Why You Should Put Your Spouse Before Your Kids
Should you put your kids before your spouse or partner? A relationship or marriage is a lot of hard work on its own. Add kids to the mix and the difficulty level can be off the charts. Kids take up so much of your time that it’s easy to neglect one another and yourselves. Not taking care of you and your spouse first can have detrimental effects on the entire family.
I came from a broken home but we had lots of family time (with mom and dad). My parents did their best to shield us from a tough situation. We were kept away from their relationship (before and after their divorce). They always spoke very highly of one another and got along really well when we were all together.
My dad was a pretty amazing guy. He was a no-nonsense, loving dad. He was the hardest working, most humble man I’ve ever known.
I grew up with my mom and she is nothing short of inspiring. She’s the strongest woman I know. She sacrificed a lot and always put us first. We were her world and she ensured (and still ensures) that we knew it. In every way, she was our world. I look up to her, admire, and respect her. She embodied the type of mom and parenting style I always knew I wanted to have when I had kids.
So, naturally, when we had our first baby, he became my everything – my heart, my soul, the reason I lived….everything. He came first and I made no secret of it and no apologies.
My husband came from a home with a marriage. I always assumed that he came first to them, even though his experiences were different from mine.
A few times since our first son was born he communicated that he felt neglected by me and that we should come first with each other. I literally scoffed at him.
Was he a mad man? To think that I would put him above my kids – what kind of selfish mother did he want me to be?
I didn’t completely disregard his feelings though, I tried my hardest to prioritize his needs but he always came second to our son and as we had more kids, he just kind of drifted down the ladder.
But when we’re giving our everything to our kids, what are we leaving for our spouse?
After having a couple of meltdowns with him, I was forced into seeing the sense of his approach – when we aren’t in a good place – our kids aren’t in the best place. The same kids that I put first.
I finally realized (thankfully not too late) that to ensure they get the best – we have to ensure that we were at our best.
The best thing my husband and I can do for our kids is to have a strong, healthy marriage and family environment. My mom (and single parents) do the best that they can in their situation. I was modeling my mom’s parenting style (single mom) in a completely different situation (a marriage).
Why It’s A Good Thing To Put Your Spouse First
We eventually had a long conversation about the importance of putting one another first and my mind was honestly a little blown with the potential benefits:
You are your kids’ role models
They mimic everything they see you do. They are going to learn what a relationship looks like first hand from you. Don’t show them what you don’t want for them. Show them that the longevity of a happy marriage is more likely when you keep choosing each other and putting one another first.
Teach them how teamwork makes the dream work
Show them how:
- strong you are together.
- much you achieve as a united front.
- you help one another and support one another.
- to use each other’s strengths and weaknesses to your advantage.
Teach them how to disagree and work it out
In my opinion, teaching kids how to handle disagreements is one of the most important lessons. Conflict resolution is a skill they can use throughout their lives. Allowing them to see first hand how it’s done in an effective and healthy manner will ensure that they are well equipped for when it arises in their lives. Teach them by example.
It makes them feel loved and secured
Putting our spouse first surrounds kids with love and warm fuzzy feelings. As corny as it sounds, your marriage exudes love and is infectious. They learn to treat each other with kindness. They want to be like us, so they sort out their quarrels among themselves in a different way. My younger son is hot-tempered. He may shout at his brother but in the end, he’s the one running him down (literally) to hug and kiss him to make up.
They aren’t the center of the universe and others matter a lot
Teaching kids that they are the center of your universe can be dangerous – they will enter the “real world” and not have the proper coping mechanisms when others don’t treat them that way.
Tackle kids’ needs together. As a united front, put them first. Your spouse comes first to you and your kids come first to you and your spouse as a team.
Just us – in the end
When the kids are grown, it’s just going to be us. We want to ensure that the spark is kept going so we can continue enjoying one another. Keeping the romance alive by putting your spouse first is critical to a long-lasting relationship.
Everyone wants to feel loved and important to someone else. Even the most self sufficient people. Wanting to be cared for by someone else doesn’t mean that you love yourself any less. Being loved and cared for is one of our basic human needs.
How To Put Your Partner First And Stay Connected
So, how can we show our spouse that we care and put them first? These are 10 ways that have done and continue to do wonders for our marriage. We still struggle, of course (who doesn’t) but for the most part we really put in the effort and we feel somewhat closer than we did before we had kids. I say somewhat because naturally, there IS going to be less time for one another.
Be attentive to your spouse’s needs and wants.
Show appreciation for all the things your spouse does
When you have kids, it’s incredibly easy to neglect other things in life. They demand so much of your time and energy. Parenting doesn’t have to feel like a duty or a series of expectations from our spouse. A very simple show of gratitude goes such a long way to let your partner know how much you appreciate their efforts.
Respect one another
Respect starts from within. When we respect ourselves, it comes naturally to respect others. Have a high regard for yourself and for your spouse’s feelings and wishes.
As Aretha Franklyn sang, find out what it means to your spouse and let your spouse know what it means to you.
Communicate honestly and openly
Ensure that healthy communication continues as our needs change as we grow. Being open and letting your spouse know, helps to adjust our approach with each other. This is also so critical when something isn’t right – it helps either party to reach out easier.
Handle misunderstandings as soon as possible – so that it doesn’t snowball
Letting things fester is the correct formula for resentment. Nipping disagreements and misunderstanding in the bud fosters a good foundation for handling conflict.
Don’t sweat the small stuff
Life happens! We all make mistakes and things definitely don’t always go according to plans. Learning the distinction between a small issue and a larger one is critical here. Forgetting to clear a glass one day isn’t that big of a deal but never clearing or cleaning up after yourself is a problem that needs attention.
Apologize and own your mistake
Sincerely apologizing to your spouse reassures them that you are aware of your mistake, you own it and you’re not proud of it. It tells them that you’ve understood how your action hurt them or impacted negatively on them and that it wasn’t your intention. It brings hope and assurance that it’s unlikely to reoccur.
I’ve learned recently that forgiveness starts with forgiving yourself. I’ve been easy to forgive others but I’ve never taken the time to truly forgive myself.
True forgiveness means that you’ve put it to rest and you’re giving your spouse or yourself a fair chance.
When we bring up past behavior or hurt when your spouse is trying to adjust or make up for a mistake, it is so harmful to progress. Allow one another to work through the issue and the hurt (as individuals and together), forgive and then together make the decision to move on.
Prioritize one on one time!
It’s hectic with kids and easier to just use the excuse of being tired. I say excuse because I’m a believer in “where there’s a will, there’s a way”.
For instance – put the kids to bed earlier, hire a baby sitter, plan a date at home, once they are only enough, let the kids play in their rooms so that you can have a movie morning or evening.
Let the kids grow up knowing that at particular times, it’s mom and dad’s time (similar to when it’s kids and family time).
Put down the phone!
I know this is a tough one in the age that we live in – but it’s incredibly important. If I had a penny for every couple I’ve come across who feels neglected due to the partner’s screen time, I’d have financial freedom.
When you’re intentionally putting your partner first, there’s no instant message that is more important. If something does come up, then be considerate enough to let your spouse know what’s going on – this removes or minimizes any possible feelings of neglect. Make it a habit to put down your phone when you are around your spouse and kids.
What’s your take on who should come first? Your spouse or your kids? I’d really like to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.