The Love Hierarchy

Once you become a mother, you’re supposed to sublimate your needs and fully embrace this role -- often to the detriment of your marriage. Alisa Bowman suggests that, if you care about the well being of your children, you do everything possible to nurture your marriage. Here are some easy ways to put your marriage first.

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Happy parents = happy kids

According to Bowman, kids thrive in a healthy home environment. Happily married couples are better able to model good communication skills, too -- and these are skills that we all want our kids to learn. Happily married couples are healthier physically and have more energy, so they are better able to do fun things as a family. Happily married couples are also more aligned in their parenting, so kids are less able to pit one parent against the other. Says Bowman:

"I'll give you an example. I have a daughter, and there are some difficult discussions that work best if my husband tackles them. For instance, when she's a tween, I want him to be the one who tells her about boys and sex and what not. She will trust that information more from her father. Since we have a good marriage, I can feel comfortable asking my husband to do this -- and talking with him about the best way to have this discussion with her.

"My husband and I see ourselves as a team. Because of that, we strategize together. If I did not nurture my marriage, my husband and I would be more separate. I might not feel comfortable talking with him about this. I might even be competitive with him, trying to get our daughter to love me more. Then I would have the discussion with her, even though that is not best for her."

4 Ways to put your marriage first

Once a month or so, think about the state of your marriage. Mentally rank your marital happiness on a scale of 1 to 10. If you feel disconnected with your husband or realize that things are not as good as they should be, make an effort to work on your relationship.

It doesn't have to be time consuming to prioritize your marriage. Often, it's as simple as taking a few minutes each evening to connect.

  1. Spend 10 minutes every evening sitting closely (or cuddling).
  2. Connect once a day about how you are both doing.
  3. Do something that makes your spouse feel good at least once a day. This can be as simple as a random hug or compliment.
  4. Keep the household hierarchy straight. Allow your kids to see Mom and Dad hugging and being playful together; it's good for them to see that. Encourage your kids to play independently, and enjoy time together as a couple as they do so. Enlist your kids to do chores around the house, so you both have less on your plate and more time to spend together. Resist the urge to helicopter parent. Continually ask yourself, "Do my kids really need me right now? Or do I want my kids to need me right now?"

More couple time ideas:

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Comments on "Love your kids? Love your husband!"

Shaikh October 18, 2012 | 11:32 AM

I do disagree with one statement that its okay to not feel like taking a bullet for your spouse. Love is SELF-SACRIFICAL and without that component of love, love is not love at all. If you TRULY LOVE some one you would be willing to give your life for that person spouse or child.

Ms. Chey May 03, 2011 | 8:23 PM

I think everyone should put their kids first. There is MANY MANY men out there but theres only that kid. Putting your husband first is wrong in my eyes.

Tinamarie Bernard August 31, 2010 | 11:59 PM

I liked this so much, it inspired me to write my own piece on the topic. Thanks for giving me the dose of courage to stand up for this as well. :) I do link back to you, and hope my readers find your parenting articles as well. T

Amanda August 18, 2010 | 1:30 PM

I completely agree with this. I think part of the reason my children are often so happy and well-adjusted is because my husband and I have a great relationship with each other. My husband's parents are always fighting with each other (I mean it's actually odd to see them go a day without fighting about something). Not only did this have a negative impact on my husband growing up, but it continues to have a negative impact. No one wants to be around unhappy people who are constantly at war with others and themselves.

Mr. S August 16, 2010 | 12:05 PM

Thanks very much for this article. Im going to show it to my wife who always put her childrens needs before our own. We have lost touch and I am hoping this article will help. Its nice that she loves her children (they are my stepchildren and I love them too) but they are 21 and 16 and its not necessary to answer their every beck-and-call. Thanks for a great article!

Ms_Fu August 14, 2010 | 12:30 PM

As a woman who grew up in a home where my parents loved us more than each other, I totally agree with Chapman. Nothing caused me more stress than the poor relationship that my parents had with one another, even when they said "it doesn't concern you." My hope is that I will learn from my parents' mistakes (though I must add that they are lovely people) and put my husband first. Besides, I think focusing too much on your kids makes them narcissistic and deprives them of the ability to be truly independent.

isaac August 13, 2010 | 10:05 AM

well i give thanks that you can make this site interesting to people,so i will do as directed.thanks.

M Zayfert August 10, 2010 | 4:44 PM

Agree! You have to show your children what love looks like. It is important to set the model for the way they should respect themselves so that they can have a loving relationship all through their lives.

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