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Like most things in the parenting realm, this is a topic that people are very passionate about. I've read and heard a lot of opinions on the topic and it's truly something that interests me. If I'm being honest, I agree with points on both sides of the argument. Since I love hearing about different perspectives and keeping an open mind to others, I figured I'd weigh in on the topic myself.
Traditionally, the marriage should come first. After reading why and forming my own thoughts, I can understand why some people feel this way. The idea is that by putting your marriage first, you're setting an example for your kids on what a healthy, loving relationship looks like. Also, traditionally your marriage starts before you have kids, so it's believed that you should appreciate what brought you your kids in the first place. Kids grow up, move out, and live lives of their own, however, your spouse will still be there. If you don't make your marriage a priority, your relationship will likely be strained and certainly won't be happy. Some speculate that the change in our youth feeling entitled to everything comes from parents putting them first. This can also be said about the increase in divorce in recent history, claiming it may be due to more parents choosing a "kids first" approach, and not prioritizing the marriage.
More recently, parents agree that their children should come first. And again, I agree with certain aspects here. Your kids are your blood, they depend on you from the time they're in utero. It's your responsibility to make sure they grow up loved and cared for. Meanwhile, marriages may end and partners may leave. Putting someone else before your child can leave them feeling like they're not loved, create negative feelings, and possibly even mental illness. It can lead to risky behaviors in order to get your attention and can really affect their upbringing or your relationship with them.
Now, where do I stand? I say my love isn't a competition. My relationship with my husband is just as important to me as my relationship with my children. Without my husband, we wouldn't have our kids. Not only are they equally as important, but they are two very different loves and there's no way for me to compare them. It's possible to have a healthy balance. I'm a stay at home mom. The majority of my day is dedicated to caring for and playing with my children. However, they know that when their dad comes home from work he gets my attention, too. After playing with my husband a bit they typically play more independently so we can have our time to talk. We also go out on dates at least a couple of times a month. This gives us the opportunity to still be ourselves, not just "mom" and "dad". Even on the weekends where we don't go out, we'll stay in and have a movie night after the kids go to bed.
You shouldn't have to choose one to put above everything else. We're more dynamic than that. It takes a lot of effort some days, but I know how important both relationships are to me. This "all or nothing" approach seems a little ridiculous to me. There's plenty of other opinions out there in regards to this topic and I really suggest looking into it if it interests you. A lot of the points make sense and it's cool to read about other families and how they operate. Now the question for you, who do you put first? The marriage or the kids?