Monday, August 22, 2011

5 Reasons my Marriage comes Before my Children

NB added 8/25/11:  Sometimes when I write, I assume that the people reading already know us and our back story.  How we are homeschooling our children because we can't bear to send them away for hours on end.  How we've never hired a babysitter because doing family activities is always way more fun than doing alone activities.  But the truth is, the internet is a big place.  Apparently people I've never met are reading this and a lot of them will just read the post and not click around further, so I apologize for not originally giving more history before my list.  I do plan on doing a follow-up post soon: 5 Simple Ways to Put your Spouse First, and I hope you'll see it has nothing to do with not caring for and loving your children.  It has to do with the marriage being the FOUNDATION upon which their happiness and security is built.  

5 reasons my marriage comes before my children

1) I am not married to my children.
See, my husband and I chose each other.  We made a plan and an agreement and a promise.  Because marriage is hard work, we had to vow, in front of all our family and friends, to put up with each others foolishness and care for one another despite any challenges that might leap out to derail our happy union train.  My first and most important promise was to him and his to me.  My children are the result of that promise.

My kids can be pretty selfish sometimes.  They can take me for granted.  They can look at everything I've done for them and find the one thing that they wish was different.  Or better.  Because they're children.  They are naturally selfish and unreasonable, which is why they need parents to guide them and feed them.  And that is also why I'm not married to them.
2) My kids want joyful parents
Despite what they might sometimes think or claim, there is no material thing or sport or event or place that would make my children happier than the feeling of having content, peaceful parents in a joy filled home.  When my husband and I put each other first, everything else in our home falls into place.

3) People spend most of their lives as adults.
Oh, mama...you and I both know that sometimes those hours, even those minutes, can seem to drag.  When your house is a wreck and you haven't bought anything but primary colored plastic objects and waterproof undergarments for years on end, it can seem like your life will always only ever be about kids and that your kids will always be taking up every ounce of your time and energy.  But it won't and they won't.  So as a responsible parent, my primary goal can't be to make sure their childhood is super fun.  My primary goal has to be that they go into the world as responsible, good, loving people.  Because we are not raising children here.  We are raising adults.  When I put my marriage first I'm showing them how to be responsible, good, loving people.

4) Kids are humans.  They have free will.
Raise your hand if you've ever met someone who had a "normal" childhood and grew up to be an unpleasant jerk.  Now raise your hand if you've ever met someone who had a dysfunctional childhood and grew up to be a happy, productive member of society.  What about the opposite of the first?  And the opposite of the second?  If you're anything like me, you raised your hand all four times.  Which means that despite what we parents would like to believe, we don't have as much control over how our kids turn out as we might hope.

As much as we WANT to raise those responsible, good, loving adults, we can only control ourselves and our choices.  Model the kind of behavior we'd like to see in our kids.  Show them how to be selfless and kind and loving.  Show them that by being so, we are happy and peaceful, thereby encouraging them to do the same when they grow up. Putting them first always as children might not result in self-centered adults, but modeling the kind of behavior you want to see in the world and showing them the kind of fulfilling relationship you hope they will enjoy some day is an infinitely better strategy.

5) I was not meant to be miserable
My husband is funny and smart.  He would surely say the same about me.  We have hopes and dreams and inside jokes.  We have favorite foods and favorite movies.  We have 13 years of memories together.  We make each other feel important and useful and happy.  I can't always say the same about my children.  Because again, they're kids.  It's not their job to make me feel important and useful and happy.  By putting my marriage first, I am saying "I deserve to be content and fulfilled.  I was not meant to be miserable." And my husband can say the same.

And it seems to me that children with happy, content, fulfilled parents have the best chance of growing up to be happy, content, fulfilled adults.

   
post signature

62 comments :

  1. I love this. Sometimes I start to feel guilty for putting my marriage before the kids. That's dumb, huh? :) Thanks for giving me a happy list to show that it is good. Cheers.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love this. And I totally agree. And surely he'd say you're funny and smart and if he doesn't add "beautiful" to that list you're perfectly within your rights to punch him in the gut (if you so choose).

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great post! I think many people would disagree with you and say that your children should be your first priority, but you are right on. Having a healthy marriage is the best thing for your kids too!

    ReplyDelete
  4. There is a sound bite that I always return to when people question me about homeschooling my kids and "socialization." I once heard a woman say that she would much rather her children be surrounded by adults that she admired so they can model that behavior then a bunch of kids who may or may not have model behavior (they're kids after all). And first and foremost that starts in the home, with their parents. If my kids' main influence is going to be myself and my husband, we better do our best to be the best influence possible... and putting each other first sounds like a solid place to start.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Love it! Absolutely agree! Have been living this way for 15+ years now and wouldn't trade a single day. And yes, the children do appreciate it!

    ReplyDelete
  6. It's difficult to remember that the marriage is the first priority with the immediacy of small children around. I needed this reminder today. Sometimes it FEELS like my kids need to be my first priority because their needs are RIGHT THERE...you know, in front of my face, ringing in my ears (with their high-pitched voices)...but my first priority is to my husband...after all, he'll be there (God willing) after the last kid flies the coop...I better know how to act! :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. mmmmm love this. love it a lot. I couldn't agree more and have been trying to put this in a post for a month now! Well done. And congrats to you and your partner in life!

    ReplyDelete
  8. yes yes and yes! It makes so much sense to put your marriage first, but so many people put their children first and their marriage falls apart. This was an awesome reminder...thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  9. THIS is why I LOVE you, Dwija!!! You have a way of putting things into perspective. You've changed my life and how I see things with your posts. Truly.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Totally agree (although it is hard to do)! We are God's example to them how to make and keep a promise, through thick and thin. It is good for them to see that before them, you and your husband started something that will last and last.

    ReplyDelete
  11. So timely as my husband and I just returned from a short overnight trip away. It was a wonderful reminder of why I married him and a renewal of all the things we love about each other. Sometimes we lose that, in thinking about and putting children first.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I remember my Granny telling me (something along the lines of) the Bible says a woman's first responsibility is to her husband, then to her children. It was YEARS before I understood what she meant - I could've used your post about 20 years ago, lady!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Absolutley Lovely! Absolutley True! Wonderfully said.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Wow, this is fantastic! I am in complete agreement. Thank you for writing this, Dwija!

    ReplyDelete
  15. I love this post Dweej! It's spectacular - and so are you!!!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Yup! Perfect! Thanks, Dwija!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Wonderful post! The day my daughter was born, my mother told me, "God first. Husband second. Baby third." I was shocked at the time, but I'm so glad someone told me! I think I would have defaulted to children before husband, were it not for her advice.

    I've thought before about each of your points, except the last one. And it is an excellent point- kids are neither meant to, not capable of, making us happy the way a spouse does. Loved reading this!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Loved it. Wonderful post. I see so many young mothers (and not-so-young ones, too) who are totally consumed by their role as mothers. I wonder about their marriages. Give me a lot to think about!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Amen sista friend! Preach it! Gabe and I always remind each other of this.. its nice to see someone else feels the same way!

    ReplyDelete
  20. This is wonderful, and so true, and not said nearly often enough! hooray!

    ReplyDelete
  21. Yes, yes, yes! And yet so few people seem to understand this. I have so many friends who talk about putting their children first as though it were the obvious thing. I know very few people who take the time to nurture their marriages, let alone WORK on them.

    ReplyDelete
  22. All I can say is that I raised not just one, but two hands...at your second request.

    Married for, almost, 41 years, my hubs and I are, almost, at the other end of what most of you are living. Kids grown and married but, we are a dedicated set of Grandparents, now that we've been blessed with them.

    It's so easy for a marriage to become, well, stagnant, especially with everything that can affect a relationship. We all need to step back, close the door on the world when necessary, and renew the beginnings that made us husbands and wives.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Love this!

    If my husband and I keep our marriage strong, that will only lead to good things for our kids. I don't want to be one of those families that falls apart as soon as the kids are gone.

    I remember sitting in a Bible when our first was just a baby and one of the topics was how we are supposed to put our husbands ahead of our kids and all of the reasons why. It was a real wake up call.

    ReplyDelete
  24. So sweet! I like the part about raising kids to be adults...I think I forget that part sometimes! :)

    ReplyDelete
  25. my children are not happy when I send them to their rooms at 9pm (some of mine are older teens)but I tell them that we (dh and I) need our alone time together, to bond and talk. Just talked to them about that right now.

    ReplyDelete
  26. What a sweet picture of you two!! You always give me something good to think about. :)

    ReplyDelete
  27. Hey D! Great post. This something that the Hubs and I have always agreed on. He and I come first. Obviously we both come with God, so He is inherant to our marriage. So many people think that a marriage should be 50/50 but when you and your spouse marry and become one you cant draw that 50/50 line. And quite frankly, there are days where I CANNOT give 50% and can only give 25%...Hubs picks up 75% and keeps us moving. Then then there are days where I pick up the percentage. Point is, we do it together and for each other. Utimately, our kids are better for it. And you are right, kids are selfish and they dont understand (just they way they are supposed to be) but you are creating a foundation and an example that they can learn and build on. ~ LD

    ReplyDelete
  28. Yes, Leslie! I totally agree. Sometimes one of us is 'with it' and the other one isn't, but as long as we're both putting each first, it doesn't matter. Everything that's important will somehow get done :)

    ReplyDelete
  29. Great post!!! It's nice to hear this from the perspective of someone who doesn't have children yet. I think I've pretty much been lead to believe that once you have children, they take over your ENTIRE life. Including your marriage. But it's so reassuring to hear you can make it not be that way!

    ReplyDelete
  30. FABULOUS!!! I've been married for 13 years as well, and I can honestly say that in that time I have not read anything quite as applicable as this! It's a great, and healthy, way of looking at married life with kids, and I'm forwarding this post to my hubby now! :)

    ReplyDelete
  31. Dwija, you are a wise one. I can see now how you manage such a happy household :) I need to take your advice!

    ReplyDelete
  32. great post! really agree with modeling behavior we want to see in our kids... they learn so much early on just by watching how we act!

    ReplyDelete
  33. I need to remember this. So often I am wrapped up in taking care of the kid, house, bills, whatevs... that I'm just plain out of energy for Tom. And that's not good. I want one of those marriages that celebrates a 50 year anniversary.

    ReplyDelete
  34. I wish my motherinlaw could see this.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Give me her email address, Mollie! I don't mind doing the dirty work ;)

    ReplyDelete
  36. I'm fascinated and in awe of this post -to the point where I've read it several times and wish I could go back and have a do-over. You and your husband are providing a wonderful foundation.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Preach, Dwija!

    I have always believed in putting your marriage first. I have gotten mixed results when I've expressed this out loud to people so go you for putting it out there.

    I really believe that THE MOST important gift we can give our children is to model a healthy relationship for them.

    ReplyDelete
  38. I am in total agreement. That is why we make sure to have date nights - even if we have to stay in after the kids are in bed. And we already stress to our kids that mommy and daddy need alone time - time to talk, go out to dinner alone, etc. I think it's so important for them to understand that from the start. And I hate when people say it's easy if you have $$ to go out, take trips, etc.....whatever. You can easily work on putting your marriage first from your couch! It's as simple as spending time together instead of becoming two strangers under one roof. Thanks for the post.

    ReplyDelete
  39. WOW! You are an amazing writer Dwija. Refreshing to hear someone make a stand about the vitality and strength marriage can give someone.

    ReplyDelete
  40. Ryan- Laura finally got you to read my blog!!!! And you even created a google account to comment. I am truly touched, really :D

    ReplyDelete
  41. I totally agree! I used to have a friend who referred to marriage as the "sacramental relationship" in the family. I don't share a Sacrament with my children, my husband clearly comes first, which completely blesses all parties involved!
    This is the first time I've come to your blog, great post!

    ReplyDelete
  42. Thanks for this! A nice reminder of what comes first :)

    ReplyDelete
  43. I love, love, love this post!! It's so true!!! You wrote it to perfection =)

    xx

    ReplyDelete
  44. Hey Dwija! Thanks for writing this post, a pleasure to read as always. Just wondering if you can give any examples of putting the marriage before the kids, tips that you would give to folks soon-to-be married or spouses about to have their first child. I feel like this is really useful advice, but not being a wife or mother yet I'm not sure how I'd put it into practice.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Amen. Amen, amen, amen! I'm new to your blog and this post totally sold me on your writing. Our kids will grow up knowing that daddy comes first in mommy's eyes (and vice versa).

    ReplyDelete
  46. @ducky- so glad you enjoyed it. I like the suggestion to do a post about practical tips. Maybe "5 simple ways to put your spouse first". I'll think about it and see what I come up with :)

    Jenna- thank you. Happy you enjoyed your first visit here! :)

    ReplyDelete
  47. This is fabalous!! You go girl.

    ReplyDelete
  48. What a smart lady you are. :) I think a lot of couples could gain A LOT from reading these wise words.

    Oh, and my marriage comes before my cats, too...it's only the right thing to do ;)

    ReplyDelete
  49. Oh Yay!!! When I saw this title in my inbox I KNEW it was gonna be good... But then upon reading it? This should be required reading for all young couples when they're applying for their marriage licenses! Beautifully said, beautifully lived.

    ReplyDelete
  50. Just read this post. So good-thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  51. What a great perspective! And beautifully stated. You two look very happy. :)

    ReplyDelete
  52. Just joining in the chorus of "amen"s. When A. and I haven't had enough alone time, it totally affects our ability to parent well. And when we're tense/distant with each other, our girls sense that tension and mirror it right back, in the form of being difficult, whiny, etc.

    Here's to grownup time!

    ReplyDelete
  53. This is so true, and so very difficult to accomplish with a newborn in the home! Our little one will be one year old tomorrow, and I still struggle to show my husband that he is first - not because it is hard to do, but because our child needs me so much of the time. I have promised him that I will lavish more attention on him when she is a little older, sleeping through the night more, etc. The good news is that we are in a covenant before God to love each other and be together for the rest of our lives, and our child(ren?) will only be little a short time. The funny thing is that she is already trying to play us against each other, and we are laying down the foundation that my husband and I are allies and the foundation of the home. She gets angry, then later seems more content. I know it makes her feel safer deep down inside.
    Sorry to write so much :-)
    Be blessed, dear one.

    ReplyDelete
  54. I wish my husband can see this, our life is consumed with our kids he never any time for me. When we go out we go out in separate nights with friends because he doesn't like to leave the kids with anybody. The kids stay in our bed until 10 or 11 pm, sometimes I fall asleep before they leave my bed. I tried telling him over and over that I need sine alone time also and he says I'm jelous because of my kids getting the attention. I'm scared that if we have no time alone when the kids are older we will have nothing on common a it is I feel like I don't know him now. We have been together for 15 years, oh my kids ages are 14, 12 and 4

    ReplyDelete
  55. I wish my husband can see this, our life is consumed with our kids he never any time for me. When we go out we go out in separate nights with friends because he doesn't like to leave the kids with anybody. The kids stay in our bed until 10 or 11 pm, sometimes I fall asleep before they leave my bed. I tried telling him over and over that I need sine alone time also and he says I'm jelous because of my kids getting the attention. I'm scared that if we have no time alone when the kids are older we will have nothing on common a it is I feel like I don't know him now. We have been together for 15 years, oh my kids ages are 14, 12 and 4

    ReplyDelete
  56. Where is your follow up post, 5 Simple Ways to Put your Spouse First? I would really love to read that!

    ReplyDelete
  57. Well my wife already knows the divorce date and she could care less. Our marriage is over and I'm staying until our youngest is 18. She will never ever follow this advice

    ReplyDelete
  58. Well my wife already knows the divorce date and she could care less. Our marriage is over and I'm staying until our youngest is 18. She will never ever follow this advice

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...