When I speak on marriage, I'm always asked if I intentionally taught my kids about marriage.
The answer is yes ... and, no.
Yes, there are times when we've talked specifically about marriage (either ours or ones that our kids have observed). But, for the most part, my wife Cathy and I have been wise enough to know that our kids are constantly watching and learning from us. Our actions (both good and bad) are always teaching them about marriage.
I would be thrilled if my kids had a similar type of marriage that Cathy and I share ... it's definitely not perfect, but we're both very proud of what we've developed over 30 years.
Here are 10 actions that I know my kids have observed from us over the year
Cathy and I are very affectionate and I like having my kids see me holding their mom's hand, hugging, kissing, cuddling, etc., as often as I can.
2. Saying "I'm sorry."
I want to be quick to use this phrase and I want my kids to hear me say it (and I have to say it a lot more than Cathy).
This is my primary love language so it's easy for me to dish out encouraging words. My kids get a lot of verbal affirmation, but they also hear me directing it toward my wife (which is really easy).
I think Cathy is hot ... and, I make it known around our family. I'll regularly say, "Isn't your mom beautiful?"
Our kids know that we like to spend time together. When they see us steal time away to sit in the backyard and talk, or go in the hot tub, or go on a date night, or sneak away for the weekend ... that's a good message I want them to see.
We laugh a lot in our house and my wife's cute sense of humor cracks me up. I like having my kids see that my wife makes me laugh.
Opening the door for Cathy, saying "thank you" and "please" and showing her simple signs of respect.
8. Faith conversations
We're not always praying in front of our kids, but they hear and see our faith conversations and know that we're always talking about Jesus and what it means to be a follower.
Our house is well worn from the traffic of friends in/out of our house. We love having people over and the Fields' house is a regular hangout for some incredible friends.
I know my kids have had a better example in Cathy than with me because she's the ultimate servant. Always asking, "How can I help? What do you need to make life better?" Serving one another is seen in the daily, little things and there's many opportunities to serve.
Kids are always watching their parent's marriage and yet too many marriages underestimate the power of modeling! Children are taking daily recordings of what a marriage looks like and those recordings are definitely influencing and shaping their view of marriage.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on Doug Fields' website. It has been republished here with permission.
Doug Fields is a communicator, author, & consultant. He is the Executive Director of HomeWord’s Center for Youth/Family at Azusa Pacific University, the co-founder of Downloadyouthministry.com, and the author of more than 50 books.