Once upon a time, I had a lifestyle that allowed me to spend a lot of time with my husband.
One day, along came twin babies and our whole world changed. My priorities changed and I felt quite justified in putting “my” babies first and hubby second (if you ask him, he’ll say that he came fifth, with the twin babies and the twin dogs all slotting in neatly before him).
His second place ranking bothered him.
It seemed that whilst my priorities didn’t resemble those of our former life, his priorities remained firmly in place. I still came first. The babies slotted in behind that, and the dogs… well… he still reminds me that they are dogs not gods.
His expectation of a first place ranking bothered me.
So we talked about it.
“Why on earth would you want to go away for a weekend without our perfect little babies?”
“You want to have sex? ARE YOU SERIOUS? I’m feeding twins and sleeping for 10 minutes every 2 hours, just look at me sideways, I dare you” (aka… do you feel lucky punk?)
“Can’t you just go to the party by yourself? I’m tired and the kids will be so sad if I’m not there when they wake”.
The Prior Generation Opinion
Apparently, my obsession with our kids wasn’t a healthy one. I recall some subtle and some not so subtle conversations with various family members from the prior generation about the importance of putting your husband before your children, including pearls of wisdom like “a family that plays together stays together”.
I argued with all of them. And if I had a redo of the first 12 months, I’d argue all over again.
(Sorry if you’re reading this Mum and Dad, but you were wrong… love you heaps… are we still catching up on the weekend? Maybe we can look at the slides of your second honeymoon in Thailand, the one that you went on when I was two weeks old, you know, when you left me with the neighbour. Yes I know that you’ve been married now for 40 years and you’re lucky to have each other because my brother and I don’t…ummm… visit often enough).
The Argument: Team Marriage vs Team Kids
This topic has popped up a few times over the last few months and the debate between hubby and I was recently reinitiated.
Hubby: “It’s in the best interest of our kids to see what a loving marriage looks like, we should put each other before our children.”
Me: “Ok, the house is on fire, want me to piggy back you out then run back in for the kids? Use your legs damn it, our kids can’t save themselves!”
Hubby: “Our kids will eventually move out of home and have their own lives, if we don’t put our marriage before them, what will be left?”
Me: “If you’re hungry and they’re hungry, I’m sorry, but I give you permission to use the sharp knife and cut your own piece of cheese honey, you’re a big boy now. Seriously, this is ridiculous; they can’t take care of themselves, you can!”
The Reality: Who Should Come First?
The question is absolutely ridiculous. It’s over simplified and should never be presented with multiple choice answers… unless of course the intent is to create an “us versus them” mentality and antagonise strong-headed parents everywhere!
If you take the time to listen to (the reasonable) arguments of those belonging to Team Marriage and Team Kids, you can actually mesh the two together into a more balanced situation for the whole family.
Now that Hubby has reassured me that he doesn’t expect me to carry him out of a burning building or deliver him a three-course meal whilst our children are on toilets waiting for their bottoms to be wiped, we finally agree:
The NEEDS of our children come before everything else.
Their safety and wellbeing is the number one priority for both of us.
The WANTS of my husband should come before the wants of my children.
If Hubby wants to watch the boring racing cars go round and round and round on the TV for a few hours and the kids want to watch Paws Patrol, I’ll be metaphorically standing alongside my hubby to support his choice (physically, I’ll be as far away from him as possible, the big boy race car shows drive me insane).
But it’s still not that simple. My opinion is formed based on the fact that I trust my husband not to be selfish, he loves me and our children, so I need to trust that he will be fair in his wants or that would never work either!
Of course, there will be exceptions to this too. You have a newborn, an illness in your family, you’re human just can’t help calling in to get an ice cream for your beautiful little balls of noisy dirt even though hubby is waiting on the porch locked out of the house in the pouring rain.
But maybe as a general rule, it’s time for our five-year-olds to learn that they aren’t the centre of the universe at home, so they aren’t disappointed when they go out in the real world.
Maybe a slight shift in the pecking order might be a healthy one for all of them… I mean us.
But only if the house isn’t on fire.