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Who's Your # 1 Priority - Your Spouse or Kids?

  • Jim Daly Jim Daly is president and chief executive officer of Focus on the Family, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping families thrive.
  • 2013 Mar 06

So, if you're married and have children, who's your first priority - your spouse or the kids?

Entertainment reporter and reality TV personality Giuliana Rancic sparked something of a controversy last week when she said she puts her marriage first over motherhood. Her comments made headlines across the nation and spurred a debate over how couples should prioritize relationships.

It’s a good conversation to have.

Mrs. Rancic says she puts her husband, Bill, first because “the best thing we can do for him [son Edward Duke] is have a strong marriage.”

She has her supporters – one commenter to an online story said, “Putting your marriage first gives the child a stable, loving home to grow up in,” while others pointed out that some marriages fall apart when spouses stop making each other a priority.

Critics on the other side of this issue say couples should make the children the center of the home – after all a marriage may not last, they say, but you’re a parent forever.

That's what you call cynicism.

The logic goes like this: Husbands can take care of themselves; kids can’t.

I think they're missing the point. Nobody is suggesting letting elementary-aged children fend for themselves over a weekend so that you and your spouse can escape to a romantic holiday up in the mountains.

It comes down to this: Are the two of you a team acting as one voice, looking out for the other, praying for each other, lifting the other up in the eyes of your children?

Or does your entire focus revolve around the tediousness of tasks involving the kids at the complete expense of your spouse?

Of course if you're a parent of young children much of your day is consumed with feeding and changing diapers - and maybe also keeping them from destroying the house. There are practical demands to meet, but even still, what is your attitude toward the "pecking order" in your home?

I know a guy who says he's # 5 on his wife's list - after the kids, the grandchildren, her girlfriends and the family dog.

For the last twelve years since we’ve been blessed with children Jean and I have tried to find a good balance. We haven't always hit the mark but we never stop trying. Through it all, though, I try to remember the vows I made to Jean at the altar that she would always have the top spot in my heart, after the Lord, of course.

Only you can answer this question of priority for yourself. But if you want to have the best chance at a happy and healthy home life – for you and your kids - you're wise to make sure that you and your spouse make the other a priority.

Yet here's the paradox:

If you become consumed with worrying about being your spouse’s priority you're going to make yourself miserable. Don't keep score. Embrace a spirit of blessed self-forgetfulness. Instead of worrying about what you're going to get, spend your time actively loving your spouse and children - and give everything you've got!

I’m interested to hear from you.

How does this debate strike you?

What do you think is best: marriage first, or children first?


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