Marriage Builder: Child-centered or couple-centered?

Sep 28, 2007 at 9:29 p.m. ET

Is your marriage couple-centered or child-centered? Being a parent in today's world is an awesome responsibility. It requires all the skills we can come up with. But building a successful marriage also requires on-the-job skill training. In this column, marriage experts Claudia and David Arp -- founders of Marriage Alive! -- share how you can put your kids first by putting your marriage first.

Balancing and foundations
We know good marriages don't just happen. They demand an investment of time and energy. While the need to balance the partner role with the parent role is critical, remember that the foundation for the parenting role is a strong marriage partnership. And remember, your partner will be there long after your children leave the nest!

What really matters to kids
A child's most basic security is to know that his or her parents love each other. Each child unconsciously desires to be a part of a strong, loving relationship and to know he or she will never be abandoned.

Our friends, Alicia and Ben, were planning a getaway when their son, Christian, remarked that it just wasn't fair for them to go the beach without him. Our clever friends told their son that actually they were going away for "his own good." We're not sure they convinced him, but we see their point. When they returned Christian had parents who were much more relaxed and more in love with each other. He naturally benefited.

Your greatest gift
Do your children know that their parents really love each other? One of the greatest things you can do for your child is to love your spouse and let your child know it! So being a great partner will help you be a great parent!