How Your Own Children Can Destroy Your Marriage
by: Saleama A. Ruvalcaba
When my youngest daughter Priscilla was born, someone gave us a few onesies for her. One of them read “I am a princess, mommy is a queen, and daddy’s around here somewhere.”
You might think I’m overreacting, but I threw that onesie away. It might be considered a silly little saying that shouldn’t be taken seriously, but I know firsthand, that at times, husbands desperately want to feel loved in their own home. When I became a Christian several years ago, I was confronted with the fact that my children could no longer be the center of my world. After God, my husband came next.
The idea of putting Omar ahead of my children seemed absurd to me.
These were MY children. I carried them in MY body. I gave BIRTH to them. I’m the mother. It is my parental duty to care and protect them. They come before everyone right?
Your children do not come before your husband. When Omar was growing up, his mother repeatedly told him and his brother’s; “You guys come before your dad.”
When children enter our lives, we do have a responsibility to love and care for them. It’s our responsibility to nurture our children and to provide their needs. But in no way can we allow our children to dominate and control our marriage.
In Stormie Omartian’s’ book, The Power of Prayer to Change Your Marriage she says, “While God wants us to love and care for our children to the best of our ability, He doesn’t want us to make idols of them. There is a fine line between the caring nurture that gives your children the best chance in life, and the other extreme of letting them become an obsession to the point that it jeopardizes your marriage.”
Omartian continues; (paraphrase) making your spouse feel unimportant and neglected over your children does not help your marriage.
As a mother, and from my personal observation, we spend more time trying to plan life around our children, and less time around our spouse.
That’s all we talk about. Play dates, parks, museums, free things to do with our kids, and weekend adventures. We don’t even have friends with other women if it doesn’t revolve around our children.
“You want to meet for coffee?” “So we can hang out and talk?” “Well, is there a coffee bar that has a play area so we can bring our kids too?”
And to be honest, we operate the same way when it comes to our marriage. Our children dominate our marriage to the detriment of it.
Remember Genesis 2:24 where it says,
“That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife and they become one flesh.” (NIV)
There is nowhere in the entire Bible that says husband and wife are one until they have children. Then after they have children, their children are allowed to control the marriage until the children are adults and move out. Then after the children are adults and move out, the husband and wife are again one.
2 Corinthians 2:11 “In order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.” (NIV)
Make no mistake about it; Satan will use your precious children to cause division in your home.
The home is the foundation of salvation, and thus, Satan will use any trick necessary to break up the home. Your children are not exempt from being used as a tool by Satan to divide your marriage.
The Struggle Is Real
Before me and Omar understood the importance of physical intimacy as a major component to a healthy marriage, we were only intimate when I wanted to be intimate. I was always too tired, or busy or just didn’t feel like it. However, when it was time to have children, all of sudden I had all the energy in the world to be intimate.
Omar noticed this and mentioned it to me. He was hurt that I had no problem with intimacy when it was time for children, but once the children were born, he felt like he no longer mattered to me. Like he was only there as a sperm donor. I let our children sleep with us. I understand some parents co-sleep. I personally don’t think anything is wrong with it, however, my heart and attitude toward co-sleeping with my children was wrong. I never attempted any nights of adjustments so Omar could feel loved as well.
Visualize this picture; intimacy was wonderful and great while we were attempting children. Omar felt loved. The children are born and here I am wrapped around my child in our bed with affection and love – while he’s in the corner of our bed feeling used and unloved.
I can assure you, that is not what God intends for a happy loving marriage. Children cannot govern our marriage to the point of hurt and neglect to our spouse. When we allow this to happen, we have come from under our alignment with God and when we come from under God’s alignment we are in essence living in disobedience. When we live in disobedience we will not see God’s favor and blessings in our lives. In Kingdom Woman, a book by Dr. Tony Evans and his daughter Chrystal Evans Hurst, they say;
“If you live in disobedience, you might as well stop praying. If you are not obeying, you might as well get off your knees, unfold your hands, open your eyes and go for walk. You can do whatever you like, but you don’t need to pray.”
These are powerful words from Dr. Evans which are true! If you come from under God’s alignment, you are living in disobedience, and God will not answer your prayers.
Evans continues on the subject of children, “God is not trying to create look-a likes of you. That’s not his goal. God’s goal for kingdom men and women raising kingdom kids is to replicate His image on earth.”
In other words ladies, you cannot raise kingdom children who replicate the image of God if you treat your husband like he doesn’t matter to you. And likewise, you also cannot raise kingdom children when you don’t allow your husband to raise HIS children through his relationship with Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 6:4 “You fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in training and admonition of the Lord.”
Allow Your Husband To Lead
Our oldest son, Darien, had misbehaved at a friend’s house. Omar made the decision to punish Darien which resulted in Darien not attending a school event we previously told him he could could attend in which I initially agreed with Omar. Darien decided to call his grandmother (my mother) to plead his case. His grandmother called us to plead his case for him – and I made the HUGE mistake of agreeing with Darien and my mother. I overruled Omar’s decision and Darien was allowed to attend this event.
I cannot begin to explain the anger Omar had. He was so upset. He would not talk to me. At first I tried to justify what I had done. Omar’s resentment toward me was so strong. I could feel it. I was wrong on every single level! There’s no wonder at that time in our marriage we had no tenderness, love, or compassion toward each other. We were simply two people living in a house, with MY children, who I made the center of my world.
The time had come for ME to make a change.
I had to repent to God for my wrongdoing. I had to apologize to Omar for the way I treated him. I also had to pray and ask God to help me trust His perfect alignment for family. God continually led me to places in Scripture, to marriage retreats, and books from respected Christian leaders which helped me completely change my view on this subject.
Jesus Christ Changes Everything
Psalm 127:1 “Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.”
It’s one thing if your husband does not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. If you husband does not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, pray without ceasing for God to reach him.
However, if your husband is trying his best to live as a disciple of Jesus Christ, you must allow him to be the spiritual leader of your family through his prayer and relationship with Christ. Take my word, you will not enjoy a Christ-centered loving marriage if you are allowing your children to come between you and your husband. You will not enjoy a Christ-centered marriage if you do not make your husband feel loved, while you shower your children with love. You will not enjoy a Christ-centered marriage if you don’t allow the Holy Spirit to speak to your husband for the well-being of your family.
God has entrusted you and your husband to raise your children. They cannot come between your marriage. Together you must prayerfully seek God as you raise your children, but ultimately you must allow your husband to be the spiritual leader for your family. To further the kingdom of God, your children need to see what a godly marriage looks like.
Omar is not the same man he was before we accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. I am thoroughly convinced he has developed into a godly man of integrity because of my outward love for him, my support of him, and my prayers for him.
I am convinced he is the godly man he is today because our children come after our marriage covenant with God.
This article can be applied to every family situation; biological, adoption, blended, or even older adult children. God’s alignment does not change.
I adore my children. I am their biggest cheerleader. I want the best for them. I am proud of them.
But Omar is my husband, and he comes before our children.
-Saleama A. Ruvalcaba