by JAVIER & SHANNAN LABRADOR, The Marriage Flippers- 24/7 Marriage
Your marriage will impact generations. What story will be told? What legacy will be left?
It was dark, and I was not sure where the small little voice came from as I stood in the kitchen giving my wife a hug- “I see you!” I looked towards the staircase only to see this mop of curly brown hair poking around the corner, and before I could say a word, my sweet little girl, with drawn-out words and joy in her voice, said again- “I seeeee youuuuu!” As I moved towards her, she ran up the stairs wanting to be chased by Dad. As I tucked her back into bed, I was struck by the simplicity of her words and the profound implications-she was watching. She was a witness to her parent’s commitment and love and internalizing the significance of loyalty, dedication, and sacrifice.
OK-maybe she was not thinking any of that; she just saw us hugging one another and wanted me to chase her back upstairs. My wife says I am always looking for deep meaning in everything, guilty! Yet, have you ever stopped to think about the impact of your marriage on future generations, especially your children and grandchildren? They are watching whether we see it or not. Whether we are together or now separated, our marriages will have a ripple effect that extends beyond our own lives.
Through our years of working with couples and also sitting with them before they walk down the aisle, we have seen one common thread weave through every story-how their parent’s marriage and relationships have shaped their view of marriage. Family of origin and the picture painted for our children will have a generational impact and be carried on. What is the picture your marriage is painting or has? What story will unfold before your children, family, and friends? Together, let’s look at the significance of marriage and how it influences future generations:
Foundation of Family.
If we desire to live and leave a legacy, it will start with the foundation of family, the bedrock of our society. Marriage forms the foundation of the family unit, providing stability, love, and guidance for children. Our children will grow up in the environments we create. They’ll witness our love, conflicts, and how we navigate the highs and lows of life together. By providing stability, love, and a picture of marriage where your spouse comes first, we are laying the foundation for our children to build upon. Not a perfect foundation, but one where they see us fight for one another in the good and not-so-good times.
You may be reading this, and you and your children have experienced the pain of divorce, and it breaks our hearts to know this is the reality of many. Please know, even through a divorce and brokenness, you still have the opportunity to invest in and re-establish in the hearts of your children what a marriage can be. Yet remember, they are watching how you walk through a separation or divorce. Are you belittling your spouse-their father or mother? Are you being open with them about what’s taking place? Protect and nurture their hearts.
Living in a covenant of marriage is not always easy! My wife says I’m pretty perfect and don’t need to change a thing- NOT! Left to my own, there is no way I would be able to be the man I am called to be for her. I have to rely on God’s grace, develop sacrificial love, and cultivate forgiveness. The challenges we have faced, and the joys we have experienced have grown and shaped us. And guess what? Our children are watching. They see how we rely on God’s grace and how our faith influences our actions. Faith, or the lack of will affect future generations. How is your faith shaping your marriage and children?
Values and Morals.
I love hiking and backpacking, and one of the most important tools I need when “getting lost on purpose” is a compass. The compass serves as my guide, leading me on the right path forward. In marriage, we GET to demonstrate qualities such as love, integrity, and selflessness. These virtues become the compass shaping the values that children inherit. When they see us living these qualities, they learn what it means to be a person of character. As children see their parents live a life that honors one another and God, they are more likely to embrace those principles as they navigate their own lives and relationships.
Healthy Role Models.
My wife and I have been married for 30 years, and I have always strived to be a healthy role model to our two girls. I have worked to display to my girls that they should settle for nothing less than a man that would treat them the way I treated their mom- with honor, respect, love, grace, and self-sacrifice. My children today look up to us. How they view us was not because we have a perfect marriage, the opposite is true. They watched as we navigated the difficult seasons and how we worked it out. They watched as we experienced the highs and celebrated together. Through every season, they watched as we attempted always to demonstrate what it meant to serve one another and build a healthy marriage.
Yes, your marriage has a generational impact and holds immense significance by providing the foundation for which your children will build their own family, spiritual growth, values, and legacy. Let’s strive to build a marriage that demonstrates to our children and those around us what it means to live a beautiful life that reflects grace, love, forgiveness, and hope. So the next time you are standing with your spouse embracing one another, look around the corner and maybe you will see a moppy head child standing there staring at you and with great joy saying, “I seeeee youuuuu!”