My friends who have made it to twenty-plus years of marriage tell me that when their children were toddlers and/or preschool age there were plenty of times when they almost gave up on their marriages. I recently read a survey done by Parenting magazine that indicated basically the same thing: couples who made it to the empty nest cited the time when their children were very young as the most stressful time in their marriage.

Apparently, this phenomenon is well documented among the body of research in family sociology. My curiosity led me to website after website that made frequent references to the "decrease in marital satisfaction during childrearing years". The good news? As equally well documented is the increase in marital satisfaction after the kids have all left home. Can we make it that long? Apparently 5.2 per 1000 pop. in West Virginia cannot.

Ask God for Protection During the Vulnerable Years

As Christians, we should prepare for spiritual warfare with regards to our marriages. Make it a priority to read scripture with your spouse that builds up your relationship. Pray together on a regular basis! I believe it was C.S. Lewis who posed the question, "Have you ever tried to stay angry at someone while praying with them?" And pray for your marriage. Never underestimate the importance of praying for a lasting relationship with your spouse.

If you have young children in your home, take heart! Things can only get better. As one who is finally emerging from those years of comas induced by attending to the needs of my offspring, I must say: rediscovering the person you married can be a joy!

Better yet, try not to lose that connection from the beginning. Make your spouse a priority in your life. If you find yourself bored or too exhausted to care, this is the time you need to make the most effort. You have the power to change some things about your relationship. Marriages need to be nurtured. They need to be treasured. They need to be fiercely protected. Just as God protects and nurtures us.

It is from their observations of our relationships that our children form the basis of their own relationship with God. They learn about true commitment from us. They learn about faith and strength in adversity. No relationship is perfect, but the lessons we learn as we work through life's challenges make us who we are.

Statistics show that enduring marriages are the minority now. Of all the things we give our children in the name of doing what is in their best interest...isn't staying married to their other parent pretty important?