If only time could stand still. If only that moment could be lived forever.
Alas, it is not to be. Marriage reveals all of our flaws and foibles, magnifying our weaknesses and our vices. The curtain is pulled back.
And marriages lead to children. Parenting removes any hint of a mask, any thought of faking it we might have had. Parenting is hard. Children naturally dig and uncover the “me” that I am. They do not accept the façade. They do not settle for pretending. They scratch and claw until the coverings we have sewn together so neatly lay in tatters on the ground, and our very soul is exposed for them to touch. Children accept nothing less.
Your child will know if you love your wife or not. And your child will not be fooled by any substitute for “life-sacrificing, self-subduing, patient, devoted, never-will-I-leave-you, you mean more to me every day, I only have eyes for you, no other woman would even enter a beauty contest you enter, I am totally blessed” kind of love.
This is the kind of love God demands of husbands, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her.” (Ephesians 5:25) This love is to give of myself even unto death for the holiness and righteousness of my wife. My purpose as a husband is to love my wife in ways intended to lead toward her righteousness before God.
You can love your wife with something less, but your kids know. Do not be deceived about that. And God knows. The Christ-kind of love is not dependent upon your wife, how she behaves, what she becomes. It is dependent 100% upon me as the husband. I have to make the love choice moment by moment, asking God to strengthen me to ward off every temptation to do otherwise.
Every other pretense to love exalts me above my wife and ultimately exalts me above Christ. As a parent, my only real hope for my children is the exalted Lord and their love for Him and submission to Him. My best avenue toward that in their lives is my love for my wife flowing from my love for my Lord.
Let me restate that. My best avenue toward that in their lives is by allowing God to love my wife in me and through me. Though it is not always easy, that is the most profound parenting option available. Your children know, and they will learn from your example, father.