By Casey Mullins
If you want your marriage to survive now that you have kids, then you MUST read this. I must say I love my kids very much, but I do not love them more than my husband!
The love I have for my husband is deeper and more exciting than the love I have for my kids. He is my lover, my confidant, and my biggest fan. I am the same for him. It is so clear to me as a wife, mother, and psychologist that if I do not have a strong, healthy, and connected marriage, my mothering abilities are not on track.
Many of the couples with younger children that I see in my private practice find themselves exhausted, angry, and disconnected in their marriage. This is often because the woman focuses on the kids while the husband throws himself into his work.
This may seem like a good idea for a time, but as this goes on, the relationship will begin to suffer greatly. When we get married and before we have kids, as couples, we have the time, energy, and money to devote to our relationship.
We go out to dinner and a movie without a second thought. We can have sex any time without worrying if a baby will wake up or a toddler will come crashing through the door. Once kids enter the picture, we forget what being loved and honored by our partner (without spit up on us) feels like.
The mistake many moms make is they believe that if they are a good mother, their husband will be fine and he will understand.
In reality, the husband may feel pushed out of the parenting role and begrudgingly give up trying to have a relationship with his wife. As a result, they each become resentful of what the other “isn’t” doing in regards to both the kids and the marriage.
In this scenario, the man will continue to retreat and do less and less for the kids, while the woman becomes angrier at this turn of events. She then gives less and less energy to her spouse, which makes him disconnect further and further.
The descent into divorce has begun.
One of the mistakes reality parents Jon and Kate Gosselin made was “putting their kids first.” Every time I heard them say that phrase, it was like nails on a chalkboard to my ears. If they had just devoted some time to their relationship, I believe they wouldn’t have found themselves divorcing and creating such trauma and drama for the entire family.
Good mothers and fathers must start by being a good wives and husbands.
If your emotional needs are not being met by your husband, you will try to fulfill these needs through your kids or elsewhere, which isn’t healthy or positive for the marriage or for your kids. Your husband will also reach outside the marriage to get his emotional and physical needs met. Remember, your esteem as a partner is not the same as your esteem as a parent, but they do directly impact each other.
Do not think your marriage can survive until the children are 18 and off to college unless you start dedicating real time and real energy to your relationship.
I always tell my couples that you are not just setting an example as a mother and father, but even more importantly, your children are watching you to see what being a good wife and husband means.