One of the best things a father can do for his kids is love their mother and build a strong marriage. The effort you put into your marriage is worth it to your children. To prove that, I'm going right to the source. Just listen to this sixth grade girl who wrote about her father for one of our essay contests. She writes:
Everybody in my family has had to put up a lot with all the things that have gone wrong. One thing about this divorce is that when I go over to my friends' house to spend the night or something, their fathers usually come in and say, "good-night," not "good-bye." When my father comes over to get something and he is about to leave, he always comes over and kisses me on the cheek and then says "good-bye," and walks out. And it hurts a lot. Sometimes I want to just cry. I wish this never happened. . .
This girl feels the pain so deeply that she is tuned in to subtle nuances like the difference between "good-night" and "good-bye." Her father may see her regularly and show her physical affection, but still the dominant images of her father will always bring her pain.
Compare that to what another youngster, a fourth grader, wrote in her essay: "He treats my mom very nicely, which makes me feel wanted."
A strong marriage breeds security. The child with two parents who are still in love—and show it—does not need to fear that the foundation of her life is suddenly going to shake and buckle and split apart.
Even more than that, your marriage relationship is a model for your children's future relationships—dating and marriage.
Your sons are taking subconscious notes. They're asking: What does it mean to be a husband? How should I treat women? Your daughters also have their eye on you. Giving themselves to a man in marriage can be a fearful thing; they're asking themselves how well their mother fared in the deal.
One of the greatest legacies you can leave your children (and your yet-unborn grandchildren) is the firm believe that marriage is not to be taken lightly. It's worth committing to. It's worth sticking it out through the tough times. Your marriage is worth every ounce of effort you can put into it.