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Monday, March 4

How To Have A Good Marriage: Part 7

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.

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22 Responses

  1. Amanda says:

    After dating my husband for 7+ years (we met at 21) and 3 1/2 years of marriage, I am only now coming around to Guiliana and your perspective. When we first met, my focus was on higher education (the then-boyfriend came second); then, my focus was establishing my career (the hubby again came second); but the older I get, I learn that the “problems” with my career will be there tomorrow, and if I “blow off” yet another drink at the bar or dinner for two together, he might not be.

    Although I have only a house full of cats (no children, but messy nonetheless), I too saw my parents focus all their attention on their five children–never a date night for themselves. In what should be their twilight years, they find they no longer have any common interests and, in fact, can barely spend a few minutes together without an argument.

    When in the past I was in the throes of work and would say “sorry” to a weeknight out with the hubby, I now say, “Absolutely!” We have so many friends who are either divorced at 30 because they no longer have common interests or are desperately filling the void with children to save a sinking ship of denial, so tonight the hubby and I will pour a glass of wine, sit by the fireplace, and enjoy each other’s company.

  2. Kelly says:

    What a great way of putting it. I don’t have children but I do have a habit of not putting my husband first. I always say I want us to work as a team but I haven’t been putting it into practice. Thanks for a shot of common sense. Have been married for 2 years and I love your marriage posts.

  3. What a really fabulous post. I think you’re right. I also think it’s really good for the kids to see us putting our marriage first. Kids tend to think the entire universe revolves around them, so sometimes it’s good when it doesn’t.
    ~FringeGirl

    • KateM says:

      This right here I think is super important. It is a by-product of putting your marriage first, that your children don’t think the world revolves around them, but I think one of the most important lessons for kids to learn. My dad always told us growing up, that my parents objective was to raise good, resposible adults, not to raise happy children. I had an amazing childhood and was happy, but again, I think it is the by-product of a really stong marraige and good parents.

  4. Julie says:

    Fantastic take on that news story today. You’re absolutely right, and I really hope couples can figure this out. It’s not immediate…that’s for sure. But we’re on 8 years with a 7 year old, and we are finally figuring this out. Thank heavens we knew each other for years before we dated, much less married. Otherwise my patience might be thinner, lol ;)

  5. Shybiker says:

    I agree. And I like Giuliana whom I watch on “Fashion Police.”

    This attitude was commonplace back when I was growing up (in the Sixties and Seventies). It was only later that parents started focusing so heavily on their children.

  6. LG says:

    Wonderful advice. We have two school age kids. Housework, work, & life get busy…I tend to put my husband last, but recently I started to schedule date night couple times a month so we could enjoy a show or dinner without kids’ interruptions. It has been wonderful and I wish we could do it weekly.
    As always, thank you for all your posts.

  7. Sanne says:

    Greetings Bethany. I’ve read all your posts about having a happy marriage, and it is like you’ve put words to what I think is the recipe. I truly agree with you, but I still wish we had date nights when son was little, but none of the grandparents were interested in babysitting. Now he is almost 20 and we love our freedom and time together. Have a lovely day. :)

  8. Danielle says:

    Agreed. We are so lucky to have our children, to experience them, to do our best to teach them our best bits… they join us, but it is for a short time that we have the privilege to guide them until they can safely venture out into their life on their own. Then it is the couple once again. Putting a marriage first before all else is essential because it will always be there… from that first spark to that last breath.

  9. Jessica says:

    I soooo love your good marriage posts! There isn’t anyone (I know) out there giving this sort of positive marriage help and you do it fabulously! Thank you for bring up the news story and thank you for sharing your own thoughts. Your posts are incredibly insightful and helpful!

  10. Laura says:

    I really liked how you put it. It’s truly about the mindset you have and it’s not just in marriage but in who you are. Like you said previously, you won’t be interesting to your husband if all you are trying to be is interesting to your husband, the same goes for family life, you can’t be doing just that for it’s own sake. You have to know yourself and develop to be interesting to your husband and the same goes for family life, you have to be seeking for fulfilled life to have a great family life. It really takes a conscious look at life to see what are the things you have to do.

  11. claudine says:

    THANK YOU FOR THIS BEAUTIFUL LIFE LESSON

  12. Now granted, I don’t have children, but even if I did, I sense I’d feel the same way, too. I adore my husband, feel incredibly blessed by the wonderful relationship we share, and have zero qualms with saying that our marriage always comes first and foremost for both of us.

    ♥ Jessica

  13. Kate says:

    Looks like you got your mojo back! I LOVE this post, I am yet to have children so it is easy to put our relationship first at the moment. Perhaps I am not ready for children yet as I often worry about how it will becom harder and harder to put our relationship first… if that makes sense! I think I need to make a little booklet of your marriage posts for when I start getting a little……. scratchy at the little things! They are just too true :)

  14. Janaya says:

    I completely agree! Our society has made it almost criminal to put your marriage above your children, and unfortunately, divorce rates show that. Your dedication to your spouse is a way of showing love for your children in a way that is precious and necessary. Thank you so much for this post <3

  15. Joan says:

    Right On!
    When I was reading your post the quote came to my mind, “The very best thing a man can do for his children is to love their mother”.
    Beautifully written! And I love the fabulous illustrations. Thanks Bethany!

  16. Joan says:

    p.s. and of course the opposite is true, “The very best thing a woman can do for her children is to love their father.”

  17. liz says:

    I have to agree with you as well. Thanks for such a wonderful and insightful post.

  18. Amazing post, thank you. When I was a child, I heard somewhere that you should always put your marriage first above your relationships with children, parents, siblings, friends, or coworkers. After I was newly married, people would ask me when my husband and I would “start a family.” I would always reply that we already had. The two of us were the Elliott family.

  19. Courtney says:

    Love this series! In a bit of struggle ourselves right now. Just wondering what parenting compatibility test you took?

    • The Glamourous Housewife says:

      I think it was something I found online. Or maybe in a magazine. It wasn’t anything super deep and meaningful- just a little fun quiz.

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