With a first marriage begins with the relationship, front and center. Children don’t come along until later. But in a blended family, children are already present when the marriage begins. This is one reason blended families have a higher frequency of divorce. They face several challenges at the very beginning that aren’t present in other marriage relationships.
One of those challenges is the priority of the marriage.
When children are present at the beginning of a relationship, the children often become first. They take priority over the marriage itself.
To some people, this doesn’t seem like a huge concern. Of course we should focus on our children, they might think. It’s good for them! But children aren’t the nucleus of a family. Marriage is. And children are a temporary assignment. They are going to grow up and start families of their own.
God explains His laws for marriage in Genesis 2:24-25. One of these is the law of priority. He says “a man will leave his father and mother.” That means the marriage comes first over any other relationship.
If your marriage revolves around your children, what happens at age 18 when they leave for college? What happens when they get married? These kinds of marriages lose their foundation. The husband and wife don’t know what to do with each other. That’s why many divorces happen among empty-nest couples.
Here are three things I want mothers and fathers in every marriage to remember, whether they are in blended families or not:
First, your children will feel more secure when you are happy and when they see you in a happy marriage.
Second, your successful marriage gives them a vision for the future. They’ll follow your lead. Are you giving them a good example to emulate?
And third, when they grow up, you will still enjoy a stable life and relationship. You won’t be emotionally dependent on them. This helps them flourish as adults, helps your marriage stay healthy and allows their marriages be their top priority.
A successful family does not build itself around children, but around the marriage itself. Yes, children deserve your attention. Love them unconditionally. Give them quality time. But don’t neglect your marriage to focus on your kids.
Put your marriage first, and remember this: When you work on your marriage, you are doing your children a favor.