My parents were sitting upstairs having dinner together as they often did when my dad put in a long day at work. I could hear my mom recapping her day with my dad. On this particular day, my brother and I had given my mom a hard time with something, the details slip my memory. My prying ears could hear her discussing what we had done and the punishment she had dealt us. Then I was startled to hear, “KIDS GET UP HERE!” My dad was infuriated and told us to sit down. He looked at us with intent in his eyes and said sternly,
“HOW DARE YOU DISRESPECT MY WIFE!”
I remember thinking profoundly, “Your wife? That’s our mother!?!” This was the first time that it clicked that after God, my parents put their relationship with each other first. As the years past, I recognized how they found time for each other, a quiet conversation, an embrace, and their unwavering support for each other, especially when it came to disciplining us. Never did they waiver nor undermine each other.
Years later, as I was getting married and children were on the horizon, my mom reiterated, “Put your spouse after God, and together raise your children to know God” This was something that I thought would be easy for me, after all I had witnessed this with my parents.
Almost two years into our marriage, we were blessed with our first born. Becoming a family, was one of the happiest days of my life. The very moment I held my son for the first time, I instantly felt the most incredible connection with my God and my husband.
My life was consumed with this little bundle of joy. The new world I was living in, left very little time for my husband. It seemed natural to me, because the baby needed far more attention than my husband, however I was unaware of the ensuing disconnection this was causing between my husband and me. We both worked full time and when we were home our entire focus was on our son. An entire week would pass, without a touch or embrace. Although God remained number 1, I had allowed myself to be totally consumed in the love that I had for my child and place my marriage last in priority.
My husband is a man of few words, and his articulation of needs ends up being him getting even quieter as he retreats into himself and his hobbies of outdoor activities. For a time, I felt content with my husband leaving to pursue his hobbies. This gave me more time with my new love, my baby, and I didn’t have to feel guilty for not attending to my husband’s needs.
Physical intimacy hadn’t totally disappeared, but it had turned more equivalent to a chore much like washing the dishes or doing the laundry. The amazing feeling of being one with one another, Ephesians 5:31, like we had experienced prior to our son being born was slowly disappearing.
For our 3rd Anniversary, I planned a weekend with just my husband and I. I had no motive, it was merely because other couples get away for anniversary celebrations so I thought it was the right thing to do. I didn’t think about reconnecting, however we caught up on the last year of thoughts and feelings. It was amazing having an uninterrupted conversation about anything that came to mind. Together we spoke about how how we had both failed in making our marriage a priority. Although I never stopped loving my husband, I fell in love with him again that weekend.
This re-connection, made me start to think about our love and relationship and how I needed to refocus my marriage.
I had fallen into the trap that my mother warned and that I had seen so many follow. By putting my child before my spouse, I was compromising my marriage. So many times, I hear people say, “My kids are my number one priority” or couples, who after years of marriage and kids, decide to separate and divorce. They discover that after years of focusing on the kids first, instead of their marriage, they grow apart versus closer. I didn’t want to become another failed story.
Although having children doesn’t directly destroy a marriage, how you react to having children could. I am thankful that I was able to see what was happening in my own marriage. I strive to prioritize relationships by the word of the Lord: Deuteronomy 6:5 “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” Putting God first, before all other is priority 1. Ephesians 5:22 “Wives, submit to your own husband, as to the Lord.” Wives place your husband as your second priority behind God. Putting your spouse, second only to God, will lead to a foundation to raise your children to love and serve the Lord together as a family. Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in a way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it”.
Have you struggled with putting your spouse before your children? How have you handled the balance between your husband’s needs and your children?