When Kids Are the Glue

Posted on October 30, 2013 | 17 comments

All relationships start with a commonality – a relational glue that binds two people together.

For some it is a favorite bar visited with regularity, love of basketball, or having attended the same church together.

The strength of a relationship and its ability to grow and mature is defined by the quality of the commonality.

And that is why so many marriages fall into the trap of making the kids the glue that holds the relationship together.

Instead of the marriage being the primary relationship in the household – and the kids drawing a sense of security from that firm foundation – each parent focuses on the child (or children) as the relationship to build into.

Everything becomes about what makes the kids happy and gives them a “better future”.

So mom makes the kids’ favorite foods.

Dad makes sure to show up for a sporting events.

And mom shuttles the kids to their multiple commitments.

And dad works extra for the college savings account.

And the routine of life is predicated on homework, when the child eats, where the child needs to be, what the child watches, and when the child goes to bed.

This seems right and self-less, because after all, it is for the kids.

But that is a trap.

Children feel the relational pressure of being the center around which everything orbits.

Children feel the entitlement of having everything fit their needs.

Children feel the triangulation of being the primary relational outlet for each parent.

Far from protecting the children, such pressures help form the lies (see The Lie) that will shape their false self, and which they will carry into their own relationships.

Many couples feel this stress, and the shame and dissatisfaction that goes along with it, and gut it out or become susceptible to another relationship or live as roommates because, after all, it would be selfish not the live for the kids. Right? (see But She’s a Good Mom)

But what happens to the relationship when the glue goes away?

When the child begins to develop their own relational world in high school, then graduates to go off to work or college and leaves the home – what is left to bind the couple together?

Sadly, many discover that there is nothing. The spouses may have developed interests independent of each other, or suddenly realize that their reason for living has left the house.

They look and realize that they do not know each other, having grown separately and differently so as not to share any commonality at all.

At that point, it may look like the marriage ended suddenly, but in truth it had been drifting to this point for years.

Relationships need common interest.

It is never to late to begin to develop a relational glue, but it does take a motivation to nurture the relationship. That may require retraining your primary focus off of other things.

Begin taking nightly walks. Find a hobby you both delight in that will develop mutual respect and admiration. Do things together for the sake of the other.

Each spouse may have to enter into something they don’t love initially, but that is part of being self-less.

Beyond this, if you are reading this as a follower of Christ, make developing your marital identity in Christ a large chunk of your glue. Other interests are great, but Christ is the true source of identity and worth. Not based on performance. In him you will learn to view the other with compassion and love and have the security to be vulnerable.

I’m not saying center around church activities (although there may be some of those to partake in), but center in Christ. Pray together. Meditate on scripture together and listen to one another. Experience the fruit of being in Christ together – serving, community, generosity, etc. – because of the commonality. (see It Takes Three – warning: very old blog, different style, different voice)

What common interests do you share with your spouse? What could you do to improve making the marital relationship primary?

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  1. I love the wisdom you share here.

    I am stopping by from “A Little R and R” today. 🙂

  2. Great advice! Thank you..

  3. My husband and I were talking about this very thing–where we can develop common interest together, just last week, Scott. We have some things we like to do together, but we both feel this needs some attention, thought and commitment, if our relationship is to grow and strengthen as our boys “leave the nest.” Thanks for sharing this over at my place. I’m always glad when I see you linked up there!

    • A common interest should breed mutual respect and curiosity, thereby helping the relationship to grow. As always, thanks for coming over and adding value to Choose to Trust.

  4. Thanks for this message. It’s a good one. My husband and I have been guilty of falling into the trap of letting our lives and relationship revolve around our kids. Thankfully, we realized that we needed to focus on us and our relationship before it was too late. We now focus on developing a solid relationship built on Christ. And we know that benefits our whole family.

    • The irony is that you get what you ultimately want for the kids by NOT making them the relational focus. Thanks for dropping by.

  5. Wow! Powerful post! An issue I often struggled with, and am sure I made my share of mistakes. Thank God for His grace, His parenting that takes over where we have goofed, and His perseverance in pursuing us and our kids all our lives!

  6. Great advice. Thank you for sharing at Whatever Wednesday on Thank You Honey! Stop by this week for our NaBloPoMo Whatever Wednesday and link up you blog! Hope to see you there!

  7. Amazing. Yes yes and YES! I was just having these exact thoughts in my head the other day. Me and my husband and burnt out and even though we don’t have a lot of money right now, we decided to take a mini vacation…just the 2 of us. Because when we start to forget why we fell in love, it is time for us to reconnect. I think that couples think if they are good enough parents, it doesn’t matter how their relationship is underneath it all. I don’t believe that. I don’t think I can be the best parent I can be unless and my husband are a loving cohesive unit. Thank you for this wonderful post and for visiting Family Fridays!!!

  8. Thanks so much for sharing! I’m also part of The Thankful Project this November and would love to read more of your work as the month progresses!

    You can check out my blog at elliecoburn.com if you’d like! Wishing you all the best!!


  9. Thanks for joining 4 Seasons Blog Hop. As an Asian, our parents have committed almost their whole life for their kids. Not only their kids, they believed that they have to work and save adequate for the sons and grandsons. They have never enjoyed themselves though financially they can support themselves or going round the world for numerous time. But they think that what will happen if their sons needs this money, shall they keep some monies for the marriage ceremony of their grandsons or daughters…… It is good that over the years, this self sacrifice concept has gradually changed… But it is still deeply rooted in the current generations like me! Thanks for “warning” and sharing. Pin in Group’s board!

  10. This is such wonderful advice worth sharing. I have always heard that a couple’s marriage is the first thing that teaches kids what types of relationships they are suppose to have in life. I didn’t have a very good marriage role model growing up, and my husband and I are trying our best to be a good example for our kids. Our kids know our marriage comes first ahead of them. We do everything in our power to stay connected, but yet have our own interests too.

  11. YES. this is so good. we need to keep the friendship alive, for when the kids leave home… but also, for while they’re still there, to exemplify a beautiful, holistic, holy union. thank you for speaking up! and for sharing with #imperfectprose. bless you, e.

  12. Thanks for this reminder. At this present season of our lives, much of my time and my hubby’s revolves around the children. It’s challenging to carve out time for just the two of us. Most days I simply just want to crawl into bed right after the kids have gone down for the night. But I’ll keep this point in mind and be mindful to maintain little connections with my hubby to keep our glue together!

  13. This is why I think date nights are important and sending the kids to bed at a decent hour.

  14. Thank you for sharing at our TGIF Link Party at A Peek Into My Paradise. I hope you will be back to link up another awesome post this week!
    Cathy @ http://apeekintomyparadise.blogspot.com/

  15. This is definitely my marriage…my husband does next to nothing for our teenage son, and has been so selfish and just a basted that I resent him. I stay for my son and consider my marriage a marriage of convenience, until my son leaves for school in about 3 yrs. then I will be really miserable…I will probably just go back to focusing on me. I regret marrying my husband, but I’m older now so what can I do?


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