While children are one of God’s greatest gifts, a subtle yet dangerous trap is for parental demands to hinder marital unity.  In every stage of parenting, the demands are significant.  The amount of care, attention, affection, time, and resources that the tiniest members of your family require can be stifling.

If not careful, a blessing from the marriage will take priority over the marriage.

After you have experienced the first sleepless night of parenting, your entire world changes.  To be an intentional parent will cause you to invest a significant amount of physical and emotional reserves.  Through all stages of parenting, you can feel as if you are a maid, policeman, chauffeur, counselor, short-order chef, mentor, and so much more.

Many marriages end in divorce once the nest is empty.  After the last child leaves home and begins the journey into independence, many couples who appeared to have it altogether call it quits all of a sudden.  In reality, these marriages have been on a steady drift for at least eighteen years.

If the child becomes the sole shared experience within a marriage, the marriage will be over once that child leaves home.

When spouses become business partners, the marriage is in trouble.  The dad gives any remaining time in the day to the children.  The mom pours all she has into covering the needs and wants of the children’s lives.  Along the way, they lose sight of one another.  These two parents circle around each other as co-workers who don’t know how to exist when the client is gone.

You must find balance.  You must find room to nurture your children after you have cherished your spouse.  While the parent/child relationship is unparalleled in relationships, there is only one person you are called to be one with: your spouse.  I remind my children often, “We were together before you got here, and we are going to still be together once you are gone.”  While your relationship of parent never changes, your role will change with your child.  Contrastingly, your marriage should never have a graduation period.

One litmus tests to reveal the danger in your home is to ask the question: Did I feel more like a spouse or a parent today?  If you feel like the role of parent dwarfed the role of spouse, you need to make changes.  I understand your child has needs and you want to show him or her your love.

One of the greatest ways you can love your child is by prioritizing your spouse.

As you lovingly teach your children that your spouse comes first, you are modeling healthy marriage for them, maintaining emotional security for them, and maturing your own marriage before them.  Never neglect the task of shepherding your children in the ways of the Lord (Prov. 22:6; Eph. 6:4), but never forget that one of the main ways you can do that is by loving their other parent.

Travis Agnew is a Christian, husband, father, pastor, author, blogger, and religion instructor.