Putting the Marriage Relationship First

Many married couples, when the first child comes along, unknowingly start to put the marriage relationship on the back burner. After all, dear husband surely understands how helpless Baby is and dependent on mother? Or, Mummy surely won’t mind if Daddy comes home from a business trip with a new toy for Firstborn Son instead of for her like he used to.

When our first son was born, Daniel was very busy with his work and he was hardly home. He would make promises about coming home at a certain time, but it almost never happened. I didn’t know it at that time, but in my bitterness, I threw all my energy into taking care of my son. If he didn’t have time for me, who was I to care? I had this little bundle of joy to focus on anyway. And within three years, we had three kids! You can imagine the kind of schedule I had, so if Daniel wasn’t around, I didn’t really have the energy to chase him home.

Years later, we learned how that season of unresolved hurt against Daniel made me form a wall against him. This greatly affected how I would communicate with or respond to him. Thankfully, we found mentors who helped us understand the importance of prioritising the marriage relationship over and above our children. By the time our fourth child rolled around, he had also started to realize my need for quality time.

Since then, we have made it a habit to take some time off all to ourselves. It can be as simple as a walk a few blocks down, or it can be spending some we-time watching a Korean drama on Netflix.

Do you know that children get their sense of security from knowing that mummy and daddy will always be there for them—together?   
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Why We Need to Prioritise Marriage

Here are some reasons why we need to put our marriage above even our unconditional love for our children:

1. Children get their security from mummy and daddy’s togetherness.

Do you know that children get their sense of security from knowing that mummy and daddy will always be there for them—together? When the parents have constant conflict, it creates an unconscious anxiety in the children. That’s why it’s important for our kids to get a mental image of mummy and daddy enjoying each other’s company.

2. Children learn honor and respect by watching how their parents treat each other.

Sometimes we may think that we want to focus on teaching our children important values. But character is more caught than taught; the more that our kids observe the way we treat our spouse, the more they are able to learn the right way of responding to other people.

3. Your spouse is who you will continue to be with long after the children have gone.

Face it, someday your children will get married and leave the house. And even if you end up living with your grown children, they will soon have their own families to take care of. But your husband or wife is who you will grow old with, so it’s wise to invest in growing as best friends and lovers all through the years. Knock on wood, you don’t want to be surprised to find yourself living with a stranger after the kids leave home!

4. You and your spouse continue being persons with the need to feel loved.

Sometimes we think that once we become parents, we need to be selfless and sacrificial. Indeed, becoming a parent does come with the privilege of pouring ourselves out for helpless human beings. But that doesn’t mean our needs go away. We still have the inherent need of being loved, especially by our spouse. And if that need isn’t met, we will still, consciously or not, look for other places to fill that longing. (Sadly, unmet needs is one common cause why some people venture into extramarital affairs.)

Instead, when we consciously fill our partner’s love tanks, perhaps by expressing our love through their love language, we can keep growing together as a couple.

5. Feeling secure in our spouse’s love helps us pour out love better.

When we are cranky and needing attention ourselves (believe me, it’s a legitimate need!), we may struggle with being patient with our kids. But when our own love tanks are full, we are better able to pour out love for them.

Lizzie* (name changed to protect privacy) is a mom who recognises her need for time away from the kids at least once a week. She and her husband decided to set aside a weekly date time. Sometimes, when she fails to take that time off, she can get so frazzled that she ends up chewing out the kids—something she clearly doesn’t want to do, and doesn’t really do when she’s well-rested and fully reminded of her husband’s love, which happens when they get to spend quality time with each other.

Date Time is Prioritising Marriage

Practicing date time is one example of putting our marriage relationship first. To get some ideas how to get started or be creative with dating your spouse, check out our post on 25 Date Time Ideas.

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