Marriage First, Kids Second- Marriage, Unwrapped

Young couple  in bed, toned black and white effect, vignette.

Did you read that title? Cause in America today that is a RADICAL statement. I remember back when I used to watch Oprah and she had on a woman who had declared that she loved her hubby first and her children second. Women went NUTS attacking her as a mother. How dare she put her husband before her kids?

You might not see it as radical, but I am not sure even those of us who believe it are living it. I adore my husband. Since the moment we decided to get married he has been my best friend and my favorite person to hang out with. He still is, but I am not sure my time and focus reflect that.

I remember the weeks after we had our first child. Watching Ryan love and parent our new baby made my heart swell. I remember being amazed that I could love him more than I did before, but I really felt my love for him multiply. Then as time went on that baby wiggled its way into the center of our marriage. She didn’t even have to try to. She just consumed all of our focus. It is a constant battle to keep our house marriage-centered and not child-focused.

The child-focused thing is natural and even ok for a little while. I mean you are the mommy. That baby NEEDS you. Your husband is an adult, fully capable of taking care of himself right? But here’s the deal, your hubby needs you too, and over the long-haul, what your children need most from you is that you is for your marriage to be stable. Let me be clear, I believe all of my children’s needs should be provided for. They should be are shown TONS of love. But the foundation of our households should not be built upon a mother’s love for her children, but should rather be built upon healthy marriages that overflow in love for one another and for the children.

No husband should ever be made to feel like a second class citizen to his children. Husbands shouldn’t have to beg for our attention after we shower all our love and affection on our children. God doesn’t command us to become one with our husband and then when our kids come along become one with them too. My ultimate goal as a parent is to raise an independent child who leaves my house and is able to lead a fulfilling, God-honoring life of her own. At that point, it will be my husband and me left. What kind of marriage can we possibly have if I have ignored and neglected that marriage during the 18+ years I had children in my house?

Our children know that mommy and daddy love them with all of our hearts, but they also know that we need time just for the two of us. We “date” regularly. We get away with just one another. Sometimes they whine and complain when we leave them, but I am modeling marriage to them. I want them to have thriving marriages to spouses who prioritize them as well. Most importantly I want them to grow up in a stable family with parents who delight in each other. As their mother, this is truly one of the best gifts I can give them.

You can find all the Marriage, Unwrapped posts here.


  1. Jessica says:

    AMEN Jill!! Awesome post!

  2. Agree wholeheartedly!!!
    Emily Kay recently posted…Lists and SchedulesMy Profile

  3. Thank you! This is a wonderful, challenging post as we just had our first child and he is wiggling his way into the center of attention. I needed this reminder.
    Betty recently posted…Too MuchMy Profile

  4. Well, I just scheduled an RT of this post, saying I agree 100%. But I think I fall into your category of believe it, but don’t live it much too often. I absolutely think marriage comes first. It’s what my mom always told me about her own beliefs and values, and even though I didn’t like hearing it as a kid (what? I’m not most important??), I’m thankful for the example. This is especially hard for me with Mark’s work schedule, so your post is a challenge to figure out how to make this work despite that.
    Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect recently posted…Monday Morning Mmmm- Snickerdoodle CakeMy Profile

    • You definitely have added challenges, but I love how hard you try to overcome them. It would be easy to get lazy. Your hubby and daughter are lucky to have you :)

  5. Such truth!! Hubby and I went out two nights in a row this week without our kids. First, it was wonderful to be alone with him for 8 hours (in those two days) and second, our kids seemed happier because of it. Since having our girls, we have made it a goal to keep our marriage as the center, since without it our family wouldn’t exist.
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  6. So true. It reminds me of the main focus in the Marriage Fitness program. It is so easy to get lost in those little fingers and toes; kids take up much of our time and energy. Now I am trying to make sure my focus is my husband so my kids can have a good role model for their future relationships.

  7. red24 says:

    What happens if you didn’t follow this great advice and you let things go? Any hope for that? It’s so hard to get those feelings back once they are gone.

    • I do think there is hope for that. I think it takes a lot of effort, time and patience. And a lot of prayer. But worth it.

    • I agree with Sally. The work to climb back is sometimes hard, but so very worth it. I am a big fan of counseling. Hopefully I will have a guest post on that soon. Sometimes you have to act before you feel. So start moving towards your husband again before you might feel the feelings again. make sense? But don’t give up. Your reward is on the other side of this.

  8. Very good! Sometimes I feel pulled in a million directions and it can be hard to remember which one to respond to first. But you’re completely right, our husbands need us too. Thanks for sharing!

  9. LOVE this.

    My husband is my top priority. My #1. & I think it’s healthier for my son to see that rather than think he is the center of our universe.
    Blair@HeirtoBlair recently posted…I’m your biggest fanMy Profile

    • Yes! I just touched on what it does for our marriages, but a child centered household does a diservice to our kids. No one needs to grow up believing they are the center of the universe.

  10. Yup! I remember my parents going out without us (gasp!) and being naughty for the babysitter. But I never remember feeling neglected because they went out without us. And we will do the same! I mean we do now and we’ll continue. It’s just a bit difficult with a nursing baby, but that will change!

    • That is so true. My parents went away on long vacations without us all the time growing up and I can’t remember thinking they were bad parents because of it. Or if I did at the time it certainly didn’t scar me for life. Great perspective.

  11. So good! And, I remember that Oprah… it was pre-children and pre-husband. I thought the lady was a jerk… then I got married and had kids! (reality check, much?!)

    Anyway, this was a great reminder, thank you so much, I love your Marriage, Unwrapped posts!
    Celia recently posted…What Happens on my Play DatesMy Profile

  12. Awesome, awesome post. It’s all so true and so many people don’t realize the gift they give their children is a blue print to a happy life and that life is not, nor will it ever be, totally centered around their needs at the expense of their parents needs. You rock honey.

  13. thank you thank you thank you. love this post and am so thankful for the reminder. i try so hard to keep my hubby in the top priority spot, and sometimes it just gets away from me. i so need this reminder daily. maybe i’ll print this out… =)

  14. To quote Dr. Phil, “The best gift we can give our children is to take care of their parent’s marriage.” I couldn’t agree more. I’m excited my first is about to head off to college with my second three years behind. I can’t wait to see how they turn out. Also can’t wait to just be with my hubby again.

  15. Chris says:

    We’re struggling with this right now. Our baby is 5 months old. We have no family around for regular babysitting… And what we most want time for… Well awkward to have your teenage babysitter come over while you and hubby hang out in the bedroom (I’ve considered it but not done it, too weird)… Hard to keep focused on the connection when you can’t seem to get the stars to align for time for physical closeness.

    • That phase is so hard, but it does get better. But when you are up all night with a baby, ugh. You just want sleep. But you are almost through it. I think things get better around 6-9 months. I think the key is not to get so out of the habit that when the baby begins to sleep you have fallen WAY off the wagon ;)

  16. This is a very important topic that definitely needs to be discussed, not just amongst moms, but dads too. I have seen men do this too, and it is so important that we as parents build our relationships within the marriage as well as within the family. The structure should go

    Everything Else < what we should strive to enjoy only after the rest of our lives are in line
    Children < the blossoming joy and blessing
    Marriage < the intimate partnership that must be nurtured and maintained
    Jesus < the base for all our lives
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