I (Patrick) can’t say that I hadn’t been warned about what marriage and parenting would require. I remember sitting in a Chicago park with my mentor while attending Moody Bible Institute. It was Sunday night, and we were meeting to talk about relationships. I don’t recall most of what he said that night. However, one phrase has stuck with me: “Marriage is not 50/50. A Christian marriage is 100/100. You put in 100 percent and your wife puts in 100 percent. This is how Christ loved the church. He didn’t just put in fifty percent.”
Thanks a lot. This was not the positive, encouraging relationship talk I was looking for. But he was right. I have since discovered that it is physically impossible to remove a defiled onesie from a newborn and refill a sippy cup while dodging Nerf arrows without some assistance. As our family began to grow, it became obvious that one person could not realistically be expected to keep up on all of the housework, laundry, cooking, and child-rearing. As a guy, I needed the 100 percent reminder more than Ruth did. We can be a little slow to pick up on all of the “hints” for more help from our spouses.
While Patrick may have been slow to the game, that isn’t the case anymore. Thankfully! I (Ruth)can’t imagine what it would be like if Patrick and I didn’t parent together wholeheartedly. The role change from being a spouse to becoming a parent brings a huge change in responsibilities. Suddenly we are doing more dishes and more laundry. We are changing diapers, feeding children, and giving baths—lots of them. When our kids get older, we are juggling schedules, schoolwork, and extracurricular activities. We both need each other to give 100 percent just to make it through the tasks each day brings.
Even more importantly, our roles as parents aren’t just about the work that needs to be done to live life. In order to fulfill our God-given mission as parents, it is our job to train our kids to be good citizens of earth and heaven, to nurture their God-given talents, and to train them in godliness. The Bible makes it very clear that both mom and dad are to be actively involved in teaching, shaping, and caring for their children. Consider the following passages of Scripture:
- Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you. (Exodus 20:12)
- My son, keep your father’s command and do not forsake your mother’s teaching (Proverbs 6:20)
- Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4)
- Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged (Colossians 3:21)
- I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you (2 Timothy 1:5; see also 2 Timothy 3:15)
Each of these verses reminds us that it is not one parent who is nurturing and shepherding children. It is a team effort. The Bible doesn’t prescribe every detail about who should do what when it comes to marriage or parenting. There is a lot of room for deciding the best way to live life as a married couple with a family. As a result, every spouse must give 100 percent to the other as they work together to determine how to best accomplish the demands of family life.
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