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Making Marriage a Priority

August 15, 2006

Mary Tsao at Mom Writes has written a thoughtful entry about marriage and divorce for couples with children. Like Mary, I’ve been married twice. So has Dan. Both of us are committed to making this marriage work. And we will, because both of us realize that we were partially responsible for the demise of our first marriages.

The reasons behind my first marriage coming to an end essentially boil down to two things. (1) I married a man who had never been in a monogamous relationship — he cheated on every woman he’d ever been with, and I was no exception. (2) When Trevor was born, Trevor became the center of my universe. I no longer had any time, affection, or attention for my ex. The marriage lasted exactly one year after Trevor was born, and my ex told me at one point that he felt our marriage began to decline when I found out I was pregnant.

I see many women who are passionately devoted to their children. Their entire existence and identity is wrapped up in being a mommy. However, like Ayelet Waldman I believe that the relationship with one’s husband should be the priority relationship. If mom and dad have a healthy relationship, the children will be happy and secure. They do not need to be and should not be the center of mom’s universe.

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When I led a group for stay-at-home moms, I issued a weekly challenge and a question of the week for discussion. Whenever the challenge or topic was one that required doing/saying something positive about or for one’s husband, participation was extremely low. Some women never spoke positively about their husbands, and others never spoke of them at all. I wonder how many of those marriages will last.

My own parents divorced after twenty years of marriage… when I was away in college and my brother was a senior in high school, about to go away to college himself. I often wonder if they had made more of an effort to stay connected during the child-rearing years, if they would have stayed married. Because ultimately, we have to realize that some day (if we do our job as parents), our kids will grow up and leave home. Our spouse, however, will still be there. Do we want to spend the Empty Nest years with someone who is essentially a stranger, or with someone with whom we can’t wait to spend time?

I am my kids’ mom. I am committed to raising my children (hence my decision to quit work and be a SAHM), but my primary role is not being a mommy. My primary role is that of wife, and I am absolutely longing for the day when Dan and I have an empty nest. In the mean time, we’re having date night once a week and making time for each other whenever possible. 😉

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5 comments

  1. Great post. And I’m not saying that just because you linked to me. 🙂

    I agreed with Ayelet, too, and was astounded to find out that it was a controversial stand to take. But I agree with you — I consider children to be a temporary part of my home life. One day they will grow up and go to school and when they do, I don’t want to turn to my husband and realize that we have nothing in common.

    I think it’s important to nurture our relationships with our partners as we nurture and raise our children.


  2. This is so true! We have eight children, but try to work in date nights whenever possible. It is really important for kids to see that their parents’ relationship is a priority and that they (the kids) aren’t the entire center of the universe. I think it gives security to the child to witness the love between their parents.
    I think this is logging me in under my wordpress account, which is my baby basics blog. My personal blog is at Home Sweet Home.


  3. I read Ayelet’s article when it was first published in the NYT last year, and I linked to it on my blog back when I had about four readers. 🙂 But I totally get what she’s saying. And I know that I can be guilty of putting child before husband – as much as I preach that I believe the marriage comes first. It’s so hard.

    I do very much believe that the model of a strong marriage is one of the greatest gifts we can give our children…and I needed to be reminded of that – again – today.

    Really thoughtful, inspiring post. Thanks for that.


  4. Wonderful post!


  5. You are one of the few women i have meet that think like this. I totally agree with you. Although I do not have children if I do I know the priority is to GOD, then my husband, then my children. It’s sad because when we have get togethers with our friends the guys will be in one room playing video games while the women sit around the kitchen table talking about nothing but there children. I can’t really add to the conversation but also I know we have more in common then just talking about kids. Men don’t do this. Don’t get me wrong I am not saying to not talk about kids but there is more to life than children. Hope that doesn’t sound rude.



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