When it comes to parenting, the proverbial chicken or the egg dilemma is who should come first — your children or significant other?
"How many of you make your marriage a priority over everything else other than God?" asks Circle of Moms member Shelly B. "I'm talking before your children or your job, whether it be at home or you go out of the house to work."
K.R. similarly wonders, "Spouse or children, who comes first?" She explains: "By no means do I mean the children get neglected or ignored or mistreated or anything like that. Just curious as to who is 'first' and who is 'second.'"
Partners Should Come First
As it turns out, Circle of Moms members overwhelming agree that your partner should take priority over your children. "Children find comfort and security in their parents' healthy relationship," explains a member named "Good Day!" So, that relationship has to be nurtured.
Brenda B. agrees, saying she puts her husband before her three children. Consequently, she puts her children to bed promptly at 8 p.m. so that she and her husband can have time together. “We have tried to keep one date a week, even if it was just enjoying a movie together after the kids went to bed,” she shares. "The reward: Our children know that their parents are in love with each other and because of that they know that they are loved too!"
Similarly, Joanna L. sets 7 p.m. as the time she shifts her thinking from her children to her husband. "Obviously, there are nights that just doesn't happen, but for 90 percent of the time that works for us."
Olwen, on the other hand, says she doesn’t sacrifice anything with her husband for her daughter. "We believe that if we don't have a strong and connected relationship, then our daughter will suffer in the long run," she shares. "She fits into our life, not the other way around."
It's Instinct to Put Children First
However, such sentiments seem to contradict natural instincts, says Chantell A. "In the animal world, mothers go all out for their young. I think it's natural to put them first, and I wouldn't fight it," she advises, explaining that she believes it's invaluable that children feel nurtured and confident because they will pass that on to their own children.
Alma M. admits that it doesn’t feel right picking her husband over her child. "Right now, my children are all young, so it’s difficult to think that anyone/anything could be more important than them," she says.
Roxanne C. likens the situation to a matter of survival. "Push your husband out into the world and he can make it on his own, can protect himself, [and] take care of himself, just like he does every day. He has a moral compass that is already formed and he is his own person, with or without you," she says.
On the other hand, she conents, "Your children, for the most part, are defenseless against the world without you. They need your constant love, guidance, and protection. They cannot take care of themselves. They cannot purchase their own groceries and clothes. They cannot provide a home and stability for themselves like you can for them. They need you to love them, care for them, and help them learn everything there is to know about life so that they may one day venture out and form a family of their own."
It’s not surprising when a “mother’s instinct makes us choose our children over everything because we love them more than life itself," says Sandra D. Nevertheless, she adds: "As mothers, we should also remember to connect with ourselves and not to get lost, and have date night with our spouses to make sure we are on the same page.”
A Strong Marriage is Good for the Kids
Speaking from experience, Teresa cautions that moms can damage relationships when they don’t put their spouses first. She notes that in her first relationship, she ignored her significant other and wound up a single parent. "I plan on trying to do things right the second time around . . . if I get that chance," she says.
"[It's not about] putting your child over your spouse or your spouse over your child,” Teresa continues. "It's putting your marriage (relationship) first for your child. If my ex and I had both been able to do that, then our kids would have both parents fully involved in their lives instead of the mess we're all trying to survive now. By putting your marriage first, you are putting your kids first."
Krista E. has similar sentiments. “I don’t think it’s healthy to always put your spouse second,” she says. “Your kids will be moved out by the time they’re 18 or so — but you’re with your spouse for the rest of your life.” This isn’t to say you should neglect your baby’s basic needs, she explains, because after all a baby can’t fix his own supper.
When parents have trouble putting their partners over their children, Charlie P. suggests they look at the situation as she does: "My fiance comes first, and as a parenting team, our children are our No. 1 priority," she says. "It's important for mother and father to be in a happy, healthy, and united relationship — not only for us, but for the children. They will model their relationships on what they live and learn from us. I want them to learn that a couple should love and respect each other, that as a parenting team it is our job to love, nurture and provide for our child. Together, we are a stronger, more supportive team, and that is a huge benefit to our children.”
Because in the end, if the marriage is happy, then the child will be happy, says Josia D. If you keep each other as the priority and keep communicating with your significant other, then providing for your children’s needs will just fall into place.
And of course, when choosing priorities remember to make some time for yourself, too, reminds Maheen R. "A happy mom equals a happy household," she concludes.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.