The best gift I can give my daughter is a great marriage.
That’s a controversial statement in this culture. Kids have become the end-all-be-all of their parents’ lives, to the point many singles view parenthood as something to put off as long as possible.
But my daughter is not my world. She’s part of it, but not the sum of it.
My marriage will always come before my kids. It’s a vow I made on my wedding day and it’s a vow I’m living in the every day. It’s a promise to guard my heart, attitudes, and words toward my husband – my daughter’s father – because her happiness depends on it.
First a Wife, Second a Mother
I became a mother almost two years ago, and I’m about to become one again. I hope to be made a mama several times over. But I am not a mother first. I am first a woman and a wife.
I was born and made a woman by the hand of God. It is my foremost identity. I am also a wife – a role I accepted and vowed to protect. Motherhood, while a role I treasure dearly, is not the whole of who I am. The guilt and emotional burden our society throws upon motherhood does not need to be taken up by me. By embracing my identity as woman and wife first, I see through the lie that motherhood – and how my children turn out – defines who I am in this world.
I am my husband’s wife: I am his lover, his fighter, and his friend. Ours is a relationship distinct from the one we have with our daughter, and it will always be that way. It is “mom and dad against the world” not because we don’t love our daughter, but because we do. Our relationship is teaching her what love looks like. Our marriage reveals to her what two very different people can do when bound together by the covenant of God.
Marriage, when built on the biblical example, is the clearest depiction of God’s selfless love for the world. By protecting my marriage, I prove the power of the gospel is real and effective – a truth my daughter will witness every day.
We are Her Example
Marriage is designed to sanctify us, drawing us into greater holiness and dependence upon God. It’s not easy; things of eternal significance rarely are. But when pursued and protected, marriage becomes one of the most fulfilling relationships on earth. That doesn’t happen by accident.
My relationship with my husband will either show my daughter that Christ is preeminent – and that I believe He has the power to transform lives – or it will show her that faith in God doesn’t make a difference in human relationships. By prioritizing my marriage, I show my daughter that faith is as practical as it is spiritual. I teach her what true love looks like. I show her how to choose a man who loves, protects, and pursues his wife. I am her example.
This is why prioritizing my marriage is the best gift I can give her. She will not be with us forever; we are equipping her to become an adult. One day she will leave us and start a family of her own. Our marriage is part of her training: the most powerful picture of what love, security, and selflessness should look like in Christian life. We mold her view of romance. We guide her perception of men, marital roles, and conflict resolution.
In other words, our marriage prepares her for life.
We are Her Foundation
I protect my marriage because it has the power to alter my daughter’s view of the world. The marriage I live in front of her can change her perception of love, truth, and relationships. Her security is directly affected by the level of unity she sees between me and her father.
So I pray for my marriage. I fight for my marriage. I take time for my marriage. I make a distinct separation between my role of wife and my calling as mother. It’s why I take time for my appearance each day, why my husband and I put sex on the calendar, and why I establish a daily routine. These habits will be harder the more children we have, but we have set a precedent in order to smooth that transition. Our marriage is the foundation of our childrens’ future. To neglect it would be to neglect them.
When we get married, we all want a “happily ever after”. But we forget that the “ever after” includes our children. If, when the honeymoon fades into the past, we sacrifice the “happily” by putting marriage last, we aren’t the only ones missing out. Our children miss out as well. Their security, confidence, and happiness is directly influenced by the environment of the home. This environment of love is achieved by concentrating on the relationship that founded our homes in the first place: our marriages.
By putting my husband and marriage first, I’m not cheating my daughter. Rather, I am actively teaching, leading, and influencing her with my actions and words.
How do I know this?
Because it’s what my parents did for me. Nearly thirty years after their wedding day, their actions still speak to the power of God and the gospel. I am the result of a protected marriage. I am a child put second to their relationship. And I am who I am because of it.
My marriage will always come before my kid. It’s my investment in her future, in her heart, and in her soul.