Who Comes First? Spouse or Children?
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Who comes first, spouse or children? Not an easy question to answer but one that can have a very big effect on your family.
Who comes first, spouse or kids? This question was posted in a Facebook group I am a member of and right when I read it, I felt 100% confident in my answer and thought that all answers that were being posted in the comments would be similar to my viewpoint.
But that could not have been farther from the reality of the responses I saw as I scrolled down the post.
Before we go any further, I’ll clarify that this question was not posted in the context of “Who would you save from a burning building: Your husband or your Kids?”. In that context, my husband and I are 100% aligned that in a life or death situation, we are both going to be making our kids the top priority. In this case, we are both adults and we would need to focus on our kids before trying to save one another.
This question of “Who comes first, spouse or kids?” comes up more often than I realized it would and it is more complex for so many people than I realized.
As moms, we can feel like we are being torn in 100 different directions. Between work, kids, marriage, friends, church, fitness and keeping up with all the latest trends – it is a lot to keep up with!
And while some of those things may be easier to prioritize than others, it is really hard to determine who should rank #1 in a head-to-head between your spouse and kids.
It is hard to quantify your love for people and say that you love one more than the other. And it is because of the amazing amount of love that I have for both of them, that I choose to prioritize my relationship with my husband over the ones with my kids.
Obviously, I am not perfect at this (my husband can agree with that, although he is great at giving me grace) and we only have one child (for the moment!), so I am certainly not coming at this from the perspective that I have it all nailed down. But putting my spouse first, before my kids is a mentality that I strive to continue long into our marriage.
And choosing my husband over my kids does not mean that I love one more than the other, or that I neglect the kids for anything my husband wants. But it does mean that I aim to love, respect and be a teammate to my husband more than I aim to be a friend, confidante, and problem-solver for my kids.
I don’t believe that loving your spouse and being a great parent are mutually exclusive. I believe those things are very much intertwined. And for me, putting my husband first means that I am positioning myself as his teammate and equal before I am putting myself on my kid’s team.
Below are my very good reasons (in my humble opinion) why I choose to put my husband before my kids.
We are the foundation for our family.
I love my husband and I am so thankful that we are married. But in all honesty, some days it isn’t easy to make our marriage a priority.
We have a print hanging in our house that says “I Like You AND I Love You”. It is something my husband said a lot when we were dating and we have carried it through in our marriage. But sometimes we both know that it goes the opposite way.
“I Love You AND I Don’t Like You Right Now” – (this has also been said when we get frustrated with each other)
And in those moments where it isn’t easy to prioritize our marriage, I come back to this reason. The best thing for my children is to see their parents persevere through life together. To be a strong team who leads the family together. Our kids need to see their parents in love and supporting one another through thick and thin.
If we, as the foundation, start to crumble – then the rest of the family goes down with us.
Our kids will benefit so much more from having two parents who are creating a happy, loving home together than they will from having two parents who are disjointedly trying to make their kids the center of their own worlds.
We want to raise selfless (not selfish) kids.
One of the hardest things about marriage is learning to put someone ahead of yourself. When we first got married, I was truly unaware of how selfish I was and it was a big adjustment for me to have to start taking Eric’s wants and needs into consideration with or above my own.
It became less about what I wanted to do and more about what WE wanted to do (where we would eat, go on vacation, attend church, spend our time). And that was difficult for me to do, even despite having parents who modeled a fantastic marriage for me and my siblings.
When you have kids, it can certainly be easy, and even feel right to make them the center of your world.
As a generation of parents, we are more focused on raising perfect kids than ever before. We read all the books, and buy all the products to make sure we are caring for our kids as best we can. We worry constantly that if we didn’t follow Moms on Call or Baby Wise that we have set them up with terrible sleep patterns that will negatively impact the rest of their lives.
And we do that because we want what is best for our children. But by making them our central focus, we are setting them up to be entitled. They start to realize that we think their needs are more important than other people’s needs, and they will act that out as they get older.
As moms, we need to make sure that our kids know that they aren’t the center of the world, and that includes our world. Certainly, there are some days where our kids are totally on top of the world, but most of the time, I want them to know that they don’t always come first.
One of the arguments that I have heard for putting your kids first before your spouse is “My husband is an adult and he can handle himself, while my kids need me to take care of them.”
I am not advocating for you to neglect your kids to cater to your husband’s every whim. This isn’t about turning your back on your kids if they are hungry, scared or sick. But this would mean not staying home to play with your kids if you promised your husband a date night. Or siding with your husband on a form of discipline (like “no TV today”) no matter how much your child whines to you about how unfair daddy is.
To Set Our Kids Up For Successful Marriages
My husband and I both had parents who acted this out in their own marriages and that was a huge blessing for both of us to be able to witness.
I saw marriages where the husband and wife were a team and they were stronger together than they were apart. And that is what I wanted for my own marriage.
One day, our son and daughter will grow up and hopefully also enter into marriages with great people. And I want them to know how they should treat their spouse, and how they should be treated by their spouse.
I want my son to grow up knowing how to put his wife first. I want him to love her and respect her and give her plenty of adoration.
I want my daughter to have a husband that views her as a teammate and that she would strive to be a helper to him as they lead their family together.
We want our kids to learn those behaviors from watching us in our marriage.
We chose each other
When my husband and I got married, we made a promise to love each other as long as we both shall live. We chose to be married and to merge our lives.
There is a verse that describes marriage as the process of two individuals becoming one new person (Genesis 2:24). One life joined together through matrimony.
With that mindset, putting my husband behind my kids is just the same as placing myself as second to my kids. And by rule of order, that would make our kids the leaders of our family -which is not something that is healthy for any of us.
My husband is my other half and we made a decision to put each other first, every day for the rest of our lives. He doesn’t deserve to be 2nd place to anyone. He doesn’t deserve to be taken for granted or to have his needs cast out as less important than those or our kids. And likewise, he feels the same way about me and my importance in our relationship.
It will be just us again one day
I love my kids, but there will be a time where we are all ready for them to move out of the house and start their own families (I assume this is 13 for girls and for boys – whatever age they develop Body Odor).
Joking aside, our goal as parents is to prepare our kids to live successfully without us when they hit adulthood. And when that day comes, it will be just me and my husband.
I want to prepare ourselves for that empty nester stage so that we don’t get to that point and not know how to connect with each other without the kids around. I want us to have spent years together cultivating a connected marriage so that they adjustment without kids doesn’t also mean learning how to be a couple again.
So setting aside intentional time for my husband is important now because it will create a life together that we will be able to carry forward even without kids.
We want to stay married
My final reason for putting my husband first in our family is that I want to stay married to him (and he feels likewise).
In order to do that, we have to make sure that we are keeping our marriage the priority of our family. We both love our kids and agree that they are such an amazing blessing for our family and we absolutely want the best for them and to give them an amazing life.
And we also know that we want to give each other the marriage we promised to have on our wedding day. We want to love and respect each other every day. We want to make the other person feel wanted, and adored – because let’s face it, your kids aren’t always going to be the ones to do that for you.
There are certainly going to be days where I am exhausted from work, only to come home to have the dinner I made thrown on the ground and get kicked in the shins by a toddler (this has happened) – and on those days, I don’t have enough energy to do anything for my husband. And he is completely understanding of that.
My goal is for those days to be the exception, not the rule. I want to try and find some way to encourage my husband and show him he is important each day, even if it is something small.
Because when I aim to out love and out serve my husband (Romans 12:10), we are steering away from the chances of divorce and creating a stronger marriage for our family.
I hope these words don’t come off as something that should make you feel guilty about how you are parenting your kids or loving your spouse. My purpose in sharing this post is to help us, as moms and wives, to see that loving your kids does not mean you have to love your spouse less. And that making your spouse the first priority in your family, does not mean that your kids will feel neglected or unloved.
If you have any questions or would like to talk about this topic further, please feel free to email me!