Building a successful marriage isn’t easy. With so many distractions in today’s world, it takes intention and dedication to keep your marriage the top focus it should be.

Arlene Pellicane says one key to making your marriage unstoppable is to prioritize the relationship with your spouse above all others–including the relationships with your children.

“It’s so foreign to us to value that marriage relationship practically, in our day’s time. We drive around the kids, pick them up, take them to school early for practice. We stay up late to help them with their homework. We’ll do all this for them, but when our spouse asks us to do something, we think, What? How could you expect me to do that? It is because that role is skewed.”

Arlene says it can be helpful to look at how much time you spend in your role as a parent compared to your role as a husband or wife.

“Typically a couple will say they spend 90% of time parenting, 10% spouse-ing, that occasional date night, etc. Ideally, what you want to shoot for is 75% of your time spouse-ing — doing things in your family as a husband and a wife–and 25% parenting.”

While it may seem counter-cultural, even abnormal to place your children second in focus to your spouse, it makes sense from a biblical perspective:

“Look at how the Bible talks about marriage. Who becomes one flesh? The husband and wife: they become one flesh to be one for life.”

“The parent doesn’t become one flesh with a child–that’s nonsense, because the child is supposed to grow up and have their own family. Yet we act many times like we are more bonded, more allegiance, more loyal, more servant-like to our kids than our spouses.”

“What if we started thinking, “My spouse is going to be the one that I’m with until the day I die. I’d better invest in that relationship”?  

Arlene says putting your kids second, and your marriage first actually strengthens the whole family.

“There’s nothing that’s going to comfort a child more than seeing that mother and father are strong, they’re in love. That child’s going to be just fine.”

Arlene Pellicane is a speaker and expert on marriage and parenting. She’s the author of five books including  , and  .

Making your marriage unstoppable