I was scanning my google reader the other day and I saw Dumb Little Man had a blog post called Five Surefire Ways to Kill Your Marriage.
It’s hard to live up to a killer title like that. The article itself was predictable: Date night, sex, mind-reading, negativity, blah blah blah.
Except for #5!
5. Putting your children before your spouse
This one is a big one. In today’s world, children are everything. They need to be catered to, given a ride to different activities, helped with homework, formed into perfect little creatures that will eventually take over the world. By doing that, your spouse can become invisible and your marriage will ultimately fall apart.
Children are important, don’t get me wrong. But your marriage is the most important part of your family. You need to pay attention to your partner, give him your full attention and spend time with each other. Children will survive if they play second role, but your marriage might not.
Based on a quick scan of the comments, it appears many people agreed with #5. But, as one commenter said, “I guess everyone supports point no. 5 except children of parents who put their spouses first.”
When I was growing up, adults came before children. This was true in general, but seemed particularly true in my family.
I haven’t forgotten my mother taking my big sister and I aside on the eve of her marriage, and warning us “Don’t ever make me choose between him and you, because I’ll choose him.”
She went on to tell us that marriage is forever, whereas children are not. (Which is pretty funny, when you think about it, since our family has such a long and colourful history of divorce, going back generations, long before divorce was common or considered respectable.)
This menacing little heart-to-heart talk came out of nowhere. I was 10 years old, and I was startled and confused by it. At the time, I got along okay with the man she was marrying. It hadn’t even crossed my mind to make her choose. And of course I never did make her choose. I just left home when I was 15, and, a few years later, when her marriage ended, she looked me up.
This question of the relative position of children in the family hierarchy has come up more than once in my family. And maybe that’s a pivotal point – whereas my mother (and perhaps others of her generation) viewed family relationships as hierarchical, my siblings and I never saw our children as being beneath us. (This post, written by little sister, provides a particularly compelling example.)
Frankly, I don’t think children must always come first. Other people’s wants and needs matter too. But kids have a right to have their needs met before the marriage gets nurtured and before the spouse gets their share of undivided attention. And by needs, I mean more than food and shelter. I include the emotional needs of feeling loved, cared for, valued, respected, protected and wanted. If you’re generally meeting those needs along with the core physical needs like food, shelter and medical care, then by all means put the kids on the back burner for awhile.
What do you think?