A few days ago Giuliana Rancic (the host of E! News) caused some controversy because she said one of the secrets to her happy marriage was to put her relationship with her husband as number one. That would be number one ahead of her baby (and work, etc). Here are some of her words:
“We’re husband and wife, but we’re also best friends, and it’s funny because a lot of people, when they have kids, they put the baby first, and the marriage second,” says the 37-year-old breast-cancer survivor. “That works for some people. For us, I find, we put our marriage first and our child second, because the best thing we can do for him is have a strong marriage.”
You can read the full article here. According to news sources, there was a “mommy blog backlash” against what she said, though I couldn’t find any actual blog posts decrying her position. Whatever the case may be, I wanted to chime in with my own opinion.
You see, I actually think Giuliana is correct. You should put your (good) marriage first. That means above your kids, above your parents, and above your work. Your marriage is the number one thing that will affect your children and how they form as a person. I have seen parents that put their children first, and they are now divorced. I am actually speaking of my own parents. I love my mom and dad, and they went through years (I’m talking like 7 or more years) of marriage counseling, but they still ended up getting a divorce. Now I was already 20 when they finally pulled the plug on their marriage, so I was basically an adult, therefore it didn’t affect me as much as my younger siblings, but it still affected all of us to one degree or another. Your marriage directly impacts your children, there is no getting around it. In addition, your marriage is the most important relationship in your life! Yes, your relationship with your children is essential, but if you are a normal person (ie: not abusive to your kids or anything) then your kids have to love you. Your spouse chooses to love you. Therein lies the difference.
When you and your husband commit to a life together, that means you should both put your marriage first. You are creating a team. Having kids will be the one action that creates the most consequences within that team and you should be prepared for your whole life to change. I know in my marriage the thing we fight about most is the kids. It took us years to learn how to team parent, years I wish I had put our teamwork and not my individual ego before our kids. See, even though I agree with Giuliana, I can’t say I am very good at heeding my own advice. It is really hard to put your marriage first when you have kids bugging you all day. It is like the last thing you need is someone else bothering you. But that is absolutely the wrong attitude to have.
I was raised by parents that put the kids first, so that is what I was used to. Once I realized that it wasn’t working and my marriage might be in trouble, I started to change. It has been a slow process, but a rewarding one. We now try to find “alone” time together as often as possible. We still don’t have a weekly date night, but we usually go out at least twice a month. And we consider going out with other couples the same as a date night. Basically any time the kids aren’t around is “date night” even if we are meeting for a lunch. We try to work as a team when it comes to the kids, instead of individually parenting our brood. To be fair, a lot of it was just learning how the other spouse parents- which is something you can’t really know until you have kids, and by then it is too late to switch partners! LOL! We even took a parenting test before we got married to see if we were compatible and according to the test, we were. Well it turns out I am much stricter than he is. My main goal is discipline, and his main goal is serenity. It took us about 8 years before we were able to get rid of our preconceived goals and and come together to agree that our main objective in raising our kids was to teach them how to be amazing adults. That isn’t to say we don’t have our squabbles, but they are farther and further in between then they were for the first 8 years of having kids together.
Another way we put our marriage first is neither of us identify solely as parents. I consider myself a blogger and all around fabulous woman, and then a mother. My husband identifies as a furniture builder and business man and then as a kick-ass dad. To this day I think my mom identifies first as a mother. I am not saying there is anything wrong with that, but it did cause some great angst when all her kids flew the nest. They don’t call it “empty nest syndrome” for nothing. When your whole identity is wrapped around your children, there is no way you can put your marriage first.
As I mentioned before, your relationship with your husband is the number one most influential aspect of your kids lives, so it only makes sense to put it and your teamwork together first. And trust me, your kids will thank you for it. By working as a team you will be the ultimate role models for your children, and they will learn from your interaction with one another. So if you aren’t already doing so, give yourself permission to put your marriage first. It is the right thing to do.