Marriage First

Within the last few weeks national news shows have reported on the debate surrounding whether couples should put their marriage or their children first. The answer is your marriage. Some women argue that their husbands are adults so their children need more attention. Although children will need your attention and even demand your attention when you are with your spouse, emotionally it is not healthier for them to be a higher priority than your spouse.

The safety, security and stability of your children depend on your marital bond. When they know Mommy and Daddy love and care for each other, they feel safe. The smallest of children will ask their parents to kiss each other or to go on a date. They feel sad and afraid if their parents are arguing, or seem disconnected. 

When time is given to care for your marriage, it helps to preserve the entire family unit. Children and jobs will always interfere with your ability to connect as a couple, but deliberately setting time aside for you as a couple will help guard against becoming disconnected or possibly divorce. Many husbands feel lonely and at the bottom of the list of their wives’ priorities. Men complain that after the second or third child they are now in fourth place. They crave time with their wives, but do not know how to tell them. Children’s activities frequently will make it difficult.

Taking time to nurture your marriage will benefit all of you. Time for companionship, a date night, engaging in a sport together, dropping the children at practice and meeting for a half an hour for coffee, shutting down all electronics after the children go to bed and chatting or play cards together or arranging support through babysitters, friends or family to find time together will help continue to develop your connection.

Children will grow up and leave your household; therefore you will want to maintain your relationship throughout their growing years, so you can continue to enjoy time together in your empty-nesting years. Couples who do not care for their marriages risk one of the spouses seeking attention outside of the marriage.

Emotionally caring for each other by talking through the day to day happenings of your jobs, children and households, coming along side each other as a team when parenting, problem solving together, discussing dreams or goals, vacations or what color do we really want to paint that bathroom are components of growing your connection. Your spouse is your best friend, the first person you call when something wonderful or something devastating happens. Also, growing in your sex life, making time for caring for each other in this area helps both of you. Intimacy is as important as your emotional connection. It is the only place where we think from the neck down, and bonding hormones are released through intercourse that make us feel emotionally bonded. True contentment lies in deep attachment or relationship that has been cared for emotionally and sexually for many years. It is truly a safe place when you are loved flaws and all and know that person has your back and will be there for you no matter what. But to get there you have to make time to nurture your marriage.  

Nance Robson, NCC, LPC