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Kid first? Marriage first?

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Undefinabl3 posted 8/8/2013 10:45 AM

My parents got divorced when i was about 9 years old. And I grew up hearing and playing out the "Put your marraige first" all the time.

Both of my parents reamarried about a year after the divorce, and both of them choose to do this even though my brother and I pretty much loathed both of the new step parents.

My mom grew up the same way. Grama actually straight out told the kids (there were 5 at the time) that she would pick Grampa over them every time because kids are meant to grow up and move away, but that Grampa would always be there. Makes sense i suppose, but man it must make the kids feel great ykwim?

Dad's side was much different. They were very much kid oriented and doted on my dad (he was an only child). They were all about my dad and were involved and never once was there a tention of "i will choose your father over you"

Both sets were married 50 to 50+ years with only death seperating them.

So now....I am in the mix in this conversation with DH.

When we first got together, and had no kids, i was told that if I couldnt except his son (DSS), then i should just move on to another guy.

Good thing i liked his son.

However, now that we have kids of our own (so DH is up to 3 kids total for him) - he's really reverted to the whole "our kids will be grown and gone, we really need to put ourselves first and do our own thing"....GAH!

So what is the line here? Why is it sometimes kids first, and sometimes not so much?

Is there right/wrong here?

Just things i have been throwing around in my brain.

DragnHeart posted 8/8/2013 10:51 AM

Wow. I don't know how to respond to that.

My brothers and I are grown but my parents are of the mindset that "we are family thus there for eachother always".

I can see putting my physical health before all else. How else would I be able to take care of my kids and be a partner to my wh if I wasn't well. But to say " my marriage comes before my family" just seems a bit extreme to me.

karmahappens posted 8/8/2013 10:54 AM

I don't see this issue as kids over adults so much.

I think parents need to be united and the children's best interests should always be top priority.

Kids will be gone is true, but if you put yourself/husband fist all the time I would guarantee you wont have visits as adults.

I would not choose my husband over my kids just because. I may choose his opinion at times, but never one person over another. It isnt a competition.

And really, what does it matter...regardless of what we do we will screw them up one way or

Really though, it's a fine line and I don't know that there is a right or wrong.

I am really no help .....

Crescita posted 8/8/2013 11:01 AM

I've read both should come first, but you have to separate needs and wants. Kids' needs trump all, but partner's wants trump kids' wants. So make sure your kids are clothed, fed, and otherwise happy, then the adults pick the vacation, what to watch on TV, or what to eat for dinner. Not saying you can't consider the kids preferences, but no one needs to watch Dora 4 hours a day.

MovingUpward posted 8/8/2013 11:01 AM

I don't think that there is a right and wrong to this. But something is always first, you choose what that something is, but it might change day to day. Very rarely is there a decision where we'd have to choose marriage or children where the consequences were high for either choice.


In the case of marriage first and children later, there is a focus on the marriage which includes the focus of the needs of the other spouse. The other spouse is often a parent too, maybe an employee somewhere, a son or daughter . . . Because of this a spouse is multidimensional and to focus on my spouse would also include those areas too with the pretense that I am working to keep the marriage priority #1.

With kids as #1, your focus would be on things like their health, the stability and safety of their environment, their relationships with your spouse and other family members . . . . Once again there is a link back to the marriage often in the terms of stability and relationship with your spouse. So to keep them the best off you might need to focus on the marriage because it links back.

There is no rule of thumb though. Could you expect to tell a spouse to make their marriage the #1 priority over the kids if there spouse was molesting or physically abusing them? I think you'd agree that in that particular situation than one needs to make the kids the #1 priority. Their safety then work on getting the spouse help.

Newlease posted 8/8/2013 11:33 AM

In a really good relationship where everyone is working towards the same goals - you should not have to choose.

It's true - kids do grow up and leave home. In my instance, they are men now and their primary relationship is with their wives and children. I am secondary, as it should be.

But, I would not change how they were raised - I did the best I could for them. They had love, food, shelter. They were taught good manners and morals. They didn't always get their way or the latest toy or gadget. And they turned out pretty good - successful, tax-paying, law-abiding citizens who seem to be happy in their lives.


TrustedHer posted 8/8/2013 11:41 AM

I think you need to look deeper into this conversation. Not just what was spoken, but what was left unsaid, and what motivated it.

There is a balance in family life, and conversations like this don't come up out of thin air. You asked about "right/wrong" when I think it's all about balance.

First, the disclaimer: I am a BS who, by virtue of poor coping skills and FOO issues came away at the end of my marriage feeling neglected, disrespected, and mistreated. This colors what I'm going to say.

The subtext I'm hearing here is that your DH believes the family dynamic has shifted to the point where he is feeling less valued (as a husband) than he needs to feel. If this is so, he needs to learn how to deal with those feelings.

As far as the whole "best interests of the kids" thing goes, I think it can be misapplied. You need to take care of the kids. You need to train and educate them, feed them, nurture them. Love them. Then let them go. Maybe even push them.

If you do it to the total exclusion of your marriage, well, that's not really a marriage. Your spouse is no longer a romantic partner. Just a coworker in the child-raising.

If you look at every moment spent with your children as a burden, something taken away from your marriage rather than a fleeting pleasure, then you aren't really nurturing them. At best, you're tolerating them; at worst, resenting them.

You are not your parents. Nor your grandparents. They made their decisions based on the information and coping skills they had at the time.

Does putting the kids first really have to mean putting your marriage last? Or should you do your best to nurture both, and nurture yourself, too?

Balance is hard. He has needs, She has needs, and the kids always, always have needs. There's only so much time and money to apportion, so much stress to handle, so many brain cells to dedicate to decisions.

What message do you want the kids to internalize when they grow up?

This issue hits close to home for me. I was as good a Dad as I knew how to be, and spent 25 years being a father/husband. In that order. Actually, it was probably father/breadwinner/driver/scout dad/roadie/choreman/husband. I fit in somewhere behind the dogs. As a result, I built resentments and spent a lot of my focus on how I would finally get to be in a committed marriage after the empty nest arrived.

That did not end well, but this is Off Topic, and further explanation is against the guidelines. Look for a post tomorrow in D/S. It will mention atom bombs and historical events about a former president.

I have never experienced MC, but based on my IC I think this is the sort of issue that can be explored with a dispassionate third party. Communication and agreement are key here, and if you attempt to handle this yourself, there is more room for misunderstanding.

(Edited to remove a politician's name.)

[This message edited by TrustedHer at 1:21 PM, August 9th (Friday)]

Undefinabl3 posted 8/8/2013 11:44 AM

but no one needs to watch Dora 4 hours a day

In my case its Mighty Machines, Eon Boy, and Iron Man...DD doesnt have much of a voice right now to pick.

but yeah, i see the point.

I remember telling my mom right before she got married that I wasn't ready to get married yet. I know she didn't think much of that when I said it, and we have had many conversations now that I am older, but when I was younger, that was the only way I could think of saying that I was not ready for that big of a change in my life yet.

A year may seem like plenty of time for an adult, but it went by way to quick for me. It was like I met the guy, then every other weekend we were down at his house, and then they were married and I had to move away from all my friends.

It wasn't as big of an issue with my dad seeing as how we only saw him every other weekend, but my step mother was a real piece of work. She tolorated us, and that was putting it nicely. She hated my brother and even told dad that my brother needed to stay with Grama because she though my brother was a bad influence on her son.

I got along ok with her, but I learned real quick where her loyaly lay. I just never even tried to get close to her.

I guess i am glad to know that i am not the only one who on this topic. Before I became a mother I was like, sure i suppose i can understand that whole, "marriage comes first" thing....but now that i am a mom I am very much a Mom first and a Wife second...of course that may change as they get older i imagine

Undefinabl3 posted 8/8/2013 12:01 PM

What message do you want the kids to internalize when they grow up?

I really want my kids to understand that while I am their mother, and their Father is their Father....we are still individuals and that we have an existance outside of their needs and wants.

If that makes any sense. Not now though, they are only 2 and 4 years old, my world revolves around them at this point, but later, i want them to know that life is more then the people that are in it.

I would like for them to do sports, 4H, FFA, scouts. Have friends over all the time and wreck my house (well, not literally but you understand) I want them to meet people, go places, and have an identity that doesnt first include "I am Undfinabl3's son/daughter" when someone asks them to say something about themselves.

My parents always treated me as a little individual, and that gave me so much more confidence and self awareness, that I somehow didnt need to identify myself through them.

Tawnee1969 posted 8/9/2013 00:25 AM

ok. here is another side.

My partner puts his son before me every single time. We live together but I am lucky to get a kiss good bye whereas his son gets picked up, cuddled and kissed (son is 12).

We went on holiday with my partner, his son and my son. My partner spent the whole time holding his sons hand, talking to him, doing stuff with him and I got...nothing.

On our 1 yr anniversary I asked a week before hand if we could spend time together. He was meant to watch a DVD with his son the night before but something came up so he ditched me on our anniversary to watch DVD with his son (we owned the DVD so they could watch any other night).

These are just a few examples and it happens every day.

I don't just feel second. I feel last every damn time.

Nature_Girl posted 8/9/2013 02:48 AM

My parents were of the "marriage first" bent. I grew up hearing threats that if we ever did anything super wrong that caused Mom & Dad to fight, they would get rid of us kids. Marriage was sacred, "let no man come between what God has joined", and that meant kids were expendable and to be sacrificed on the alter of preserving the marriage.

I ended up choosing as the father of my children a man who asked me to choose between him or the children when the children were still babies. I mean babies. Had a child in my arms less than two weeks old. He seriously wanted me to choose him over an infant I'd just given birth to. Said if I loved him & was a good Christian I'd choose him.

I call bullshit on both scenarios. Both are emotional & spiritual abuse. I am majorly fucked up because of that kind of stuff from my parents, and I'll never forget my husband's selfishness and sheer assholery at putting that question to me with a nursling in my arms.

Undefinabl3 posted 8/9/2013 06:53 AM

I think DH and I do a good job of the balance. At least I hope so.

So far we have never gone against another's wishes (infront of the kids anyway) say DS wants a cookie, but I already told him no - then DH says no as well.

Same goes with punishments. If DH has already handled the situation with a spank or a time out. Then I won't add to it, and I won't comfort during - even if I would have handled the situation differently.

We have date night every wednesday. We go dancing at the local country bar. We have a rule - no electronics until DD is in bed, and I take them to church on sundays.

For me, right now, my kids are coming in first more times the DH, but its not because i dont want DH to come in first, its because they can't cook, clean, pick up the house, change their own diaper, wipe their own butt, take their own bath/shower. They are still way to young for me to pull my every day focus away from them at the moment.

And this is not an issue with DH, it was more of a wandering thought that walked through my mind. I was mulling it over and thought I would mull with you fine people.

Mama_of_3_Kids posted 8/9/2013 08:46 AM

I've read both should come first, but you have to separate needs and wants. Kids' needs trump all, but partner's wants trump kids' wants. So make sure your kids are clothed, fed, and otherwise happy, then the adults pick the vacation, what to watch on TV, or what to eat for dinner. Not saying you can't consider the kids preferences, but no one needs to watch Dora 4 hours a day.

This ^^^

Parents can't parent well if there isn't focus on their spouse; spouses can't be a good spouse if the kids aren't being cared for. It's all about putting each of them first at different times and in different ways.

Want2help posted 8/9/2013 15:33 PM

My stepfather (only 12 years older than me) told my mother to choose us (meaning him and myself).

My mother came to my room and asked me not to make her choose, just quietly pack my bags and leave.

I did, and I moved in with my boyfriend. I was 14, and am estranged from my other.

My mother is still with him, 16 years later, and the man who once doted on her treats her like garbage.

Neither me or my brother speak to her, and we cannot forgive her for turning her back on us at such young ages (my brother moved out at 10 to live with family).

She has no one but him.

My daughter is my priority.

However, I want very much for my daughter to grow up in a home with two parents in a HEALTHY marriage. So my marriage is also a top priority.

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