I know you have heard the age-old question, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” I still argue that one with people just for fun. In marriage, I think about the question “Who gets most of my attention, the husband or the kids?”
I grappled with this for years. On the one hand, my husband came first, before all of the children were born. But on the other hand, the babies are so cute, innocent, needy and defenseless. Shouldn’t they get the best of my time and energy to become secure and independent adults, knowing they were loved? Or should the children see that I put God and my husband first so that they grow up strong in the faith and secure in knowing that their two parents love each other deeply?
My husband and I love our children. They truly are a joy to us, but as each one was born, I found myself spending every waking moment thinking about them, nursing them and nurturing them. I worked extra hours at my job to afford more lessons, clubs, and toys for them and eventually I chose to homeschool them through 6th grade. They were my entire world and I made the foolish assumption that they were my husband’s world too.
I remember a woman from my church telling me a Biblical principle that my husband should still come before the children. It may have come from the passages in 1 Peter that talk about wives being submissive to husbands and husbands being considerate and respectful to their wives. Either way, I rationalized that the kids needed me more. I never imagined that by putting my husband on the back burner of our marriage that the relationship would begin to fizzle out burner by burner.
My sex drive was low, as I was so consumed by mommy duties. Our finances were off from all of their extracurricular activities. I could not justify spending money on date night when that money could be spent on new ballet shoes for our daughter or for skating lessons for our son. I could not figure out why my husband would want to spend his only night off from his job with just me and miss out on family time with the kids. (I am now flattered when he wants me all to himself)
At some point, I had even put the kid’s sleep before the sleep needs of my own husband. I breastfed each child for a long time by American standards and there always seemed to be a small person in between us at bedtime. My husband was a wreck at work from his poor nights’ sleep and the fights just led me to keep the peace by moving into the kid’s rooms at night until they were weaned.
Eventually, my husband and I fought all the time, wrote nasty notes to each other when we really didn’t want to speak face to face and the time we did spend together was at a swim meet, ballet recital, skating competition or other child-related activity. I had the occasional girl time with my mommy friends and he had his guy time with, well, the guys…..or so I thought. The children grew but when we still had two of them living at home I found out that he had been having an affair with another woman for about 5 months.
What a wake-up call. We went to our pastor and eventually made our marriage better than it has ever been. That story is in the book Stronger Than Broken – One couple’s decision to move through an affair. Ah, but I digress. The lesson I learned was that although my children did need me, what they needed more was to see two happy parents.
So which came first, the chicken or the egg? We may never know. Whom shall I give my best to first, my husband or my kids? Kids are with us for 18 years. My husband and I will be together until death parts us. I often wish I had put my husband first during those ugly years of fighting over so many things but there is no opportunity for a do-over.
I know that our kids were always watching us and I pray that they never fall into dysfunctional relationships as they date and marry. I pray that they don’t remember the loud arguments as much as they remember the trips to the zoo and the amusement parks. I pray that they don’t remember the nasty notes on the kitchen counter as much as they remember the love notes we would also write from time to time. I pray that they don’t wonder why I slept in their rooms for years as much as they remember that we are a loving couple that sleeps together, prays together and looks forward to each passing day as a couple.
Love your God first, husband second and everyone else next. I can assure you that you have enough love inside of you. I know that everyone will have their love tank filled and no child will ever come up to you and say that you loved their daddy too much. Go out and set the example of what a functional marriage looks like and know that you are always #strongerwithlove.