There are a lot of great pieces of advice out there for how to show your children an example of what a healthy marriage relationship looks like. One suggestion I hear a lot is to be affectionate with each other and to not be afraid of grossing your kids out (keeping it appropriate of course). Another thing that I've heard often is that children should see their parents talk through a disagreement and come out the other side having worked out their differences and come to an agreement. On a similar note, I've heard people suggest that although children should not see their parents fight and argue, they should see examples of apology and forgiveness. Something that came to me a few weeks ago was that our children also need to hear us praise each other.
The other day I walked into the kitchen where Bensen was sitting at the table with Joe. A few minutes later, Bensen said, "Dad is a big deal!" Then he and Joe gave each other knuckles. I just laughed because Joe being "a big deal" is a running joke in our household and really with anyone who knows Joe. Later I found myself wishing that instead of laughing, I had agreed with Bensen and in that moment said, "Yes, dad is a pretty big deal." Because Joe is a big deal in my eyes, and the most amazing man I've met. I married him after all, didn't I? He had to be something special to become my closest confidant and my partner in life.
In the little things, we should praise our spouse and we should let our children hear that praise. When your spouse is interacting with the kids, you could say things like, "Daddy is the most fun story reader!" or "The snacks that mommy makes are always so delicious." For older kids you could say things like, "You should ask dad to help you study for your history test, he knows all of the stories and dates better than anyone I know." or "I'm excited for our upcoming vacation! Your mom has put a lot of effort into planning this and I know it's going to be a lot of fun because she always finds the best activities!" Focus on the positive talents and traits that you notice in your spouse, and share those so your kids start to notice them as well.
And in the big things especially, we should let our children know how valuable our spouse is in our life. If your spouse gets a raise, make a point to tell your kids about it, and how proud you are of their mom/dad for working hard and how well deserved that raise is. If your children have questioned something that your spouse has chosen to do, or the way that they are parenting, support them with praise and let your kids (and your spouse) know how much you appreciate them as your partner in parenting and how much you respect the decisions they've made because you know that they have your family's best interests in mind.
Praising our spouse not only lets our children know how much we value them, but also speaks to that words of affirmation need that I believe every person has. Your children deserve to hear how highly you think of each other and your spouse deserves to hear how amazing they are. Don't just assume that they know how you feel! There are so many components to a healthy relationship and our children should see them all. We don't need to sugarcoat and share with them only the happiest moments. But they do deserve to see how much we love each other and hear all of the things that we love the most.
Photography by Sadie Banks Photography