the pic!

    Good advice.


Thank you for your kindness.