Which Comes First: Your Marriage, or Your Kids?

The following is a guest post from Stacie Mahoe. Stacie is a blogger and mom of 7. We met several years ago through our membership in SoloMasterminds, a community of online business women.

In this article she shares her view on keeping your marriage healthy in the midst of raising a family. How do you balance the needs of your kids with that of your mate?

Do You Put Your Kids First?

The other day I was talking with some other parents. One of of the guys in the group was a dad whose youngest son just left for college. He and his wife were beginning their adjustment to life without kids in the house.

Somehow the conversation turned to spouses vs kids. Which is more important and who comes first?This dad brought up a question he heard on a radio show once, “If you woke up one night and your house was on fire, who do you save first? Your spouse or your kids?”

Well, most people in the conversation said they would save their kids first, and for very good reasons. One person pointed out that, our children hadn’t had a chance to live their lives yet. Many agreed they wanted to their kids to get that chance. They’d save their kids then go back for their spouse.

Another parent mentioned that, if the tables were turned, they hoped their spouse would save the kids first. Since they would want their spouse to save the kids before coming for them, that’s the choice they’d make also.

I honestly don’t know what I would do and I hope I never find out!

I admit, I used to put my children above all else. After all, as infants they’re helpless. They need you to do everything for them. My husband? Well, he’s a full grown adult that can take care of himself. I figured kids obviously need me more than he does, right?

As far as basic survival, that may be true. Your husband can take care of his own basic needs for survival and your kids DO need your help more than he does in that area.

I understand that. I get that. Your kids need you. They can’t survive without you. At least not as well as if you’re there for them.

But guess what?

Neither can your marriage.

Marriages, like children, don’t thrive when ignored. While your husband may be able to take care of himself and “survive” on his own, your marriage won’t. Your marriage needs your attention and care just as much as your kids do.

Plus, what message are you sending your kids about relationships and marriage if you completely ignore yours? If your spouse is always second? What expectation are you setting for them as far as how THEY should be treated in a relationship?

Yes, your children are important. Yes, they are your responsibility and a huge part of your life, but your spouse is your partner, your other (and maybe even better) half!

When you take care of yourself, your relationship, your marriage, and your spouse, taking care of the kids gets a LOT easier. I know you want to be the BEST parent you can for your children. I promise you, that’s SO much easier to do when you have a loving partner helping you through it all vs a “roommate” you’re always at odds with.

Not to mention, after your kids are grown, gone, and living their own lives, they won’t really “need” you anymore.

As much as you love them, they WILL leave your home one day if you did your job right (which is why you pay so much attention to them in the first place). Then who will be left? What will be left?

I know I don’t want to wake up one day after the kids are gone and find myself in a marriage that’s been ignored for the past 18+ years. Just something to think about. :)

Guest post written by Stacie Mahoe, mom of 7, living and loving and active family life in Hawaii while married to her high school sweetheart. She shares her no nonsense mom tips at CrazyMomLife.com

What do you think? Have you found it challenging to balance the needs of young children with the needs of your marriage? What tips can you share?

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3 Responses to Which Comes First: Your Marriage, or Your Kids?

  1. As a school teacher, I see the consequences of broken marriages every day. Because I teach at a religious school where most of the kids are lucky enough to have parents who make their spouses a priority, the kids who go home to unhealthy relationships or a single, divorced parents stand out as less social, less motivated, and less happy. The evidence in front of me seems to say putting my marriage first IS putting my children first.

    My sixteen-month-old son’s material needs come first, but my husband is the most important part of my life.

  2. Danielle says:

    I wish I had more balance in this area! I can’t seem to find to time and energy for all of it, and husband is always the last on the list. I know it’s wrong, but I’m not sure how to fix it.

  3. carrie says:

    @Alison – that’s a good point. The children suffer so much when the marriage implodes, and the marriage both predates and hopefully supercedes the kids!

    @Danielle – I understand! I don’t think we should view our kids and spouses as being in competition. Studies have shown that it really is the little things that keep a marriage together – the smile and hug and warm greeting when he comes home from work, refilling his coffee, picking up on each other’s “bids” for attention, hugging and holding hands (even when you both fall into bed too exhausted for much more!). Avoiding fights and what John Gottman calls the “4 horsemen of the apocalypse” are super important too. Those things go a long way.

    I also try to set boundaries with my kids to create a safe space around my marriage. For instance, when hubby and I are talking at the end of a day, I don’t allow them to interrupt. And there is a reason for early bedtimes! ;) They benefit from seeing that we take our marriages seriously.

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