There has been a lot of chatter about a recent poll that found 75% of women love their children more than their spouse. I definitely fall in with the majority of women who love their children the most, and felt strongly enough about my feelings to discuss them on the Dr. Drew show yesterday. And contrary to what the 25% might say, my marriage is strong and not destined to fail.
I’m a lucky girl. Mike is a great man and we have a very happy marriage. But love for a spouse is conditional. If Mike cheated on me, abused me or our children, or committed a heinous crime, you can bet I would kick him to the curb. But my love for my children is unconditional. I will always love my daughter, Annabel, no matter what. I may not always approve of her choices, she definitely will disappoint me, but I will always love her.
I felt this intense love for my daughters even before I gave birth to my first child, Madeline. Things were touch and go throughout my entire pregnancy with her, and after twenty-eight weeks, my doctors had to perform an emergency c-section. In the few short minutes before I was wheeled into the operating room, I made Mike promise that he would never let the doctors stop trying to save Maddie even if it meant putting my life at risk.
“What if you’d die otherwise?” he asked. “What if it was that serious?”
“Even then,” I said. “Maddie comes first.”
Mike wasn’t sure of this at the time, but later, after he’d first laid eyes on Maddie, he understood entirely. He told me that if there ever was a situation where it was him or one of our children he wanted me to save our children first.
This belief in putting our kids first only grew stronger when Maddie passed away seventeen months later. As horrible and life shattering an experience as that was, I am so thankful that when I reflect on our life together I can say she always came first. Honestly, I don’t know if I could live with myself if I looked back at those last few months with her and realized that I’d spent them on a flurry of date nights with Mike, or having chosen to give the majority of my kisses and cuddles to Mike instead of her.
One of the main arguments I hear from those who say they love their spouse more is that, while your kids leave after eighteen years, your spouse stays with you until death do you part. To me though, the fact that your children leave eventually is even more reason to make them your top priority. If your time to love and shape them is so relatively short, why not give them your all?
I also think it is disingenuous to say that your children leave after eighteen years as if they fall of the face of the earth. The vast majority of adults I know still have very close relationships with their parents, and often end up loving and caring for one of them after the other parent passes on. The one woman I know who doesn’t have a relationship with her parents told me it was because she felt like she was always competing with her father for her mother’s attention.
There’s absolutely nothing with loving your spouse more than anyone on the planet. But if that’s how you feel, I honestly (respectfully) wonder: why have children? Children will only take your attention away from your greatest love, your spouse. I know many couples who never had/won’t have children because their relationship is their number one priority, and I think it’s wonderful that they acknowledged that.
In the end though, the real problem isn’t with people who love their spouse a little more than their kids or people who love their kids a little more than their spouse. The problem is with people who exclusively love their kids or spouse over the other. I love my children more than anything in the world, but my love for my husband is right up there too. Similarly, I’m sure the vast majority of people who say they love their spouses more also love the stuffing out of their children.
Of course, if you and your spouse aren’t on the same page, everyone is in for a world of hurt. My husband and I are in complete agreement, and that’s why this works for our family.