Last week I guest posted on “A Martha Heart”, writing about how to keep your bedroom a sacred place for you and your husband.
The first commenter really took me to task for one of my points. I had said that co-sleeping–inviting the children into your bed–even when they were toddlers, was not good for one’s marriage. It hindered one’s sex life, and most men resent the kids’ presence. And men’s feelings should matter.
The woman said that was ridiculous, because “while you can divorce your husband, most women wouldn’t dream of divorcing their kids.” Therefore, the kids should come first.
I’m always amazed when I read this so blatantly. Do people not understand what they are saying? So I thought perhaps this needed its own post.
First, it goes without saying that having the attitude that “you can always divorce your husband” is a seriously bad idea. That means when he starts to really bug you, or consistently seems to ignore your needs or not listen to your feelings that you could think about leaving rather than trying to fix the problem.
But there’s a bigger issue, and it’s this. The best way that you can love your kids is to love your husband. What kids want, more than anything, is to feel that their home is stable and secure. That security gives them the wings to grow and explore in safety. That’s not to say, of course, that all marriages can be saved or that marriage, no matter what goes on behind closed doors, is best for kids. Obviously there are cases where you need to leave to protect the children. But that is rare, and I believe most marriages that break up do so for far less.
Do you remember that scene in the movie The Incredibles, where the two older children are huddling in the cave, wondering what to do to rescue their parents. The little boy is tickled pink with all the excitement around them, while the more mature teenage girl tries to kick some reality into his little head. “Don’t you realize that our parents’ lives may be at stake?” she yells at him. “Or even worse, their marriage?”To kids, divorce is just about as bad as death.
Never think that you are doing your children a favor by prioritizing them over your husband. You’re not. And yet what often happens is that the overwhelming love that we feel for our children makes our husbands seem selfish if they want something from us, too. Doesn’t he understand that the kids need to come first?
After all, every one of us would die for our kids in an instant. But who would die for your husbands? Chances are you’d have to really think about it, because you know that your kids likely need you more. It’s not a straightforward question, is it? And yet because our love for our kids is so primal and so different, it’s easy to push our husbands out of the way and build our lives around our kids.
Don’t. Your kids don’t need you to be with them every single night. They would benefit from you taking a break and going on a date with your spouse. They would benefit from having their own room, so that you and your hubby can relax together in your bedroom. Your children will thrive when you learn how to resolve conflict with your husband, how to form a real team, and how to put him first.
After all, the Bible says that the husband and wife are one flesh, not the kids and the mom. They may come from us, but we are united with our husband, not our kids.
Husbands often feel very put out when children are born, because they take over everything. We’re exhausted, and we need to feed the babies every 3-4 hours, so our husband’s needs fall far down the list. I think in the newborn period this is only natural. But, honestly, don’t let that persist. He is not wrong if he still wants to spend time with you, or wants to have sex with you! He actually is doing the right thing; he’s prioritizing the right relationship. He’s not being selfish.
Let me ask you: how do you navigate the muddy waters of everyone’s conflicting needs? Do you sometimes feel like your husband is putting too much on you? How do you put him first? Let me know!