Parenting teens · Parenting tweens · What Do You Know Wednesday

Why I Don’t Always Put My Husband Before My Kids

A few days ago a young, newly married, Facebook friend of mine posted an article entitled Why My Husband Will Always Come Before My Kids The author of the article discusses her policy of always prioritizing the needs of her husband over those of her children. She explains that making him number one is the best way to divorce-proof their marriage and to model a good marriage for her children. And while I admire her efforts to keep her marriage intact and to provide her children with the basis for their own future happy marriages, I think she is colossally wrong.

Her’s reminded me of a story I heard not long ago about a guy who would tell his children that if the family boat were sinking and they were all drowning, that he would swim past the children to save their mother. He told them this to stress the importance of the marital bond and to emphasize how much he loved their mother. But I imagine that to young children, who should see their parents as a untied front determined to protect them, such a story would be confusing at best and terrifying at worst.

Don’t get me wrong. Keeping my marriage healthy is a priority for me. I have seen and heard of couples who drifted apart because they had no shared interests. I certainly don’t advocate couples putting their marriages on hold while they are raising their children. Couples need to make creating strong marriages a priority. I just don’t believe that the way to do this is to make one person in the family more important than the others.

I admit it. I don’t always put my husband first. Why not? Well, if I am being honest, there are a lot of reasons – reasons I’m not proud of, but I am a flawed human being and an imperfect wife. As much as I really do want to be selfless sometimes I don’t put my husbands needs first because… I’m tired. I’m hungry. I’m grumpy. My favorite show is on. I’m into my book. He annoyed me. It’s Thursday. I want to sleep. I’m angry. I want to paint my nails. I want to go out. I want to stay in. I want my way… You get the idea. But beyond these selfish, petty reasons, I also don’t always put my husband first because I don’t think it’s realistic or wise or the best thing we can do for our family. Here are the best reasons for not always putting my husband first.

  • I don’t even know what that means. How does one always prioritize the needs of one person over those of other family members? Does putting each other first mean that we skip out on the kids every time we want to? Can we skip the bedtime routine? The band concert? The baseball game? Because one or both of us need a date night?  Yes, sometimes we can. But we can’t always put each other first. More often than not, we just have to put date night on hold, suck it up and to to the dang ballgame. Being married means (for most people) having kids and having kids means sometimes having to do things that don’t necessarily bring us closer. In fact, sometimes all the constant going to game, practices and events makes us tired and grumpy and not so nice to each other. But we do it for the kids because the kids are our priority – not always, but often. After all, if they aren’t our priority, whose priority will they be? Do they have to wait until if/when they get married to be first on someone’s list?
  • We believe in putting the person first who is the neediest in the moment. That makes sense. Right?  Sometimes that’s the kids. When they were small, it was often the kids. Sometimes it’s my husband. Sometimes it’s me. The point is, that we want to model sensitivity for our kids. Who is really having a bad day? Who needs some extra attention?  A pat on the back?  A little one on one time?  Trust me. When it’s one of us, we don’t hesitate to make that a priority. Date night is a very important part of our marriage.  But when it’s one of the kids who is the neediest, we aren’t afraid our marriage will suffer because we put the kids first sometimes.
  • Love does not divide. It multiplies. The author of the above mentioned article points out that as much as she loves her children, she loves her husband more. Why? Why does someone have to be loved more? My husband and I are crazy about each other, and we are crazy about our kids. I have never thought of  it as an either/or scenario. Our love created our children. There’s no reason for us to see them as threat to that love.
  • He doesn’t expect me to put him first all the time. If I always put my husband’s needs before our children’s, then our kids will see a man who thinks his needs are more important than theirs. They will see a great marriage built, at least in part, at their expense. We would rather they see a great marriage built on an extravagant all encompassing love. And that guy with the boat? I can’t speak for his wife, but if my husband swam past our drowning children to save me, he would be wasting his effort, because when he finally did get to me, I would kill him – by drowning. I don’t want to always be first. And I wouldn’t want to be married to a man who always wants to be first either.

My marriage is a gift – one I intend to nurture. But one of the gifts of marriage should be that it helps both my husband and me be less selfish.  A marriage built on the idea that someone is more loved, more important than the other members of the family misses the point of marriage.

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Life with Kids

What Do You Know Wednesday: Choosing Your Battles

It’s spring! One of my favorite times of year! I love the sunshine! The budding flowers! The long days! The new life! But I don’t love trying to figure out what to wear. It’s 40 something every morning and often in the 70’s by lunch time. Boots are out. But are sandals really appropriate?

How do you dress for two, sometimes three seasons, in one day? I don’t have the answer, but I do know that I have enough to worry about trying to get myself out the door.  My kids are on their own.

This isn’t really a problem with the girls, but Charming Chet makes me crazy.  He wants to wear shorts.  Of course he does! It was 75 degrees yesterday.  I try to guide him. I show him the forecast.  I offer advice.  But in the end, if he’s determined to wear shorts, I’ll let him. I figure if he is miserable, he’ll learn his lesson.  If he doesn’t learn his lesson, he deserves to be miserable.

To me, this is an easy one.  He won’t die from getting too chilly at recess, and he’s not likely to suffer a grave humiliation.  There are other areas, I’m more adamant.  He doesn’t get to learn the hard way about wearing his seat belt or driving the four wheeler too fast.  But when possible I try to let all my kids learn their own lessons and make their own choices.  We all have different levels of tolerance and different battles we choose to fight or ignore. (I have others besides shorts in cold weather) I’d love to hear from you.  What battles have you chosen not to fight?

Alway ready for battle!
Alway ready for battle!

 

 

Confessions · Life with Kids

What I Really Want for Christmas (a mom’s list)

For weeks now my kids have been asking me what I want for Christmas.  And I have said the thing that I am supposed to say, that I always say –  I don’t need anything.  I just want  all of my children to be happy and healthy.  It’s true.  I don’t need anything.  And I do want my children to be happy and healthy.  But they are good children, so no matter how often I say that I really don’t need anything, they will pool their money and buy me a new bathrobe or nightgown, or a maybe well-intentioned kitchen gadget.  And I’ll be grateful because I know they are buying me presents because they love me and want to show me that they care.

But here’s the thing.  I’m lying. I don’t just want healthy happy kids. Sure that’s the most important thing, but there are a few things that I desperately want.  I want ’em real bad.  Perhaps it’s not too late to give my family my real Christmas list…

  • I want everyone to lick or wipe the peanut butter off the spoon before dropping it in the sink.  Better yet, lick it off and drop it in the dishwasher.
  • I want to never hear the words. SHOTGUN! again.
  • I want to never open the cabinet and find a box with approximately two tablespoons of cereal left in it.
  • I want a vehicle free of dead french fries and straw wrappers.
  • I want all the socks in whole world (or at least in my house) to find and keep their forever mate.
  • I want counter tops free from crumbs.
  • I want well-fed dogs and chickens and livestock.  And I want to eliminate the phrase Did you feed the….  from my vocabulary.
  • I want to stop pretending that the little flecks of green in the pasta are seasonings.  It’s spinach, ya’ll.  Okay.  It’s spinach.  It has always been spinach.
  • I want to sit down with my coffee or my computer or my book for more than five minutes at time before someone says, “Hey Mamma!  Will you…”
  • I want to always be able to find a pen.  And my scissors.  And the duck tape.  Seriously.  Who keeps running off with the duck tape?
  • I want to stop repeating myself.
  • I want to stop repeating myself.
  • I want a TV show that comes on during primetime that I can watch with my whole family and that does not involve wildlife or people wearing cammo – and that will not be interrupted by commercials for tampons, Viagra, or Victoria’s Secret.
  • I want to learn how to use the television remote control, and I want the kids to forget how to use the television remote control.
  • I want, just now and then, to arrive at church with a relaxed, well-dressed family at least 15 minutes early.
  • I want to pray more as a family.
  • I want to play more as a family.
  • I want to sit down to dinner more often.
  • I want to cook from scratch, and I want someone else to clean the kitchen.
  • I want more nights at home with my family and fewer nights all going in different directions.
  • I want to slow down time.

Obviously, some of the things on my list are within my family’s power to give me and some are not.  But in the end, I know I will get bathrobe or a nightgown or a kitchen gadget.  And that’s okay.  Because even though whatever I get might not come with a life-time supply of  spotless kitchens or perfectly matched socks, it will come with love. And I really could use a new bathrobe.

My Greatest Gifts!
My Greatest Gifts!

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