It’s Wednesday, the day when we talk marriage! I introduce a topic, and then you follow up either by commenting or by writing your own post and then linking up! Today I’m going to ask you a hard question:
Are you a better wife or a better mother?
Most of us, I would think, would choose “better mother”. As soon as our kids are born, it is as if our hearts are walking around outside of our chests. We love them so much, and we want to make sure they know that. We don’t want to mess them up. And they’re fragile! So they need our love and attention. Our husbands, who are adults, do not. They should be able to fend for themselves, or at least realize that now there are more important relationships to tend to. The men should adjust.
That’s a common sentiment. And I think it’s wrong.
You cannot be a good mother unless you are first a good wife.
Why? Because the best gift you can give your children is to love their father.
Children from a stable home where parents love each other are more likely to have healthy relationships themselves. They are less likely to use alcohol or drugs as teens. They are less likely to get pregnant before they’re married. They’re more likely to finish school. They’re more likely to hold down a decent job. They’re less likely to commit crimes. And they are far more likely to be happy and emotionally secure.
Putting your marriage first is hard, because we love our kids so much and we want to make sure that they know we love them. And if we say no to them in favor of their dad, it feels wrong, as if we are somehow being selfish by prioritizing the marriage. But we’re not. We’re giving our kids a gift.
Here’s what Nicole said a while ago in the comments:
I think society puts so much stress on being a “good mom” that the focus on being a “good wife” is just lost… think about how many parenting magazines are out there… now think about how many wife magazines are out there. I’m not talking Southern Living or anything like that… I mean “how to be a good Christian wife” type magazines.
I don’t think I ever really knew what I was doing when I was trying to meet my children’s needs and neglecting my husband. I needed a good swift kick in the rear to make me realize it… and that’s what I got.
So how do you know if you’re prioritizing your kids over your husband?
- If you spend your life chauffeuring your kids to extracurricular activities, but have no time or energy to have an occasional date night, or to spend time talking with your husband every night, you may be sacrificing wifehood for motherhood. Your kids don’t need to be involved in everything under the sun, even if they’re gifted at something. They need a solid family.
- If you spend all your energy on your kids, and never take any time to yourself so that you’re exhausted by the end of the day, you’re giving your kids your best instead of your husband. Your children will survive watching a video or two so you can put your feet up during the day and read a book or relax, to help you get in the right frame of mind later.
- If you spend hours trying to get the kids to settle into bed, or if you lay down with them yourself (or get the kids in your bed), so you spend the evening with them, rather than your husband, you may have a problem.
You need time with your husband, even if that means that your children don’t have all of your attention. Even if they whine that you want you, and even if they cry. That’s what kids do! They whine and cry to get what they want, but kids aren’t mature enough to realize that what they really want is two parents who love each other.
I have seen so many marriages that have slowly disintegrated because the kids took all the energy the mom had, and she had little left over for the husband. So many divorces start because the wife spends all her time with the kids, and she crowds her husband out. But it’s not just divorce I’m worried about. Listen to this Frustrated Husband, from a recent email:
Here’s the thing: I know my wife wants to be the best mom she can be. And she is a wonderful mother in many, many ways. But for someone who wants to be the best role model for our sons and daughter, I think she’s giving them an awful blueprint of what marriage is supposed to be like. Our kids don’t understand why either of us would ever want to spend time together separate from them. The kids don’t see any affection between us, and certainly no flirting. (This is baffling to me, because she was very fun, flirty, and affectionate before we got married.)
I asked her if she wanted our children to save themselves for marriage. Yes, of course, she said. It doesn’t matter what we say, they will believe their eyes. They see me sleeping on the couch in the basement. They see her never touching me. They see her uptight and cold. Eventually they will be able to see how sad and lonely I am.
I’m terrified that our boys will grow up thinking, “we better have sex before marriage, because men are only there to be a paycheck/handyman/roommate once you get married.” And I worry that my daughter will go into marriage thinking, “I can neglect my husband forever–that’s what Mom did. It’s normal.”
He’s right. So let me encourage you to ask yourself today: are you a better mom than you are a wife? If so, you could have a problem, because your kids need you to give them a secure foundation. The Bible tells us to prioritize marriage. We are one with our husbands, not with our children. It is marriage that is the primary relationship.
Here’s a bit of a letter that my oldest daughter wrote me last Mother’s Day:
“But that is definitely the thing I admire and respect most about you–your relationship with Daddy.”
When I was writing The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, and I started to get the results of my survey regarding how often women were making love, I decided that I had better see what men thought. And I so I surveyed men, too. The comments on that survey were so sad. One man said:
It is not that my wife’s refusing sex and ignoring me doesn’t bother me. It is just that I have stopped caring.
After years of her putting the kids first, he checked out. I’m not saying he was right to check out; I am just saying that I think it’s a natural reaction. Please, ladies, don’t let that happen to your marriage. Your husband’s needs, and your relationship with him, are vitally important. And if you want to know how to get out of this rut, the book can help! But regardless, please pray through the question: am I sacrificing my marriage for my kids? Because ultimately, your kids don’t want you to.
Now it’s your turn! How do you prioritize your marriage? Or do you have other advice for us? Write your own Wifey Wednesday post that links back to here, and then leave the link of THAT POST in the Linky below. Thanks!