When we first had Ryan back in 1995 we read some wonderful books. One of the best bits of advice we ever read was that, in parenthood, you start with the "full on" parenting and then slowly let go. You let them begin to make their own decisions as you watch from the sidelines. To go in reverse, to be lax in parenting and then tighten up, will only cause rebellion. So far, this has proven true in our family. We don't have rebellious teens. We have teens that are in the process of gaining independence and planning for the future. Of course, we're still parenting, but we're allowing them to grow-up. Yes, this means less advice and much more listening as they work through new stuff. Guiding where needed, but letting go bit by bit. In the process of raising children into adulthood, there are some topics that we've been talking about lately. Sexual purity, God's calling for a job, choosing a spouse, being a spouse, etc... The hard stuff. In this quest to raise Godly children we're looking to walk with the wise. To find people who have "been there, done that" with success.
I found this letter a while back and I'm going to share it. Let me preface it by saying that there are no double standards here. The spouses we want our children to find reflect the kind of spouse we want our children to be. I love this letter. It's the pursuit of Holiness rather than the pursuit of Happiness.
This letter can be found at http://raisinghomemakers.com/2012/a-letter-to-my-children-about-marriage/. It was written by Kelly. Her blog is http://www.generationcedar.com/main/.
Should the Lord give you the good gift of a husband or wife, and I hope He does, there are a few things I want you to know. Things that you may not hear from anyone else, and certainly not on TV or other media. Sadly, your church may not even tell you.
Marriage, sweet little people, is not for the purpose of your happiness. Happy as I want you to be and hope you will be, you must yet understand that marriage is God’s design and His purposes must be pursued in order for you to be truly happy. His end is holiness and He will use all things in a life devoted to Him to fulfill that end.
To my girls:
Marry a man whose first pursuit is Christ. After that, he is not hard to please. Admire him, cheer him on and show gratitude, and he will fall over himself trying to please you. Smile often, speak well of him always, and do whatever necessary to try and maintain a pleasant mood about you so that it transfers to your home, making it a place where he and your children love to be.
You’ll have bad days of course, crying days even, and that’s when you go to your bedroom, kneel on the floor and beg the Lord to carry you. Then get up, get a fresh perspective (crayons will come off the wall), and try again. Above all else, make a home.
To my boys:
Marry a woman whose first pursuit is Christ. After that, she may be hard to please only if you don’t know “the secret”. What is that? I’m glad you asked. The secret to pleasing your wife is to make her feel safe and treasured. You may have to move out of your comfort zone to do this at times. She won’t always readily translate the oil change to love, though it means that. But let me give you a “secret question”–a question you need to ask her often. It’s not just in the asking, though. Be sure to focus your eyes on hers, maybe even touch her shoulder or face, and then ask: “What’s on your mind these days? “ And then be ready to listen. She wants you to draw her out. She will perceive this as your protection over the matters of her heart. Tenderness, listening, protection. That’s what she wants.
To you all:
If your wife or husband does something really stupid, forgive. If they do it again, forgive again. Forgiveness must be the propelling force in your lives each day. Dwell on the strengths, push out thoughts of their weaknesses. Take every thought captive–choose to love.
Here’s that part you are not going to hear often:
If you find yourself “not happy”, having lost attraction, disinterested, etc., you are not permitted to even think about a divorce. If you find yourselves arguing more and more, don’t think for a minute that “the children will be better off out of this”, because they won’t.
The vows you took on your wedding day were not suggestions. They were covenant vows, before a Holy God, family and friends, to stay with this person the rest of your life, even if you don’t feel like it. You swore a solemn oath and if you can’t live up to it, don’t get married. Decide up front that your marriage is irrevocable. There is far more motivation for getting along if your “marriage house” has no door.
Do not share intimate thoughts or feelings with anyone of the opposite sex. Do not find yourself alone for any length of time with such either.
Divorce is not a “private option”. It will affect multiple families for many generations. When you “separate what God has joined” you permanently injure far more than just yourself.
Guard your marriage as fiercely as you would guard your own life. Treat your spouse as an extension of your flesh, just as God sees you. Treat your spouse like other family members. You know, “you gotta love ‘em, they’re the only family you’ve got”.
I want you to be happy, I surely do. But I will pray for you to be holy.