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Making Marriage Work for Your Kids

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Making Marriage Work for the Kids
Do Your Kids a Favor - Love Your Spouse Book - Moody Publishing

Do Your Kids a Favor...Love Your Spouse Book © Photo courtesy of Moody Publishing

Kendra and John Smiley wrote Do Your Kids a Favor...Love Your Spouse (Moody Publishers, April 2008) to show people that a strong bond as spouses can help you be better parents. They also wanted to demonstrate that bringing God into the relationship and making Him your top priority will help you keep your other priorities straight. Regardless of your beliefs, the message that the Smileys share about marriage and parenting is one to which we can all benefit. Here is their advice -

Q - What is the role your children play in your marriage?

Kendra - A lot of people think, "Our marriage isn’t really solid right now, let’s have kids, that’ll solidify it." Statistically speaking, it doesn’t do the job. It’s very tiring when we begin our family. It’s hard to keep our focus, and that’s one of the things we try to emphasize at the very beginning [of the book]. Keep your focus where it should be. Keep your priorities in order.

Q - What tips do you have for keeping your priorities in order?

Kendra - My older sister’s husband died at the age of 45 of a brain tumor six weeks after diagnosis. Before he died, he said to me, "Sister, I should have gone fishing more." What he meant wasn't just about fishing. He was talking about keeping priorities in order. That really pushed me over the edge. In my heart, I heard God say, "I want you to repeat [your priorities] with water colors, and I want that paper to be in an upright position." Any artist knows that all that paint is going to run to the bottom. That’s precisely what needed to happen. With the Lord at the top of the list and my spouse and our children and then work and other good things, it meant that the things on top colored everything under them on the list, an important thing.

Q - How do you keep marriage intact while parenting?

John - If we’re getting a handle on the differences we bring into a marriage (gender, personality, baggage from our past, traditions, etc.), we are doing our kids a favor because a lot of the time, these are the things that are hampering our parenting. If we can’t get a handle on the gender differences or personality differences and spend our time as mom and dad irritated with one another over those things, then we can’t be an effective team. Parenting, we feel, is a team sport. The more of these things we can understand and get a handle on, the more effective we’ll be as parents.

Q - How do you get a handle on your differences?

John - Recognizing them and looking at how those things hamper a marriage [helps]. If we’re constantly bickering over those differences or pushing each other away because we’re different, then we can’t be on the same page. The more we can understand those differences, the more we won’t be irritated by one another.

Q - Why is it important to our children that we have a good marriage?

Kendra - That is the foundation and security kids need as they are growing up. It is a model for them to build a solid relationship with their future spouse.

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