Families are as unique as fingerprints, some will make travel, sports, or music a priority. While others rank education, outdoor adventures, and entertainment higher. While there is certainly room to make your family priority list as unique as your own family, one thing is non-negotiable…
YOUR SPOUSE COMES FIRST.
Sounds harsh to your lovely littles, but consider that the best gift you can give your children is a strong, healthy marriage. When kids suck up all the energy and time, the marriage suffers. Consequently, everyone pays, including the kids. When a marriage is “watered,” that love grows and spills over into every other aspect of the family.
Also, when we make kids the center of our universe, it’s not good for them! We’re seeing an epidemic of entitlement in our culture. Some of that may be because children never take a back seat to anyone. When we make our spouse a priority, it doesn’t mean we don’t make time for our children. They’re the squeaky wheels. They will always get oiled.
But it’s all too easy for couples to drift apart and for a loving relationship to go south over time if the relationship isn’t given a little oil too. Thankfully, your wife/husband isn’t going to have a tantrum if you cancel a date night, but that’s no reason to let it slide. What a beautiful example to your children, expressing that the marital relationship is important and deserves time and effort! Bonus: Your loving example will help them down the road in their own relationships.
Once you’ve decided your spouse should be a priority, how do you do that (practically speaking) when there’s a household to run, jobs and tasks to complete, crying kids, not to mention you’re both exhausted most of the time? We can’t make the trash and recycling go away, put an end to the terrible two’s, or eat meals that make themselves, but we can offer you some practical ways to cherish your beloved in a way that puts him/her first.
3 CREATIVE WAYS TO PUT YOUR SPOUSE FIRST
Make your hellos and goodbyes a big deal!
Think about what it was like BK (before kids). People who are dating usually stop and recognize their loved one when they enter or leave the house, usually with a verbal greeting like, “I love you. Have a great day!” And on many occasions a hug or kiss follows. To be honest, there have been harried days when I’m knee deep in dirty diapers, chores, and spilled Cheerios that I haven’t even acknowledged my husband when he’s left or returned. NOT. GOOD. Making a point of greeting each other is a small thing that goes a long way to letting your spouse know he/she is special. When you arrive home, or are about to leave, seek out your spouse first (kids and dog next). Let your kids witness true love in daily practice!
Just say NO to the family bed!
Making your bedroom a no-kids or chaos zone can go a long way to building intimacy. A healthy couple needs time alone, a retreat from the demands and chaos that are… family life. Of course, there are seasons in our lives when kids need extra time with parents—if they’re working through sleep issues, nursing, or battling sickness, but those should be exceptions rather than the rule. It’s important to make a couple’s bedroom private. You won’t always achieve it, but it is something to continually strive for. Even if you’re too wiped out to do anything but binge-watch “The Crown” and hold hands, you need that time together without constant distraction and disruption to regularly renew the relationship.
Lead the family together.
(Gosh, do I struggle with this one!) If you’re serious about making your marriage the primary relationship in the family from which all others are nourished, both of you need to share the leadership role. It’s not fair for one person to always enforce rules, plan activities, set family goals. (Check out our Free Family Goal-Setting Guide here.) Granted, there will be times when responsibilities will shift and it won’t always be perfectly even, but shoot for a balance. Make a point of discussing changes in how things are being handled before informing the kids. At the weekly family huddle (see below for more blogs on this), take turns at the helm. Be united in your response to kids. (Your children know how to exploit this like masters… “But, Mom said I could have more dessert.”) Let your children know that what your spouse says… goes! You may not agree, but reinforce to the whole family that you always have your spouse’s back! Small signs of solidarity make the other feel valued and empowered to co-lead.
Remember, setting your husband/wife as your priority doesn’t mean the kids get the shaft, it means that everyone benefits from the love that pours forth from the two people who created that family unit. You’re watering the family at its source. A stronger marriage means character growth for everyone!
Do you agree that your spouse should come first in your priorities—before your kids? Let us know what you think on FB and Insta—we want your feedback!
If you agree/ disagree, are there practical tips you can share to make your spouse feel cherished?
How do you think kids feel about being prioritized second, or even third? (If you’re a Christian, God will be your primary relationship, followed by spouse, then kids.)
How do your family’s priorities stack up?
Regardless of your stance, marvel at all you’ve set into motion, mom & dad—a family built on love!