Kids help marriage
Do you find that you barely have enough time parenting your children let alone enriching your marriage? The two roles don't have to compete with each other, but can actually strengthen the role of the other. You can be both a good partner and a good parent.

Children enrich your marriage:

* Marriage is the basis for family. Parents must lead their lives and marriages with their children, not for them. Never feel guilty working on your marriage. When you are working on your marriage, you're also working on your family.

* Children remind you that you're one. There is no denying how a child's traits come from each parent. Compliment your spouse, "Robbie laughs just like you do - it's contagious," or "Annie has your pleasant, easygoing personality." Affirm your observations, it will encourage your mate.

* Children require team play. Childcare is not the sole job of one parent. Brainstorm ways to lessen stressful situations such as "morning madness" or the late afternoon "suicide hour." (E.g. one parent could assume the responsibility for breakfast and making lunches, while the other made sure the children get up and get dressed.)

* Children promote appreciation. Because the responsibilities of parenting leave less free time for the two of you, you'll learn to appreciate each other in new ways - and in shorter intervals.

* Children promote creativity. To be alone together is a real treat and one worth working for. You'll think of all kinds of ways to spend time alone. A "stroller date" will give you time with your spouse - and give your baby a lot of fresh air. Do errands together, plan a getaway the same weekend as the band trip, utilize the Saturday mornings for the two of you when your teens like to sleep in till noon.

* Children improve your communication and keep you honest. You're the model. Think before you speak. Parents need to have the same "line" when it comes to family rules and policy. Make sure your talk matches your walk, and vice versa.

* Children prevent boredom. With children around, there is always something going on.

* Children give great rewards. Witnessing your child's first day at kindergarten or college graduation will give your life excitement and memories.

Marriage enriches your children:

* Parents provide security. A healthy, enriched marriage provides children with a sense of security and love.

* Marriage models sound relationships. Your children learn how to build healthy relationships by watching you and your spouse relate to each other.

* Parents give guidance and leadership. When parents are united, they send positive messages. Your children learn to trust you. They know you aren't perfect, but know that you are real and committed.

* Parents teach life skills. The home is the first school for learning life skills. The marriage model is the ideal place to teach teamwork, stewardship, responsibility, boundaries, etc.

* Marriage passes on traditions and values. What you do in your family will likely be passed down to generations to come. The best way to help your children build successful marriages is to have one - lived out before them day by day.

David and Claudia Arp are the founders and directors of Marriage Alive International and conduct seminars across the United States and Europe. They have written numerous books, including The Second Half of Marriage and The Love Book. They have three adult sons and live in Knoxville, Tenn. This book is part of the 10 Great Dates to Revitalize Your Marriage video curriculum.
For more information about Marriage Alive Couple Enrichment Resources contact: Marriage Alive International, Inc., P.O. Box 31408, Knoxville, TN 37930. Phone: 423-691-8505 Fax: 423-691-1575.
Taken from 10 Great Dates to Revitalize Your Marriage by David & Claudia Arp. Copyright (c) 1997 by David & Claudia Arp. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530, 1-800-727-3480.