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Getting married is usually one of the highlights of a person’s life, especially for women. We dream about it from the time we’re little girls and the moment we get that shiny ring on our finger, we are planning for our big day like it’s the only thing happening in our lives. At least that’s how it was for me.
As fun as getting married can be, what many couples fail to realize is that when the party ends, the real work of marriage begins. And believe me, sustaining a successful and happy marriage takes WORK. Not only that, it takes intention. These things are pretty easy when you’re first married; you have no one else to concentrate on except your spouse in those early years. But then you add a kid or two to the mix and all of a sudden, working on your marriage and focusing attention on your spouse gets put on the back burner.
Unfortunately, much of the time we wives are guilty of putting our children at the top of our priority list. It’s a natural and easy thing to do: for the first year or two they are completely dependent on you for their every need (especially if you breastfeed), and then as they get older they start getting involved in activities and suddenly you’re a chauffeur/activities coordinator. Poor old hubby will often get your leftover attention and energy…and it’s usually not much, if any at all.
I know you love your kids. They are your world and you are theirs. But if you want your kids to grow up to be healthy, thriving, balanced, decent, and functional men and women, there is something you need to start doing right now: put your husband first on your priority list.
5 Reasons to Put Your Husband First
Foundation of the family–your relationship with your husband is the foundation of your family. If your relationship is rocky and full of anger or resentment, so too will be the atmosphere of your home. Your children are very, very intuitive. They know when mom and dad are fighting or mad at each other or happy or sad. And your attitude toward their father will reflect in their attitudes. Building a strong, healthy, loving and united relationship with your husband will be a firm foundation upon which to build the rest of your family.
Be an example to your kids–your kids are looking to you to teach them what a relationship should look like. The way your treat your husband, the way he treats you, how you talk to and interact with one another, whether you show affection or say affectionate things; all of these things will be recorded and stored away in your kids’ little brains and referenced as they begin building their own relationships. Show them that you value your husband, that you think he is an important part of the family and that you respect him. Show them how to love someone the way they should expect to be loved one day.
Kids will leave you–like it or not, your kids won’t be in your home forever. In fact, sooner than later, they’ll start pulling away and seeking independence. If your primary focus is on your kids and their happiness for the 18 or so years that they live in your home and you fail to nurture the relationship you have with your spouse, you will soon be living with a stranger. Make getting to know your spouse a priority in your life again so that when it’s just the two of you, you will still have things in common and want to hang out!
Teach your kids they are not the center of universe–the fastest and surest way to raise selfish, self-centered, obnoxious adults is to treat your kids like they are the center of the universe at home. Catering to their every whim, coddling them, giving them everything they want, failing to teach them the art of patience, disappointment, humility and grace will ultimately do them far more harm than good. When it comes to preparing your kids for having a healthy relationship of their own, the best thing you can do is show them that their dad is your main priority and that you are not their slave.
Strengthen your marriage–it goes without saying that focusing your efforts on your husband will ultimately strengthen your marriage. When the two of you make sure your needs for love and respect between each other are met, your marriage will continue to thrive. Having a strong marriage is the single most important and valuable gift you can give to your kids: a family with two parents, a happy, healthy household and a palpable environment of love and contentment.
Practical Tips to Keeping Hubby First
Here are some practical tips you can incorporate into your daily life to keep your husband first on your priority list:
Regular date nights. Date nights are essential to a healthy relationship. Spending quality one-on-one time with your husband will help you both grow your relationship and keep tabs on what’s going on with one another on a regular basis. It will also help your children see that your alone time is important and essential to your overall family wellbeing.
Date night doesn’t have to cost a lot of money–you don’t even have to go out! Check out this post I wrote recently about at-home date nights and also check out Date Night In, a subscription service that will send you a themed date box every month to provide you with a great date night at home! I love these boxes!
Make an effort to get his opinion about things. As women, we make a lot of executive decisions around the house. It’s just the way it is sometimes. Our husbands are usually really busy at work and don’t have time to worry about the mundane details of home life. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have an opinion, however. Even if you don’t think your husband would really care what color you paint the guest bathroom or whether you make pot roast or roast chicken for dinner tonight, ask him anyway. Tell him you’d like to hear his opinion and then truly listen to him when he gives it. He may not have much to say about it, but I guarantee he’ll appreciate that you valued his thoughts on the subject enough to ask.
Make home a sanctuary for him. This is a tough one because life with kids can be pretty chaotic. I’m not suggesting here that you have to have the house spotless and the children in freshly pressed frocks with classical music playing while you cook a scratch dinner when he walks in the door, but I do think it would make a world of good to maybe just tidy up a bit and prepare the kids to welcome Daddy home.
You have to remember that your husband has been working all day and he’s probably managed a bit of stress in his work life. He probably just wants to come home and unwind a bit before he has to start the whole thing over again tomorrow. He’s looking forward to seeing his family and being in his home, but then he walks into complete chaos: the kids screaming, you screaming at the kids, the house looks like a tornado ripped through it and before he can even say hello someone is tattling on someone else or a baby with a dirty diaper is shoved into his arms.
I get it, I totally do. I can tell you that I am totally guilty of all of this. By the end of the day, I am counting down the minutes until Daddy gets home so I can have JUST TWO MINUTES to myself. It takes everything in me not to just spew all my frustrations of the day on him the minute he walks in the door (after all, I haven’t had a conversation with an adult for nearly 12 hours). But I have to really take a step back and remember that his day was hard too and that he deserves the chance to, at the very least, change his clothes and put down his work bag before diving right into family chaos.
It has taken me a long time, but I’m finally starting to make an effort to make our home a sanctuary for my husband when he comes home because I can see how much that effort affects him and the rest of us for the rest of the evening.
Ask his preference and follow through. One thing that I really struggled with after we had kids was keeping the house clean, getting dinner on the table, and caring for the kids, all while NOT looking like a hot mess. After trying to do it all and failing one too many times, I told my husband to give me his preference: he could either have (1) a hot wife, (2) a clean house, (3) a hot meal, or (4) well groomed and quietly engaged children, but he could not have it all. I told him that I would do the one thing that mattered most to him, and I would do my best on the rest, but it wasn’t likely to all happen at once. This really helped us to understand what each of us valued in our home life and it also helped him to understand that I wasn’t willing to sacrifice my sanity to try to reach perfection.
Put down your phones. This is a big one these days. And, personally, a hard one for me. As a blogger and an influencer, I am constantly on my phone or on my computer. It’s very hard for me to tear myself away from my devices. But when my husband is home, I try to make a conscious effort to engage in conversation with him instead of losing myself in my phone. He’s not as bad about this because he hates social media (what is that even like?!), so this one is all on me. In all honesty, I have to work on this one more because I would hate to see my marriage suffer because I preferred online “relationships” and pretty feeds over the company of my husband.
Share in each other’s passions. Your husband may love to hunt, and you may love to shop. He may like to spend weekends watching football while you’d rather hit up a new wine bar. It’s totally normal and healthy for each of you to have individual passions and engage in them regularly. But it’s also important that you engage in your spouse’s passions, even if it’s not something you’re passionate about.
Sit down and talk to your husband about a passion of his that you can both do together, and then choose one of yours in which he wouldn’t mind joining you. Make it a habit to occasionally participate in each other’s passions because it shows your spouse that you love them enough to want to spend time with them doing what they love, even if it’s not your cup of tea. Who knows, maybe you’ll grow to enjoy it too!
Pray for (and with) each other. If you are a person of faith, this should be the single most important way you keep your spouse first in your life. I have personally witnessed crumbling marriages built back up through the power of prayer. If your spouse doesn’t share your faith, pray for him on your own. But if you are a couple that shares a faith, there is nothing more profoundly impactful for the health of your marriage that you can do together than pray as a couple.
And if you’re so inclined, take it a step further and do a Bible study together. My friends at Date Night In just launched a new box called Faith Night In that aims to help you and your spouse strengthen your relationship with God and with each other. Each box provides you with a faith-based date that focuses on a new relatable biblical principal to study and learn together. I am completely in love with this new box and my husband and I will be having our Faith Night In date night this weekend!
Do you find it difficult to put your spouse first in your marriage? What are some practical ways you have found to keep your husband a priority?