There is this age old question that keeps being asked by married people. It produces lots of stern opinions and even more questions. Who comes first, your spouse or your children? Most people will be taken back by this question. “How can you even think about putting your children second?!” We get it! But hear us out!
This question is often asked when we are trying to balance our priorities in life and wanting to create a happy marriage. As relationships mature, we tend to stop trying as hard to keep our significant others happy. And then when children come along, it feels impossible to even spend time with your partner anymore because taking care of them seems to take up all your time. But did you know working on keeping your marriage healthy and happy is one of the best things you can do for your children? Having happy parents reduces feelings of depression, stress, and anger on children.
Today we are doing to dive in to why we think your spouse should be your first priority and how it will improve both your and your children’s quality of life.
Why you should prioritize your spouse
1. What we give our attention to grows. If the expectation and desire is to have a lasting marriage we have to be intentional about making that happen. When marriage goes on autopilot that is often when it fails. Many couples who have been married many years talk about their marriage evolving into even a greater love as the time passed. Those are couples who put their marriage first. They don’t let the love dwindle away over time. If we want that we have to make sure our marriage is our first priority.
2. We vowed to be with our spouse for the rest of our lives. Although it feels like our children will be with us forever, the time will come when they will move out and have lives of their own. Our spouse will be the one still there. An important thing to note is that while our children are in the house with us, we make choices that affect our marriage either positively or negatively. These choices will create intimacy or separation that will show up when the children are out of the home.
3. Having a strong marriage is the best thing for our kids to see. When they see us working as a team to make choices, spending time together and being respectful, it shows them that they are in a safe and secure environment. It’s a way that we show our kids they are loved as well. We are teaching our children what kind of mate to be and what kind of mate to seek later in life. We want our kids to be the first priority to their spouse in their future marriages. That is why showing them the example now is so important.
Things that get in the way of prioritizing your spouse
When our children are born they are dependent on us. It is normal for them to require a lot of our attention. In a way they require us to make them the main priority for a period of time. We end up getting stuck in a place where we continue to feel like they are the number one priority even as they grow and become more independent. As our kids mature we want to make sure they are well taken care of and have the best that we can offer. Sometimes that ends up with us putting their wants and needs above our spouse’s and even our own. It all comes from a good place! However, we get to be mindful it is a very easy trap to fall into.
We already touched base on this a bit, but our children grow up and have their own children. Our spouses are the ones we chose to spend the rest of our lives with. Wouldn’t it be great to enjoy that time together instead of trying to relearn all about who each of you are? Besides, keeping our spouse as a priority when the kids are still young makes parenting easier. You and your spouse can work as a team rather than feeling like two separate people trying to raise the same children. You always have someone there to support you.
Finances play a big role in the way we live our lives. And let’s be honest, we have to have money. It is easy to get sucked into working more hours to make ends meet. We feel like working more will help our family. And it does, financially, but if it’s not absolutely necessary, is it worth the tradeoff? Remember most of the time, us being there, present for an experience, is way more important than that extra hour or two of income.
Other times, family life is hard. Maybe it’s a struggle or we don’t know if we are parenting right. Instead of facing that challenge we would rather spend our time working where we know how to be successful. It makes us feel like a good person and that we are contributing.
Working the hours we work can be a legitimate needs for our family. If that is the case, is there still a way that you can still make your spouse priority? Absolutely! Meet for lunch or call them on your lunch break. Can you shift your work hours to go in a little earlier if your family is still sleeping at that time, allowing you to get home when it’s family time after work and school? It can get a little hectic, but it’s possible with a little effort.
Some of us are social beings. We love being out with friends and it brings us joy. It often is exciting to do different activities with friends. Or we feel accepted and appreciated by our friends. Something we don’t feel at home or work. We are drawn to spend our extra time with our friends rather than our family because of these situations.
Putting your spouse first sometimes means choosing them over our friends. Or maybe that means bringing your partner with you to do something with your friends. You could also host friends over at your place where you can still spend time with your significant other. Showing your mate off to your friends makes your mate feel important.
Sometimes other responsibilities get in the way of making our spouse the first priority. Things like taking care of elderly parents, volunteer commitments or a passion project we have committed to.
Sometimes we get to reconsider our responsibilities. Why are they our responsibilities? Do we need to say no more often? Is it something we can do with your spouse or as a family? Maybe it is something we need to drop this season.
This doesn’t mean you can’t have any personal time or hobbies. In fact, we encourage you both to spend some time alone doing what you love individually. But at the end of the day, life is about balance. If you’re spending so much time on personal activities that you’re neglecting your significant other, it’s probably time to rethink your responsibilities’ priorities.
How to balance your spouse with other priorities
We know that we have to make our mate a priority, but sometimes we are left wondering how we can make it all happen. How do we balance our spouse with other priorities?
First, ask your mate what makes them feel most important. Sometimes the things we do for our spouse isn’t what they would really like most. You could be grinding away in the kitchen trying to cook them a great dinner when they arrive home thinking that is what they would enjoy. But in reality all they really want you to do is stop and welcome them when they come home. Knowing what makes your partner feel loved and then doing it regularly will go a long way in making them a priority. Knowing your partner’s love language is incredibly helpful in figuring out how to make your partner feel loved.
Second, when you wake up to start your day do something for your partner that will make them feel special before you leave for work. This ensures that no matter what happens in that day you have done a minimum of one thing to make your spouse a priority. For some that might be a short note on the counter and for others that might be drinking coffee together for five minutes. Whatever you decide to do, the first thing you have committed to when you wake up is letting your partner know you thought of them.
Third, create a dedicated time for just the two of you to enjoy a nice date night. Ideally this would happen every week, but we know life can get busy. Set aside an hour or so and enjoy the time together. It doesn’t have to be expensive, there are many affordable date night ideas you can try! This time together will strengthen your bond and create happy memories for you to look back on. You can even try signing up for Crated with Love! We send our subscribers a unique date night every month focused on growing our couples closer together and creating laughter.
We know it can be hard trying to figure out who comes first, your spouse or your children. While the thought of putting your children after your spouse can be incredibly scary, the benefits of growing up with loving parents in a happy marriage will have a tremendous positive impact on not only their childhoods, but the rest of your children’s lives.
Start your date night adventure!
Having a monthly date night is an easy and incredibly effective way of prioritizing your marriage. We make it even easier by sending you a special date night box with everything necessary included so all you have to do is open and enjoy together!