No one has to tell most moms how to make their kids a priority. It’s second nature for us to drop off, pick up, nurture, cook, correct, clean…you get the picture. But in the midst of all that focus, we can overlook one of their most fundamental needs—a mom and dad who love each other!
Your family is a built like a pyramid, with your marriage forming that broad foundation at the bottom. If the marriage relationship gets weak and starts to crumble, all the levels above it are in peril—including your children. This is a hard concept for devoted moms to get a handle on sometimes. We adore our children and feel such a sense of responsibility to them that we tend to make them the top priority all the time. Our kids often reinforce this by being “squeaky wheels,” demanding our attention.
But your husband has needs, too. And whether you realize it or not—so do you! Protecting your marriage relationship from all the things that threaten to drain it is not just OK, it’s necessary. Here are three ways to protect what matters most:
There are exceptions to every rule, but for the most part, you should be able to have some physical and time boundaries that your kids don’t cross except in the case of an emergency. For instance, your bedroom should be a kid-free zone, free from kid clutter and designed for romance and couple time. Similarly, when you put your children to bed, they should be taught to respect that and stay in bed, allowing mom and dad to have some time alone. Sure, we can all break the rules when a thunderstorm rolls through or someone has a tummy ache, but working to establish and maintain boundaries that allow you to connect to your husband one-on-one, even if it’s just to talk, is important.
Trust us, it’s completely OK to say to your child, “I can’t drive you to the Yogurt Barn because I promised your dad I’d pick up his dry cleaning before they close.” Making little favors and tasks that your spouse needs as important as what the kids need says to everybody that Dad matters. Sure he’s an adult and can do some things for himself that they can’t, but there’s a balance to strive for that says “I want to serve you because I love you,” so I choose to make time for these things. Even if it sets off a yogurt crisis.
We tend to read lots of parenting books and scour the earth for advice on doing the best for our kids, but do you approach doing your best in your marriage with the same enthusiasm? Maybe alternate your reading list, and for every parenting title you pick up, you also read a recommended marriage book. What we think about and focus on greatly influences the decisions we make, especially in the hectic, stressful times. Give your relationship with your husband a little space in your head and good things will happen.