I often think about what advice I would give my girls when they start dating and before they get married. The most popular advice that keeps coming up goes along with the popular children’s nursery rhyme called K-I-S-S-I-N-G that goes like this:
Morgan and Gaten (her current crush, I’m so glad she doesn’t read my blog, or I’d be in trouble)
Sitting in a tree
First comes love
Then comes marriage
Then comes baby In a baby carriage!
The part that I want to focus on is the order and priority of kissing, love, marriage then baby. I appreciate the order that this simple rhyme has laid out the sequence of events.
Most dating relationships start with an attraction to the person’s physical, material and personality traits. That is okay, but it’s not permanent, our physical, material and personality traits change over time, and therefore your relationship can’t last if it’s based on these attributes. Only a few people, like myself, are blessed with a wife that physically ages well!
The anti-romantic father I am, will tell my girls that love is a choice, not a feeling that comes from the heart. Sorry Merriam-Webster, love is not just an affection or attraction, love is a decision that comes from the brain and is supported by the actions you take. You might be physically attracted to a persons outward appearance or personality traits but in the end, if you want to marry someone and make it last, you have to choose to love that person every day and support that decision with your actions. Love is a commitment that takes learning, practice, failures, and intention. I read once that pre-arranged marriages have a higher percentage of people staying married than people choosing their partners. This supports that marriage is based on a factual decision, not an emotion or feeling that is fleeting. I have often provided the opportunity to my girls that I could pre-arrange their marriage but they keep passing on that option.
After you have chosen to love someone, then you can chose to seal that commitment with marriage. That is the legal binding contract of you choosing to love that person more than you love yourself, forever. Marriage is a sacred contract taken in front of God, your family, friends and the local court of law that you are committing to love your spouse, no matter what changes.
The last part of the song talks about the baby, or kids. I also wanted to highlight the importance of the ordering here. I prioritize and communicate that marriage will always comes first in our family. When I say “marriage” what I am referring to is my commitment and relationship with my wife, over my relationship with my kids. That my first priority will always be my spouse and that I will choose to love her before any other human, including my kids!!! Yes, this is a hard topic for today’s culture where kids are elevated to be the center of all families and will prioritized, which might sacrifice the marriage relationship or family unit. So in our family, my girls know that my relationship with my wife comes before anyone else. This is what that looks like in my marriage:
- Intentional and frequent date nights with my wife
- Annual anniversary trip for just me and my wife
- Making sure my wife and I are aligned first before providing direction to the kids
- Physical and emotional affection in front of my girls (they usually turn away and say gross… but that’s good for them)
What this leads to:
- Kids receiving security in our marriage, when the rest of the world is always changing
- Kids trusting that our relationship will always be there for them
- An example to our kids of how important the decision of marriage is
- Kids not turning one parent against the other
- A marriage that will stay strong after the kids leave the house
- A mom and dad that will remain stable and available for the kids their entire life
A simple, yet powerful nursery rhyme that I will be sharing with my girls in my dating and marriage conversations. I could probably write a novel on what I want to say to the boy that asks my daughter to marry him, but I will save that blog for another day.