As a pastor, I love hearing young couples approach me and say something to effect of, "We're thinking about starting a family." Most are sharing their excitement about trying to have kids. While I understand what they're communicating, it leads me to remind them that it's not kids that make a family but rather when a man and woman covenant together to become a husband and a wife.
A family starts when God leads a man and a woman to commit their lives to each other in holy matrimony. This is a holy covenant they make before God, family, and friends. This covenant is not about their happiness, but their holiness. The couple leave their current families thereby creating a new one (Gen. 2:24, Matt. 19:5, Eph. 5:31). It's in the "two becoming one" that at a new family is formed.
I remind couples of this truth all the time in pre-marital counseling as well as the couples who are adding to their family, and I give them another encouragement as well. I encourage them to be intentional about practicing family worship--the disciplines of prayer and Bible study together. If they can establish these habits early and consistently, it will already be in place when kids arrive. Of course, family worship looks different when kids are in the mix, but the pattern will already be there.
Since our immediate family is the first ministry calling of married believers, it's important to figure this out as early as possible. But there is still hope for those who are new to practicing spiritual disciplines together as a couple. It's never too late to start. Family discipleship doesn't have a critical start date. All it requires is simple faithfulness to God and his Word.
If you're a newlywed, share below what has helped you make prayer and Bible study a priority early in your marriage.