Wifey Wednesday: Are You A Better Wife or a Better Mom?

wifey wednesday

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 Mom?

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:

Becca Letter

“But that is definitely the thing I admire and respect most about you–your relationship with Daddy.”

Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex

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When I was writing The Good Girls 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!



Comments

  1. I have three sons. I love them to pieces and made sure they knew I loved them to pieces. At the same time, they knew I loved Dad to pieces and he was the man of the house and my life. I was a stay at home mom and my husband worked many hours a day. When he came home, he ruled. Whatever Dad wanted he got. He got the first meal served to him, he got first dibs on everything. It was always Dad getting spoiled. We hugged and kissed in front of them and we hugged and kissed them. My kids kissed their dad on the lips until they were in their teens. Most might think that is odd, but that is what they saw so it was normal to them. Even today, my boys never leave or hang up the phone without saying, “Bye, I love you!”

    • It sounds like you set a great tone for the house, Shelly. I’m sure your boys will make great husbands one day!

    • Lonesome George says:

      @Shelly: Your husband and sons are very lucky to have you!

      @Sheila: This was another excellent post – thanks!

  2. I used to be a much better mom than wife. Now, I realize that my relationship with my husband is second only to my relationship to God. My kids will benefit so much more by my healthy relationship their their Daddy than they would anything else.
    Megan Elzey recently posted…StickersMy Profile

  3. Thanks for this, Sheila! I totally agree, but man, this is hard to latch onto in our modern world. Honestly, this is one of the main reasons I am so happy I get to be a stay-at-home-mom — if I were working all day long and then had to come and take care of the family, I don’t know how I would have any time or energy for my husband. I’m sure I would prioritize my kids over my husband because after all, they are the squeaky wheels. :-) Thanks for the reminder!
    Lauren recently posted…{Did I Pin a Win?} Peach Crunch Cake from BakerellaMy Profile

  4. Um, how about neither? I feel like I’m constantly failing at both. I don’t know how to be everything that everybody needs me to be. I know you’re right, that it’s important to be a good wife to set a good example for the kids, but sometimes I feel like I just don’t have it in me to be good enough for anybody.

    • Oh, Amy, I hear you! Let’s try this: don’t see it as a pass/fail thing. When you set yourself up like that, you’re bound to fail. None of us can ever be perfect, and we shouldn’t expect perfection out of ourselves. I have yelled at my kids; I’ve been mean to my husband; I’ve been horrible many, many times. But the beautiful thing about family is that you have a lifetime with your loved ones. So don’t measure your success based on how you did this hour, or this day. That gets you so bogged down! Look at the big picture. When you make mistakes, apologize and move on, because those little things are not who you are. It’s the big picture that’s important.

      So just take baby steps towards who you want to be, and don’t worry if you’re not perfect yet. Really. Family is there for giving grace, not for always judging!

  5. Thank you for saying this so bluntly, yet so lovingly. Many many mothers need to hear this. We are one with our spouses, not our children. It comes natural to love our children despite what they do…the harder but most important role is to love our spouses no matter what too and to show it.
    Jennifer Travis recently posted…Handle with CareMy Profile

  6. I used to be a better mom than wife when the kids were little. As they grew, I learned how to fix that. It does take time.

    On another note, I want to thank you for the “speaking” advise on this website. I’ve learned a lot and God is taking me to new heights. I have a home-based jewelry business and am taking it on the road combining it with speaking. This is so much fun!

    Please visit me:
    Everything Beautiful ~ Jewelry by Janet Powers
    http://www.janetpowers1.etsy.com

    Blessings to you,

    Janet

    Twitter: @janetsathome

  7. What wonderful information you are sharing on your blog. This generation needs good leadership. I remember when my daughter was about 5 I started to let her know I could get married.

    Hearing stories from friends about their parents being single and then not one day out of no where just sounded so wrong to me. I wanted my daughter to be more aware that our lives could change.

    The next time she saw my mother she told her “Gramma my mom and I are getting married.” My mother laughed a very grown up laugh.

    I knew Mom was thinking about her role as a wife that was very separate from how I saw her as a mom growing up. Raising a child by myself I see what my daughter is missing that I had being raised in a two parent home.
    SingleMamma4God recently posted…Restoring an Overdue DebtorMy Profile

  8. I stumbled upon your blog quite by accident during the 29 Days to Great Sex and I just have to thank you. I think that it is high time that we get called out on the way we are treating or husbands and the effect that has on the big picture. Kudos to you!

    My husband and I are coming up on our 10 year anniversary this spring and I can say that we have already endured many phases in our marriage. We’ve been the “roommates with benefits” as well as the “red hot lovers”. It’s hard to maintain the relationship at times.

    We have three kids. Two of them are twins who were born more than three months too early. They were in the hospital for months and came home with all sorts of demands that were unique to their situation. One thing that stands out to me in that time is how much I saw my husband putting me first. When I felt like I was too busy, didn’t have time to stay afloat, he hired cleaners to maintain the house, took time off of work so I could go to therapy for a while and did everything he could to help me out. At the time, I appreciated it, but it wasn’t until looking back on it that I saw just how much he spoke love to me and how much that strengthened my feeling of us being on the same team. It was easily the hardest time in our marriage- we fought all the time; we were too tired to remain calm. But, he clearly put our marriage and my well being first. I wish I could say the same for myself in that time.

    Point being, I think that when we put our spouse ahead of our children and of ourselves, even if the impact isn’t seen right away, I think it is lasting. Now that my kids are all old enough to wait and are no longer high-need (medically), I try to think of what kind of relationship I want for my kids when they marry. Do I want them to feel slave to the children, lose themselves and their relationships, or do I want to show them balance. They know I love them- I tell them all the time. But they also know that I can’t *always* be their everything. I think that’s healthy. I hope that when they are grown, they will expect from the example that we give them that marriage is about coming together and being a team.

    If nothing else, I try to remind myself that kids who play independantly turn out to be better problem solvers, better workers and generally smarter. I am helping them be better people when I “ignore” them for my husband. And, as an added bonus, I speak love to my husband :)

    • So true, Dana! And kudos to your husband for being there when the kids were so little, too. I’ve had a child in intensive care, and I know how stressful that is. If you lose your marriage in the middle of it, it’s even worse! I think you’re setting a great example for your kids, and you’re right: teaching them to be a little independent is a good thing.

  9. I’m not a mom, and really never want to be (yes, I think kids are a bit annoying – in small doses on good days they can be cute, though), so when I say this exact thing to moms that I know, they get super defensive. It really is the prevailing mindset that you’re supposed to neglect your marriage in favor of your kids. It’s ridiculous, the percentage of moms who cosleep – I know one girl whose son is 3, and she still cosleeps. That’s not healthy. These women insist that their marriages aren’t suffering, but as you said, from their husbands you’ll get a different story.
    Jen recently posted…raised the eyes with their slight castMy Profile

    • We had a preacher that pushed for newlyweds to have kids as soon as possible. It was ridiculous! I have told my children to enjoy being married and each other. Get to know each other and grow more in love, then if you want to have kids, go ahead. I am not in any hurry for grandchildren. I don’t see why people push for newly marrieds to have kids. Needless to say, we are no longer members there!

      • Shelly, we had three years before kids came, and if we hadn’t have had that, I’m not sure we would have worked through our marriage problems! A lot, though, depends on your age at marriage. When you get married in your early 30s, you really have to start a family pretty quickly if you want a few kids.

      • Exactly! I think it’s important to work through any marital issues you might have, and as you said, get to know each other, enjoy each other, grow more in love, before you make the leap to having kids. And definitely, definitely work out beforehand how you’re going to keep your marriage the main priority! When we renewed our car tags the other day, the woman helping us was 39 and had a 1 year old son. She said she and her husband are so glad that they waited, because they had a chance to have time for themselves and their marriage first. That’s what I think may happen with my husband and me, if we have kids – we’re not ready for them now, that’s for sure! I want us to have our act together before we bring a child into our lives.
        Jen recently posted…raised the eyes with their slight castMy Profile

  10. Not many comments above actually answer your question of “how do you prioritize your marriage?” so I’m going to attempt to answer that. My husband and I both work full-time — he works 2nd shift and I work 1st shift. Therefore, we see eachother on weekends or 2 days during the week if he has to work a weekend. We do this so that we can continue to home school our daughters, ages 10 and 13. I recently found very helpful information on this website as well as others on how to improve our love life so we make love nearly everything night that he is home with me, or we have at least a quicky. I show my children that time with their Daddy is important to me by sending them to the bedroom a little early when he’s home. That way we can either talk or watch TV together or retire to our own room. They see that I leave him notes, too, since our communication throughout the week is limited. I don’t know if they’ve actually picked up on it, but I also prepare nicer meals when he’s joining us. We kiss and hug in front of them — something they pretend grosses them out! — but I answer that with, “would you rather I be hitting or yelling at him? Of course not!” Co-sleeping has never been allowed in our home, from day one, unless they were babies and needed some extra attention during a sickness — therefore, maybe 1-2 nights out of their whole lives. We go on dates as often as the budget allows, too. They also know that I will pass any of their questions that require any degree of a decision by their Daddy before giving an answer. This frustrates them sometimes but still sends a message that he’s the boss and I respect him. The Lord has blessed us with a very peaceful home where we’re all the most happy when we’re cuddled up on the couch watching a movie together. Praise the Lord!!

    • Becky, it sounds like your house would be a fun one to grow up in! And I do think kids are always happier when they know their parents love each other.

  11. The picture that you have painted is so true, Sheila.

    From a seventy-year-old man in our church housegroup, “After she’d had the children she wanted, my first wife just shut me out. I was working away all the time, and I had no reason to go home so we drifted apart.” When we were talking about marriage in general at housegroup, a sixty-year-old woman was horrified when I asked her what she thought the Bible had to say about marriage. She thought nothing much beyond “Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church”, but was shocked when I suggested that she and her husband, who was also present, go off and read 1 Corinthians Chapter 7 together, on their own, and see how they felt after putting its instruction into practice. I had been tempted to suggest that they try to work practical examples from Song of Songs, but I was afraid that they might end up in Accident and Emergency at the local hospital if they took me seriously. When you ask the women who come to church without their husbands about their families, the always talk about their children and rarely mention their husbands. I wonder why is that.

    From a fifty-year-old non-Christian man in the local pub “Q: What one thing does a woman eat that causes her to lose her libido? A: Wedding cake.” He was astounded when I told him that he needed to get himself into reading the Bible with his wife and suggested that he, too could read 1 Corinthians 7 and Song of Songs. He hasn’t, and I don’t think he believes me when I tell him what the Bible does say about keeping the marriage flame alive.

    There was a longitudinal study of “bright” children in the US started in the 1920′s, I think by an academic called Lewis, and several others continued with his study after his death. I seem to recall that one of the findings was that divorce of parents caused a reduced life expectancy of around 5 years, even after correcting for all the other factors such as poorer economic situation that a divorced family were likely to have when compared to their peers. However, the findings related to children who would now be in their eighties and nineties. I wonder if the comparative information is around for those of the baby boomer generation who would now be in their fifties and sixties? If it were still true, would publicising this statistic help those who see themselves primarily as parents and not as spouses encourage them to work at their marriage?

    My wife and I nearly became a divorce statistic and the reason for that was twofold. We both speak different primary love languages, and being parents and workers was squeezing out the time for being husband and wife. Fortunately we looked into the abyss, and decided we did not want to go there and have worked hard to get well back from the edge. We did get help from our church, but only because we asked for help. I wonder why churches generally do not pronounce more openly and honestly on what we need to do in marriage to keep the love alive. But it requires (and yes, I do mean to use the present tense) a major investment of time and emotion to keep the flame of love burning in both our eyes.

    • ButterflyWings says:

      Agree totally except the part about women who come to church without their husbands. For years I went through that, and I don’t think it’s because women are putting their kids first. I think deep down there is a shame that the husband has turned his back on God and are scared if they talk about their husbands, that people will grill them about why their husbands aren’t at church and they neither want to say anything negative about their husbands but can’t find a way to ignore the constant questions about where he is without saying something that may come out sounding negative. The old adage “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”. I think it’s a way they are trying to protect their husbands rather than put their kids first.

  12. Before I read any other comments, I just want to say I completely agree with you. I’m sure that for several years both my husband and I put our kids before each other. Thankfully, as the kids got older we started finding time to put each other first more often. This became easier and more natural, and I thank God we still had a marriage and friendship that allowed for this. I have a friend whose husband puts their daughter first all the time, and it became a two against one situation she could no longer handle. She has left him and it is the saddest thing. People do drift apart, lose touch and ultimately lose the marriage. I have no less than ten friends/neighbors/acquaintances divorcing right now–all in their 40s and 50s.

    When I spend quiet time with my husband each day, I often think of the most wonderful book on a most wonderful marriage–Madeline L’Engle’s book, Two-Part Invention, about herself and her husband Hugh. I read it before I was married and am so glad I did. I remember she talked about having a “cocktail” time every afternoon for 30 minutes, with only her husband and no children. I have long thought that the loveliest idea. Sometimes it’s a cup of tea or coffee, or a glass of wine or a cocktail, but most days my husband and I do fit this in after he comes home, even when he is so busy with work. It is one of the highlights of our day.
    LisaZ recently posted…Raising TeenagersMy Profile

  13. you know – this has been bugging me. i see so many women running themselves ragged over their children and the children are totally unappreciative and have a warped expectation that this is how it should be. it really bothers me – and anytime i catch myself going in this direction, i stop myself. (this is definitely an upcoming blog post for me).
    nylse recently posted…Conversations…My Profile

  14. I love this post! Thank you so much for the reminder to put my husband first. It’s so tempting with little kids to just give him leftovers. But he deserves more. What a great reminder:)

  15. Former “Better Mom” here… after numberous swift kicks in the rear, I have learned the importance of being a wife first and a mom second. Being a better mom is much easier when you are a better wife first!!!
    Nicole recently posted…Mom vs. WifeMy Profile

  16. Great post and so true. As a home school mom of 23 years and mother of six, it is just tooooooooo easy to give your energy and time to your children and think one day I will take hubby off the back burner. We have now been married 32 years and still raising a six year old and that temporary time can be longer than you think….husband first, children second. Besides how will you know each other when they fly the nest…as four of mine already have?

  17. Now that my kids are in college and I’m seeing how ineffective many of my efforts at “helping” and “supporting” them have actually been, I’d love to have a lot of that time and energy back again. I’d invest it in my marriage instead of my kids in a heartbeat!
    Cheri Gregory recently posted…Recharge Your Marriage: The PURSE-onality ChallengeMy Profile

  18. This is an amazing post. I’m definitely prayerfully considering if I am doing this to ANY degree. I remember when I was married to my ex-husband my former Pastor told me that I needed to remember that one day those kids would be grown and gone. We are raising them to LEAVE. And how true that if we do not portray the example of what Christ intends for marriage and family that they will one day leave and REPEAT!

    He said we are to leave and cleave to our spouse. No where does the Bible say to cleave to your children. LOVE this post and LOVE the letter from your daughter.
    Rena Gunther recently posted…R-e-s-p-e-c-tMy Profile

  19. we are going through a period where this is SO HARD. High risk pregnancy with many, many, many Dr. appointments, two small children who still rely on parents for SO MUCH, and another on the way. A home based business that requires a lot of attention when the kiddos are sleeping, home improvement project taking almost all of hubby’s non-work time. Any suggestions for getting through periods like this without neglecting the hubby? I know it is only temporary, as baby will soon be here, tax bill will (somehow) be paid, and the floors will eventually be finished. But then adding a newborn is not going to help either. I have felt that hubby is getting the “leftovers” for a while, but I honestly truly do not have the strength to do much more with all that is going on, and it feels there is little that can be “let go” at this time.
    Nicole recently posted…Hooooooop It!My Profile

    • although I should add, right now, I don’t feel like I am doing very good in the Mommy role either. It is very much survival mode.
      Nicole recently posted…Hooooooop It!My Profile

    • Nicole, I think there are periods in your life when it is just survival mode! I think if you both understand that, that’s great! But I would try to, even in the chaos, carve out some time that’s just for the two of you. Maybe you put the kids in the car seat and you drive around for 20 minutes just to talk. Or you put them in strollers and you walk. Or you just grab some time, even just 15-20 minutes, everyday, to connect. Taking that little bit of time will help both of you feel more energized, because you know you’ll be putting first things first. And when you feel like you’re connecting, you’ll have more energy for the rest of life!

  20. Berjiboo says:

    Things that I try to do to show the kids Daddy is important:
    serve him dinner first,
    kiss him when he leaves, getting ready in the day starts with helping him get off to work on time,
    not letting kids interrupt our conversation (when it isn’t immediately necessary),
    telling the kids how hard he works to provide for them,
    kiss him, hug him, hold his hand,
    go on dates or tell the kids that “mommy and daddy need to spend some time together”
    spend time together!
    laugh together

  21. Amen! I’m so glad you covered this. So many women feel that they have to be mother first, that putting anything other than their children first is a sin or disgusting violation of societal acceptable behavior. Often, not only are they neglecting their husbands, but themselves as well. Their entire identity becomes wrapped up in their children and they completely lose themselves. I think it’s important that we encourage one another to take care of our marriages and ourselves. More women need to say doing that is OKAY!

    I talked about this very topic (with a littly snarkiness mixed in) a few months ago on my blog:
    http://pattiland.wordpress.com/2011/12/11/screw-the-kids/

  22. I’m definitely a better wife than a mother. I feel guilty sometimes bcz I don’t feel like a very good mother, but I do work a lot (read a lot of blogs) on marriage and try to pray for my husband etc.

  23. hippie4ever says:

    God, Family (Spouse, children) Country- that is what I was taught.

    I can’t imagine putting my husband second, he is the love of my life. I tell him all the time and try to show him by: making and buying the foods he likes (including a great Pinot Noir or Zinfandel), physically showing him, dressing for him, respecting him and teaching our son to respect him, and encouraging him. TIME, though, is a big problem right now-due to differing schedules. I am praying about that, I miss him :)

  24. Sheila,
    Your post is spot on! Hopefully many Christian women will realize this! The kids will eventually leave the home…..and sadly, so may the husband. :(
    I’m a much better wife than a mom, but a great marriage takes work and I’m very intentional.
    Blessings to you,
    ~jolene
    The Alabaster Jar recently posted…After 14 Years, I Still Can’t Fit into My Wedding DressMy Profile

  25. Great post! I’m so glad to have found your blog. I have lately been trying to focus my thoughts on taking just as good of care of my husband as I do for our son. Especially since he is coming home soon from deployment I really need to switch gears! Thanks for this post! I look forward to reading more from you!
    Jessi recently posted…Let’s Be honest #4 And a winner!My Profile

  26. I just found your blog (off Pinterest!!!) and I’m so glad I did. You really put things into perspective. I think I have the working mom guilt so bad that it’s taken over where I’m so much more concerned with being a “good mom” rather than focusing on being a “good wife” which , as you pointed out, is so important. Thanks for all the advice, which I’m really taking to heart :)

    • Welcome, Roxanne! I think you’re in the norm here–most people have found me through Pinterest! Gotta love Pinterest. And I’m glad I could help!

  27. I’m a fairly new mom (I have a 2 year old and another baby on the way) so I’m still working every day to figure out how to prioritize my marriage. I always try to see things with a long-term perspective, and even before we had children I knew I didn’t want us to fall into the trap of the last kid growing up and moving out, and my husband and I turning to each other and saying “Uh…hi? Who are you?” So I’ve always been very aware of that and so is my husband.

    Something we’re working on is demonstrating how much we value our relationship within the four walls of our home, not just by shuttling the kiddo off to a babysitter and going on a date. Sometimes it’s little things, like my husband always makes it a point to kiss me first when he gets home after work, and I try to at least have my hair done decently and be wearing actual clothing instead of grubbies. The big thing is spending time face-to-face connecting through conversation instead of just copping out by reaching for the TV remote every evening. It’s not always easy to get started – we’re both tired and ready to wind down! But when we spend some time in conversation in the evenings we go to bed really refreshed and we sleep better. And, when we feel emotionally connected by talking, we have sex more often. ;-) Nice little extra benefit.
    Melissa recently posted…A Baby ShowerMy Profile

    • Melissa, that’s awesome! And I’m totally with you with the “make myself a little pretty” before he comes home. It just sets a better tone for everything.

  28. Thanks for the great reminder! Your blog has been such an amazing encouragement to me in my marriage! My husband and I love reading your posts together. Blessings
    Michelle recently posted…The ChallengeMy Profile

    • That’s so wonderful that you read them together! I’m glad to know I’m small part of God’s work in helping marriages.

  29. Hi guys,

    Here’s what works here. Of course there are different seasons and different things in each.

    We have a weekly date night whether out or at home. He brings in a meal and I make a beverage. We have six children but are waiting on our sevenths arrival. They can play outside, watch a movie, read. They can’t disturb us unless there is life, limb, or loss of property involved. :)

    I make enough breakfast for both of us and we eat together before he goes to work. The kids and I push his car out for him. We run out when daddy gets home. One goal I have is to consistently having a snack or drink waiting for him when he gets home…….but that is still a work in progress.

    We have mr and mrs tea mugs for tea time on the front porch.

    We go for walks together, shower together, talk together. We send each other texts. I’ve kept a wet marker to write messages on the mirror in the bathroom. We’ve decorated his car for valentines day.

    Anytime I can plan a special time together I do. Even if the kids are with us I try to get a special tea or coffee for us to enjoy. If we are in town, we drop a snack by at our business.

    I try to write him a love note every week.

    Its also lots of little things. I try to ask his opinion on things. I’ve learned how to fold the laundry how he likes and teach the kids to do it!! Keeping the snacks he likes and not serving food that he doesn’t care for at dinner. Having a united front with kids is so important. I try to ask them if they have talked to their dad first. What he says goes. If he calls during the day I stop what I am doing to talk to him. I try not to have a complaining spirit when he gets home. I also try to look pretty and smell good when he gets home. I also try to clean the kids up. The boys are a harder sell on that one but the girls love being pretty for daddy. I try to have the house smell nice and soft music playing.

    It is truly the little foxes that spoil the grapes. I am learning to watch for the little things that need rooted out. Just making sure that my spirit is grateful and kind. Accomplishing his priorities first. Not leaving a kind deed undone.

    I am still learning but the journey is so much sweeter when you are yoked with your best friend!!

    Thank you for your great articles and work Shelia!! They have blessed us tremendously.

    Mary

  30. I don’t have kids yet…so i haven’t lived through certain realities yet.

    Just want to thank you for this – it’s an awesome reminder and affirmation about where priorities should lie. There is such incredible pressure to be the greatest mum (after the kids), and less emphasis on being the greatest wife. i feel affirmed in the choice i have made, pre-kids :)

    Love your take, as always.
    Ngina Otiende recently posted…6 Ways That Singleness Rocks!My Profile

  31. Wow, this article is so true. While I don’t have children yet I think back to my own childhood and my own view of my parent’s marriage and the lessons I have learned in life about relationships and marriage all came from them. I never thought of it like this, but my mother ALWAYS put her marriage first and there is NOTHING wrong with it. My brother and I were loved and cared for and we’ve both grown up to be functioning adults in loving relationships all thanks to them. My goal in life has always been to replicate the loving relationship my parents showed me day in and day out. I think I just found the piece of the puzzle to ensure that I can continue to nurture my marriage after we have children. Not to mention perfect timing as we are trying! :) Thank you for putting into words what I’ve been trying to put my finger on for years as the key to making my husband feel loved and important above all things.
    Nicole recently posted…Sealed StrengthMy Profile

  32. Tiffany says:

    I stumbled upon your blog through Pinterest. Thank you for all the great tips! I do believe I am a better wife than mom, possibly only marginally, and only because I feel like I’m a shitty mom. My kids are 3 and almost 5 and I am not a patient person. They annoy the shit out of me and I do a lot of yelling. My husband is my best friend and we were together for 9 years before we had kids. I believe this time strengthened our bond, but I think it also made it more difficult for us to adjust to having to share our “selfish” lives with children. It’s a turn-off to my husband when he sees me yelling at the kids. Dealing with their whining, crying, asking for stuff all day long makes me bitchy. I try to make my husband the priority, but I don’t know how much of it he wants! I am going to start implimenting the tips on here to do special things for my husband. Making myself pretty for him (or at least keeping my legs shaved ; P), making sure there’s always beer in the fridge, cooking a nice meal, kissing him, scratching his back (I used to log hours of back-scratching before we had kids–it’s his favourite indulgence!), telling him he’s sexy. Maybe, just maybe, if I can get a little more sex, I’ll be a more patient mom!

  33. I had to remarry to find the wife that truly loved me, respected me and appreciated me. My first wife was only concerned more so for the kid’s well being. Their food, meals, cloths, school, and I checked out. Although I have a new happy family, I can see that the children from my first marriage are still having difficulty coping without me there everyday. I love my other children so much, but ultimately my two children with my second wife will experience their dad more.

  34. This is a great post! But I’m in a bit of a situation… I have a 10 year old daughter from a previous marriage and now have a very loving and caring relationship with someone else. How do I prioritize my new relationship without making my daughter feel like I am choosing him over her? She is the only child between the both of us so when her friends are not around, she always wants to be around us. She wants to be in every conversation and if we dont include her, she says she feels left out. Well sometimes a 10 year old can’t be a part of every convo but I dont know how to have my relationship with him without hurting her feelings. The last thing I want is for her to resent him because she feels like he is taking me away from her. Please help. Thank you!

    • ButterflyWings says:

      Amanda I understand how you feel. I have an 11 year old daughter from my first marriage and is the only (born) child between my second husband and I. I don’t know how much her father is involved in her life, but I have found it has helped for my husband to become a father figure to my daughter. She has never felt like she has to monopolise my attention away from him – because I am mum and he is dad-like-figure. The only playing off against each other she does is the same as any normal child that age would do between their biological parents when their biological parents are together.

      Part of it was introducing him into our lives slowly. We had a long distance relationship, and as frustrating as that was at times, it really helped all of us – helped me to recover my abusive exhusband, helped my husband to adjust to being in a relationship at all and having someone in his life he had to think about (I was his first girlfriend and he has lived a very independent life) and for my daughter it helped to slowly introduce someone into her life.

      Part of is not changing how much time I spend with her, in fact since we’ve been married, I’ve actually been able to enjoy more time with her not less. Before I got married, I was juggling being a single mum forced to work to receive any government assistance (the cruel thing they do to single mothers here), and I also made sure I had a little bit of time each week to connect with friends while my daughter spent time connecting with her friends to introduce her to the healthy practice of one person cannot be your entire support network. Mainly because I’ve seen too many teenage girls go through the whole having one best friend and no others and being shattered if they lose that friendship, or growing up into adults in unhealthy (usually abusive) relationships where their partner is their only contact, cutting themselves off from friends and family. Our spouse needs to be our number one human priority, but it’s also healthy to over people in our lives, including supportive friends and strong christian mentors.

      You haven’t said if you’re married and/or if you live together. The way things are worded it sounds like you’re not married but do live together? Can I strongly suggest getting married? Not just from a moral viewpoint, but also from a viewpoint of what wil help your child. Kids that age are very sensitive. It’s confusing enough to have a man around who isn’t “daddy” but it can be even harder for kids in a defacto relationship. No matter how committed you feel about each other, kids struggle to see that committment without a marriage.

      After getting married, my daughter has really settled. Even though I was scared she’d think “well you and daddy were married and that didn’t stop him abandoning me”, she didn’t. She knew (and still knows) my husband is here to stay in our lives forever.

      If it helps, I think it’s completely normal what your daughter is going through, even for a nuclear family. Kids hit that “tween” age and they think they are grown up and feel they have to be part of everything their parents do – and they do feel left out if you don’t. But sometimes it’s just about being clear on boundaries. Explaining that there are just things her kids can’t be privy to. And it’s not just partner relationships either – my daughter has a wonderful relationship with her real aunt and uncles, as well as with friends of mine who are like aunts and uncles to her. Which at times has made her feel like she can be part of all grown up activities. So I often have to remind her that grown up do and say things that she’s not old enough to be a part of. She will push – but then I have to firmly remind her of boundaries.

      Her feelings are very important, but sometimes we do have to hurt kids feelings to do what is best for them. Every time they ask for chocolate bar when you’re shopping, or when they want to go on an expensive trip with a friend when it’s just not in your budget (or the friend isn’t someone you want them going on a trip), basically any time you say no to a child, it’s going to hurt their feelings, but sometimes it’s what is far better for them. I know it’s really hard, but in the long run, it’s best to say no to your daughter now than have an out of control teenager later (or worse an out of control adult).

      I must admit, I spoilt my daughter a little before my husband came into our lives. I was desperately trying to make up for the fact her father abandoned her and for having to go to work to put food on the table, so I treated her a little too much. And we’re still struggling a little with her adjusting to being told no to things. Thankfully for us, it was only minor spoiling and she’s gradually coming to accept that she’s not the most important in the world (although occasionally she still stomps her feet and insists she is).

      It’s a fine balance between being there for a child and teaching them boundaries but I am sure you can.

      Also one other thing (and others may disagree) – before we were married, my daughter was my first priority, after we were married, my husband was. Being married changes the dynamic. Hubby thankfully understood that until he put the ring on my finger, he was not my husband and it would be wrong to insist he be my first priority, but also recognised as we got to know each other, that when he did finally do that, that he automatically took over being number one (earthly) priority.

  35. I read the Article on better wife or better mother and can relate very closely to the ‘ better mother’ unfortunately. My case is much more complicated as my daughter is from a previous marriage , and I always feel as though my husband and her are competing for my love and time . She always wins , I think and I feel guily when I give my husband love and attention . However with our son I do not feel the powe struggle that frequently!!!!

    • ButterflyWings says:

      I get the total opposite with my daughter. My daughter is always competing with me for my husband’s time. She spent the first 11 years of her life without a real dad (8 years of a neglectful abuser who barely wanted to know her, then three years of total abandonment) and now she has a “daddy” and wants his attention constantly.

      Perhaps the best way to treat it is not a competition between her and your husband for your time. Consider that spending time and effort and your husband is investing time in your daughter’s wellbeing.

      It doesn’t matter if your kids are from your current marriage or previous marriage, they will fight for your attention and play couples off against each other. But the absolute best thing you can do for your daughter is to teach her how to be the best wife and mother possible – and that means showing her your marriage takes priority.

      Of course your kids need love and time – and a lot of it, but not at the expense of your marriage. the best thing you can do for your daughter is provide a stable family for her, which means having a strong, happy marriage.

      You don’t have these battles with your son it sounds like? Try to treat your daughter the same way. It shouldn’t matter if your husband is her biodad or her stepdad, he needs the same respect from her, and he needs to show her the same love and respect he shows your son. Try to treat your kids exactly the same and don’t buy into the “but he’s not her real dad” guilt.

      I know it’s something a lot of people struggle with, and from what I’ve heard, stepparent-stepchild problems are one of the biggest (if not the biggest) reason most second marriages break up. Don’t buy into it. Treat your son and daughter exactly the same, especially in regards to love and time with them versus with your husband.

      It’s not easy, but it’s for the best. and it will take time to change the dynamic, but stay strong until you can. Good luck

  36. ButterflyWings says:

    One of the most horrific articles online I read lately was an article about telling women their kids should always come first and basically their partners don’t matter at all (whether this is the biological dad of the children or not), and then people wonder why so many fed up men leave. What was worse was the stream of comments after the article, saying women with children should never remarry, that they should never even date (for life, even after the kids have grown up and moved out home), comments about how if they are remarried, they should divorce their husbands and “put the kids first”. One commenter even going as far to say any woman who remarries is “abusing” her children for staying in the marriage and not divorcing a perfectly loving man.

    I see it as just one more way society attacks christian values – and at the price of children’s best interests. What’s worse, is they try to claim it’s FOR the children.

    There are few things more devastating to children than marriage breakdown. Yet so many misinformed people in society can’t see that it’s FOR children, that spouses need to have first priority.

    I know first hand that getting married to a wonderful christian man who is a wonderful father figure has made a mammoth difference in my daughter’s life. While I must admit it’s been tough for me, and we’ve had our difficult moments (hubby and I), we always present a united front to “our” daughter and she has thrived on it.

    I just wish I could get through to all those preaching “put children first” that putting your marriage first IS doing what is best for your children first.

  37. I am so ridiculously fed up with this message. Amanda is exactly right! It’s morbid to put them in a position of competition! And why is it automatically assumed that if the children are put first then the husband is neglected? Why are the men whining about this? The argument seems to be that it says in the Bible your spouse comes before your children. Well, it also says the wife is supposed to keep the home while the husband tends the fields. I work full time outside of the home. So who decides that making my children a priority is what’s exhausting me? Maybe it’s working 40 hrs a week on top of keeping the house and tending the children. ‘But the Bible says’…I can use the same argument! Plus, the bible is referring to children born to the husband and wife. My children were born to me and my first husband, not my current husband. It’s not the same circumstances so how do you apply the same guidelines?? And maybe these marriages wouldn’t fail if the husbands acted like adults instead of Whiney children that need taken care of! We’re not your mothers! And being a good mother does not prevent me from also being a good wife. Posts like these do nothing but encourage children being neglected and make good mothers feel inadequate as wives!

    • Sb,

      I do agree that you can be both. But I also think that for most women, the idea of TRYING to be both is out the window as soon as kids come. Our focus turns to our kids, and we become great moms. But you CAN’T be a great mom unless you’re also working on your marriage, because what kids need is stability and for their parents to love each other. If you are ignoring your husband for your kids, you’re not a great mom, no matter how much you may think you are. That is the point.

      And if you don’t mind me saying so, it sort of seems like you’ve bought into this a bit. If you reread your comment, everything you’ve said about men is negative. You called them whiny. You said that men think that we’re their mothers and they need being taken care of.

      If this is really the way you think of men, then that’s a problem. A man is not being whiny simply because he wants a good marriage and wants some of his wife’s attention, in the same way that we’re not being whiny if we want some of our husband’s attention. That’s what a marriage IS. Yet often the dynamic happens that once a child comes, the marriage is neglected.

      I don’t think being a wife and mom should be in competition; I think that we SHOULD care about everybody and that’s what makes a healthy family. But the simple fact is that most women do throw themselves into their kids and neglect the marriage. I’m not saying men are perfect; I’m simply saying that we women need to be aware of this dynamic, because we are not acting lovingly towards our children if we allow our marriages to go down the drain.

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