This past week, my daughter Lexi somehow discovered “The Brady Bunch” on YouTube. She’s become quite addicted really and so have we all — it’s wonderfully clean, wholesome, and refreshing entertainment compared to what is so often dished out by Hollywood today.
Watching the Bradys is like a time warp to my childhood — in fact, I was about my girls’ age when I used to watch it every day after school. (I admit, I crushed on Marcia.) It’s been a delight to revisit these shows, laughing with my girls and talking about the relative simplicity of life in the 70s.
One thing that stands out about the Bradys is the level of affection shown by Mike and Carol. It’s obvious that they are in love, nuzzling and flirting all the time — even in front of the kids. But nobody blushes — in fact the kids relish their parents’ mutual delight nearly as much as Mike and Carol do. It’s almost as if the affection of their parents adds to the well-being and security of their home.
Which is exactly the point I wish to make.
Today, we live in a world where marriage is breaking down before our eyes. We might blame the gays or the liberals or the government for the legal redefinition of marriage, but I think that perhaps our greatest obstacle is the definition of marriage which the kids are subtly being taught every day.
Think of the messages they get from television and movies: sensual delight is found primarily outside of marriage and marriage will limit your options — almost like going to prison. Married people have to “settle down” and stop having fun. Bachelor parties have become like the Mardi Gras before the dreaded season of Lent. No wonder kids today don’t value marriage!
I believe that Christian parents can add to the problem. Do we who are married show our kids that marriage is a delight or do they see it as more of a contractual arrangement where the parents simply co-exist?
Why do we withhold the public display of affection to our spouses? I can think of three reasons.
First. Is it in hopes that our kids won’t think about sex? Too late, they already do! God has given them massive amounts of hormones and they’re trying to figure out what they’re for. We’ve got to show them that the proper context for drives, affections and sensuality is in marriage — otherwise they’ll begin to seek the fulfillment of these things in all the wrong places.
Second. Is it because showing affection is out of our comfort zone? I realize that your background, personality, circumstances etc. affect your comfortability with showing affection, but I suggest that nevertheless it must be shown. It may take getting used to and you may observe some eye-rolling at first, but it will impact your family for the better. My kids have gotten used to us snuggling on the couch; they see us holding hands; they catch my cheesy pick up lines some nights before bedtime; and they hear me tease about wanting a “transparent shower curtain” for my birthday. They chide me for this last one of course, but through it all they learn that their parents’ love is secure, which makes the whole family feel secure. And in the process, they learn what marriage is meant to be, hopefully wanting that for themselves one day.
Third. Is it because we honestly don’t have any affection for our spouse? If this is the case then the best thing you can do for your kids is sprint directly into marriage counseling. Affection isn’t negotiable. It’s not the icing on the cake of marriage it is the cake itself. Marriage is ALL about the quality of the relationship. As far as it depends on you, do whatever is possible to get help with your marriage. I would be glad to chat with any of you about how to get help in this area.
Guilt. Lastly, I fear some of you will read this and simply feel guilty because you’re not able to model a healthy, affectionate marriage to your kids. Perhaps you’re a single parent or you’re stuck in a marriage where — due to circumstances beyond your control — affection is simply not going to be a reality. I want you to know that God is big enough to overcome your situation! He’s so good at working in spite of us. Trust Him. Perhaps your kids will see healthy marriages modeled in the lives of youth sponsors and learn from them. (That’s why I require my youth sponsor couples to show PDA in youth group.) Perhaps your unfortunate situation will be used positively to give your kids a thirst for what you yourself long for. God’s not limited by anything. Trust Him.
And for some of you perhaps the first step would be to watch a couple episodes of the Brady Bunch!