Yesterday marked six years since Andrew and I stood before God and vowed to love one another for life. In planning our wedding, we chose the most traditional vows. We promised to love one another "for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health." We also pledged to lovingly accept children and bring them up according to God's Holy will. Basically, we agreed to be a family forever...no matter what life threw at us, no matter how our family shape or size changed...we were unbreakably bonded.
Children change your marriage. Seems obvious, right? But I'm not sure any couple can be fully prepared for the way their dynamics will change once kids are added to the mix. Suddenly all spare time is focused on a tiny little human (or two) who is completely incapable of taking care of itself. Most all spontaneity is out the window--a simple date requires that a babysitter and bottles/meals are planned in advance. Weekends change. Fun activities change. Every change is more than worth the joy that your sweet little one brings, but compromises must be made. Your life, your marriage, cannot remain the same.
So often you hear of a couple having a child to "save their marriage." I cannot imagine a worse idea. Marriages require time, care and attention. A healthy marriage requires a daily commitment to choose one another...to choose to love one another. Children drain these precious resources. Little ones monopolize your time, energy, and love. Sure, watching your partner become a parent is a unique and wonderful experience. But even the beauty of watching a husband become a dad cannot change the fact that a marriage with young kids is likely not receiving the nourishment it needs. For the sake of the children, the relationship will often find itself neglected.
So what's the best gift you can give your children? You can bring them into a relationship that doesn't need to be saved. You can ensure that your relationship can withstand a little neglect and still remain undoubtedly in tact. And, whenever possible, you can take time to nourish the love that made you a family in the first place.