We are in the middle of roommate mania in our house. Our daughter is headed to college in August and is in the process of choosing a roommate. Evidently, a lot has changed in the roommate selection process since I was in college. Student housing is no longer randomly assigned (Although I am pretty sure “social experiment” was the process at my school.). Instead the students are put through a matchmaking process so they know if potential roommates are a 100% match or merely a 50% match. Supposedly, this results in very happy roommates, who become friends for life.
The whole process made me wonder. How many of us are raising kids we would’t want to room with, much less marry? Sounds a little crazy, but hang with me. The husband who drives his wife crazy and constantly fights with her about dirty clothes making it into the clothes hamper is probably the same child who had clothes all over his bedroom floor as a child. The wife demanding constant expensive presents from her husband is the same little girl who always had to have the latest doll and all of her accessories.
Obviously, adults are responsible for becoming considerate, loving, godly people who make great roommates and spouses. Yet as parents, we can make the process so much easier for them and take unnecessary strain off of their relationships – roommates or marriage – in the process.
Take a moment and think about the disagreements you and your spouse have or you have heard others spouses have. How many of them actually involve bad habits? How many involve one or both parties insisting they always get to do what they want to do? How many are about one person being inconsiderate of the other’s need for rest, help, attention or support?
Want to help your child’s future marriage? Help smooth out some of those rough edges. I’m not talking military corners here, but the ability to hit a clothes hamper, boil water and run a vacuum goes a long way in a marriage. Keep a watchful eye on your child’s heart as well. Is he loving and considerate? Does she listen with her heart and not just her ears? Does he follow the second greatest command of loving others as you love yourself? Does she know how to handle conflict in a godly way? A godly heart will produce godly actions much of the time. Any marriage is better when the people involved choose their actions based on the thoughts of a godly heart.
Want to really give your child’s future marriage a great start? Teach your children what is opinion and what is non-negotiable in marriage. Which spouse takes out the trash varies from family to family and is opinion. Your child needs to understand this is an area they can and should compromise if it causes conflict. Worshipping and serving God is non-negotiable. Your children should be discouraged from missionary dating and understand the importance of their future family always serving and worshipping God. Realizing the difference between opinion and non-negotiables can eliminate much of the conflict of the early years of marriage.
Finally, teach your children to put God in the center of every relationship they ever have. God can often be the glue that holds relationships together through prayer, scriptures and following His commands. God helps us recenter our relationships and do what is necessary to make them right. God encourages us to do the work to repair broken relationships instead of immediately throwing them away.
So, do your future sons-in-law and daughters-in-law a favor and prepare your children to be great spouses. Their roommates in the meantime will also appreciate your efforts. I know the future wife of the son of one mom I know should love her forever. This mom has trained her son to take a cleaning wipe and clean around the toilet seat and floor every time he uses the restroom! You might not get the gold star that mom will one day, but you can give your kids a great start in marriage by preparing them today to be a great, godly spouse.