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by Rebecca Cooper-Traynor

Who Comes First – My Kids or My Partner?

Prioritizing Your Partner for a Healthy, Happy Relationship

It’s no secret that a healthy relationship is good for your children to see and be apart of. What more could you want then to have your kids want to emulate you for the love and caring you have for your spouse?

Your children will grow up knowing what a healthy relationship is all about because you have been such an amazing role model.

Here’s an anecdote to illustrate what that might look like:

Your parents are still together. Your childhood memories revolve around your parents being loving and attentive to each other. The family would take road trips together, but mom and dad would also take regular vacations without the kids in tow.There were weekly date nights, flowers for no reason, and lots of PDAs. This is the way you were raised, and you honor that experience by behaving the same way. It’s only natural, after all.

Can you think of a better example of why it’s so important to put your partner first?

Putting the kids first: cause? Or effect?

The truth is, many relationships start to fall apart because one parent or the other starts to put the kids before the marriage. This is not to say that your kids aren’t important, but if you are ignoring your relationship for any reason, it’s a sign of brewing trouble. No matter what your excuse is, the results are never good.

Putting your kids before everything else isn’t just bad for your relationship – it’s also bad for your kids. By many estimations, it makes them neurotic and needy, and perhaps more importantly, it prevents you from recognizing that there is a serious problem brewing in your relationship.

Telling yourself that the kids need you more

You might have plenty of rationale for putting the kids over your marriage. Your partner is an adult, after all. They don’t need your attention as much as the young ones do. But is this a reasonable argument?

Some parents choose to focus on their kids more because they are trying to avoid dealing with issues in the marriage. However, this is only going to work for so long. Once the kids are old enough, they won’t need your doting attention anymore. What then? You’ll be forced to face problems you’ve buried for years. Some couples never come back from that.

Statistically speaking

Approximately one in three marriages end in divorce. Strictly by the numbers, this gives you a pretty good chance of being one of them, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

A historic study of relationships after having children found that 92 percent of couples had a “significant” increase in conflict after the birth. More than 25 percent of these couples’ marriages were in distress by the time the child was 18 months old.

The same study also found that while parental stress eased by the time the kids were school age, marital satisfaction continued to decline.

The doctors who conducted the study, a husband and wife team, commented that they were surprised at how many couples with children found it so challenging to maintain a nurturing relationship with their partner.

In the end, they concluded that all couples need to put effort into maintaining a satisfying relationship over time, even if they need to seek professional intervention. If you’re having a hard time seeing the way back to the happy, loving couple you once were, counselling may help.

What kind of example are you setting for them?

You give a lot to your kids. More than anything we can provide them, however, is the example of a happy marriage. These are the memories and experiences that will shape the kind of person they grow up to be.

So, make sure you’re giving your partner the appropriate consideration. If you need help to do so, seek it out. It’s never too early – or too late – to reconnect and reprioritize.

Here are some things you can do every day to bring the two of you closer:

  • Schedule regular time to reconnect – and stick to it as if it was the most important meeting of the day. It could be 15 minutes at the end of each day or a date night each week, but once you’ve made the commitment, show up for it.
  • Make a physical connection every day, whether it’s a hug, a kiss, a snuggle on the couch, or holding hands.
  • Be grateful for what your partner does for you and make sure they know it. You can express your gratitude verbally or write a handwritten note.
  • Listen to one another. Share what’s going on in your day and give equal respect to your partner.
  • Do things you used to do before you had kids. This could be activities in or out of the house, like cooking together, reading to each other, or watching your favorite movies.

Consider these efforts an investment into a long and happy marriage – one that will shape the way your children approach their own love relationships. This, more than just about anything else, is the true gauge of how good a parent you have been.

 

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