My husband and I have been together a long, long time. Our relationship is the foundation upon which our family is built.
There are days when it feels like we don’t quite connect, like we are just residence advisors in a busy boarding school where the kids come and go and need to be fed, watered, cleansed and chauffeured. But other days our connection is strong enough to resist the chaos of family life.
I haven’t created a permanent pecking order of who comes first in my life – everyone gets what they needs on most days. Every day is different and sometimes one child needs more than another, sometimes my husband needs more of my time, and there are times when I need (or at least want) to be the priority. Most days, the dog needs walking. My family is not Maslow’s hierarchy of needs personified.
Which is why I don’t understand when women feel the need to say that they prioritize their husbands over their kids. Amber Doty at YourTango.com wrote a post entitled “Why I’ll Always Put My Husband Before My Kids.”
In it she explains why it is important to her to make her husband her priority. She writes that a strong marriage teaches her kids about good relationships; their marriage is the base to their family; the kids will leave eventually and she wants to still be connected with her husband. I agree with all those ideas, but where she goes too far is when she says: “Don’t get me wrong; I love my kids and would do anything for them. But I love my husband more.”
I would never say that. I’m certainly not going to open up a can of worms on the Internet and tell my kids that I love anyone more than I love them. Because I don’t. Love is not a pie, it is a bottomless, boundary-less ocean. I can’t measure my love for my husband and compare it to another person. I can’t even choose a favourite color or flavor of ice cream.
I love my three kids, my husband, my parents, my sister and my best friends all differently. Some days it’s harder to love one of them, some days someone needs a little more love, some days I’m clear out of love but I fake it ’til I make it. But that’s family life—a balancing act of everyone’s eccentricities and needs.
Husband versus the kids is not an either/or equation. My husband and I still manage date nights, and solo vacations even though I haven’t sworn on my wedding vows that he is my number one priority.
YourTango did a survey about this issue and found that 48 percent of people think wives should put their husbands first. There is something sort of Stepford and vaguely sexual about even asking the question.
Did the survey ask if husbands should put their wives first? Probably not. That would sound weird, we would never ask men that. In our culture, men prioritize work or family, and possibly their favourite sports teams. It’s only women who are asked to rank the people they love.