This is, I imagine, quite a controversial subject.
People like to think that their children are their existence. And to an extent I agree. Yes I live for my kids, in the sense that I want everything for them. I work to give them as much as I can. I try to be the best mother I can be so that I prepare them properly for the big bad world. I would not be without them.
Let me repeat that in case the message gets lost in the next few paragraphs.
I would not be without them. Period.
But I am not ashamed to admit that I actually live for my husband more than my kids.
Go ahead. Judge me if you dare.
Actually having a good strong relationship IS good for your kids. It provides security and demonstrates how a loving, respectful partnership should be. We live by the example that we hope our kids will live by one day.
Even though it occasionally grosses them out, we know our kids actually love the fact that we still love each other.
Princess often says “Daddy, kiss Mummy” and then she watches gleefully and smooshes our faces together.
Better than that though, and we take such joy in this, is when we realise that the boys are watching so we over dramatically kiss very noisily while they exclaim “ewww gross!”
But they’re laughing and smiling and not grossed out at all. It is a security blanket for them. Mum and Dad are ok. Our family is ok.
I am sure that no couple ever sets out to achieve a child-centered marriage. But life happens. And motherguilt sets in. And we start to question whether we are doing enough for our kids. So we do more. And more. And we devote all our time and energy to ensuring that they are educated, and well-rounded, and healthy and happy and balanced. And we tend to think that prioritising our children is the ‘right’ thing to do. We will have time for ourselves and our husband/wife later, but later never comes.
Or when it does it’s too late.
When parents are so focused on their children it stands to reason that they don’t have the time or energy to focus on each other. To be a couple. A partnership. It’s so easy to forget that you chose each other in the beginning. It’s so easy to forget that you chose each other for a reason, and that reason wasn’t the kids.
When you pour so much of your attention and energy into your children rather than your spouse, the balance of power is distorted. Your kids grow up thinking that they are the center of the universe, because you have fostered that belief, you have treated them that way.
When you make your marriage a priority, when you stop for 5 minutes to actually think about it, it’s not really that difficult. You just make time for each other. You send text messages throughout the day, you make a couple of brief phone calls. You send the kids to bed at a reasonable time so that you have the opportunity for ‘adult time’ each and every day. When the kids want to talk to you and you’re in the midst of talking to your spouse, it’s ok to say ‘Wait your turn, I’m talking to Daddy”. Organise a babysitter once in a while and go out for dinner. When you’re at dinner you don’t discuss kids, or parent teacher interviews, or soccer training. It doesn’t make you a bad parent, in fact I would argue that it makes you a damn good parent.
My husband is the centre of my universe and I will not apologise for that. When my kids are all grown and out in the world my husband will still be the centre of my universe. And I hope that they will have learned to recognise real love, and real commitment, and real respect when they see it. I hope that our example will show them that they do not need to settle for anything less than absolute commitment and absolute love.