We can strengthen our families, communities, and nations and bring blessings into the lives of our children by improving our marriages. As adults, we tend to think that we can protect our children from knowing we are struggling in our marriages, but we cannot. Children are very sensitive to the atmosphere in the home and can discern when a marriage is struggling even though the parents attempt to settle their differences behind closed doors.
Lori Cluff Schade, a licensed marriage and family therapist, shared her thoughts about this subject in an article entitled “Blessing Our Children by Improving Our Marriages” (Ensign, September 2015, pp. 34-39). She stated that she sees many families where the parents try really hard to do all the right things to bless their children but do little to strengthen their marriages. “As couples become more aware of the powerful influence their marriages have on their children, it becomes clear just how far-reaching the benefits can be when couples actively seek to nourish and strengthen their marriages.”
The author continued, “I believe most Latter-day Saint couples want their marriages to succeed, and I’m impressed with the levels of marital commitment most of them display….
“However, I sometimes encounter marriages that offer more stability than quality. Some couples mistakenly think that if they
Refrain from arguing in front of their children, their children will be unaware of the disconnection in the marriage. Children are extremely intuitive and usually have a sense that something isn’t going well, which can lead to deep feelings of insecurity. Absence of conflict in a marriage is a cheap substitute for secure connection.
“Research on marital quality and children suggests that a high-quality marriage promotes a sense of emotional security, enhancing children’s general well-being. In my clinical practice, I am a witness to the reality that children are deeply affected by parents’ marital quality. This principle is reflected in the words of President Spencer W. Kimball (1895-1985): `Marriage … has to do not only with immediate happiness, but also with eternal joy. It affects not only the two people involved, but also their families and particularly their children and their children’s children down through the many generations.’ I often explain to people that they aren’t just creating their own marriages but in essence their children’s and grandchildren’s marriages as well.”
Sister Schade made the following suggestions for improving the quality of our marriages: (1) Articulate and share what you want your marriage to look like in 5, 10, or 20 years; (2) Write down and share a positive memory in the marriage; (3) Share a memory of a time that you were able to overcome a challenge together; (4) Create small but meaningful rituals for when you part and come together again;
(5) Introduce an element of novelty into your dating; (6) Tell your children regularly what you admire about your spouse; (7) Actively seek uplifting marital improvement resources; (8) Ask each other regularly if you are more or less connected as a couple than before and discuss what you can to do to bridge the gap; (9) Counsel with your bishop to access professional resources if necessary; (10) Pray for help in strengthening the love you feel for your spouse.
Sister Schade assured her readers that “Heavenly Father wants us to have excellent marriages of the highest quality and that He will guide us in our effort to improve those relationships for the benefit of our families. Happy marriages supply profound blessings for us and for our children.”
President Howard W. Hunter (1907-95) declared that “whatever Jesus lays his hands upon lives. If Jesus lays his hands upon a marriage, it lives. If he is allowed to lay his hands on the family, it lives.” I know that we can bring more security and many blessings to ourselves and our children by improving our marriages and thus strengthen our families, communities, and nations.