Don’t Let Kids Be the Number One Priority in Your Marriage, Say Experts

Don’t Let Kids Be the Number One Priority in Your Marriage, Say Experts

Look at the baby. Look at the baby. 

By Marianne Garvey

Is it possible to even imagine not putting your kid first? Well, yes, say experts. In fact, it’s better for your marriage.

Kids can become all-consuming for couples, which can actually be a negative thing for the relationship. If you fail to put effort into you and your partner, the relationship will show signs of neglect.

So relationship experts say that your partner should be your number one priority, even before your children.

To be clear, this doesn’t mean neglect your kids, or even to not spoil them — it just means to put your relationship first, which actually makes you better parents. When your relationship is happy and healthy, that spreads to other areas of your life, including your children’s lives.

New Orleans-based therapist, Dymphna Davis, Ph.D, tells Personal Space that it’s better to care too much about your kids than not enough, but to make sure you are putting time into your marriage too.

“It's natural and beneficial for parents to make their children's well being a high priority. It's better to err by caring too much than not enough,” she says. “The fact is, caring for a child is a concrete obligation, measured in homework and checkups and milestones and kisses. Nurturing a marriage is none of these things. And sometimes most people, don’t have the time or energy for both.

“If one or both parents make the needs of the marriage subordinate to the need of the child, they run the risk of fostering feelings of resentment, neglect, resignation, and alienation in themselves and/or each other. Even if the consequences aren't overtly harmful, they can erode the quality of the couples' connection.”

Unhappy and unfulfilled parents can also be sending their kids a message that marriage makes people anxious and unhappy.

“If the focus of the couple’s discord centers on child-rearing differences, the child can conclude that they are source of their parents' unhappiness,” she says. “The time to experience the partnership of a marriage is not after the kids have left home. It is while the children can witness the rules of engagement parents set. More than anything else, the example of a happy marriage supports and encourages the possibility of creating such a relationship in their adult lives.”

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