Jill: Over the past few months we have coached quite a few young couples that have felt their hearts are miles apart. As we dug into each of their stories, it became evident that parenting had taken over their lives, leaving their marriages on autopilot.
Mark: In our book, No More Perfect Marriages, Jill and I identified seven “slow fades.” Slow fades are activities and attitudes that pull our hearts apart so slowly that we don’t even realize it’s happening. Over the past few years, we’ve started to add more slow fades to our list. The slow fade of child-centeredness is one of those.
Jill: Child-centeredness happens when we place our children and grandchildren above our marriage relationship. We may believe we are making the right decision by making them the higher priority, but actually this action creates more harm than good.
Mark: Our kids–at home and adult–need the foundation of a mom and dad who love each other. When your parents struggle or divorce, it’s painful at any age.
Jill: Relationships have to be nurtured and a marriage has to be invested in. There’s no autopilot in marriage. It may feel like there just isn’t enough time and energy to spend time on your marriage. However, you have to make it a priority. You can’t afford not to.
Mark: Genesis 2:24 tells us, “a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” While you may feel united in the early months or years, it takes intentionality to stay connected and united.
Jill: So how do we move from child-centered to marriage-centered. Here are three steps:
Practice Advanced Decision-Making
Set a date night routine–weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly–where you take time for just the two of you. If you need a babysitter, set up a plan for sitting–whether it’s family or a local teen or college student–where you’re on their schedule as well. Protect this plan and keep it a priority.
Set up a daily connection plan. Will you chat as you each drive home from work? Will you spend time talking while you prepare dinner together? Will you snuggle on the couch after the kids are in bed? Create a plan that will allow you to talk about life, feelings, struggles, hopes, and dreams.
Keep Flirting and Having Fun Together
Send funny gifs back and forth. Send messages from our free Flirt Alert to your spouse. Facetime when you travel. Intentionally keep your hearts connected when you’re apart…no matter if it’s hours or days.
Get help sooner rather than later.
Most couples delay getting help which makes the issues that have to be untangled even bigger. If you have recurring conflict or you find that one or both of you are feeling disconnected, it’s time to ask for help. The sooner you ask for help, the easier it is to get back on track. You can seek out counseling or coaching to help you sort through issues.
Mark: Don’t make the mistake of putting the kids–no matter their age–before your marriage. Don’t believe the lie that, “if we love each other, we’ll be okay.” Recognize that love must be nurtured. Give your kids the gift of a firm marriage foundation.
What about you? What do you do to stay marriage-centered?
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