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Kids Vs. Spouse: Who Do You Love More?

By Whit Honea |

Thanks in part to the Wall Street Journal we now have something new for parents to argue about. In other news I’m renting soapboxes!

The latest hot topic can be found in a WSJ Market Watch piece on a DDB Worldwide Communications Group Life Style Study which, among over things, reveals that “75% of mothers admit they love their children more than their spouses.” (Spouse is their language, but any significant other will do.)

They claim that the results are “surprising” which is the only thing I find surprising at all.

It reminds me of a post I read a few years ago on a blog that I wish I could source, but can’t actually recall, in which the man writing stated that he, in the hypothetical event of a fire, would save his wife before his children. He made the case that she was the love of his life and may have used the term “soulmate” on more than one occasion. I commented to the contrary and was in the minority.

That is not to say that I don’t applaud true love — The Princess Bride is one of my favorite movies. However, the idea of loving my spouse more than my children is one that I cannot comprehend.

For the record, my wife feels the same way.

This is not to suggest that I do not love my wife, and in the blogger’s example of a fire you can bet that the moment the kids are safe I’m going right back in for her. But pulling her to safety at the risk of the kids? Never.

I sleep well knowing my wife would do the same.

There are a million song lyrics and tons of late night poetry to suggest that the bonds of love are strongest between two people that have fallen deep in it, but in my own personal experience, it wasn’t until that moment when my first son was born that the glory of love really hit me. And it hit me hard.

I remember standing in the rain outside of the hospital. It was morning, but still dark, and I made the phone calls that one makes when they have a brand new baby and people waiting to know. I may have been crying. That was when things opened inside of me that I never knew were closed, and I understood what love really is.

Then I felt guilty knowing that my parents could feel something so strong for me and that I had repaid them with grade school tantrums and high school shenanigans. I apologized to them immediately.

I guess what it comes down to, and I mean this with the utmost respect to those that have found themselves in these terrible situations, is what the above fire scenario implies — that if something were to happen to my wife I know that I would survive. It would be sad, awful, and tragic, to be sure, but I would survive because my boys would need me to do so. She would fend the same.

If something were to happen to my children, the concept of such being too painful to even consider for anything longer than this paragraph, I do not think I would be able to take it.

I know people that have suffered such heartache in their lives, and I am awed by their strength and admire them greatly. Even so, I am not sure that such things live inside me.

Forgive me if I’m rambling, this is an opinion piece, and a highly personal one at that, so I think such things are warranted, but that probably doesn’t make them any easier to follow.

The bottom line is that I am Team Kid, and so is my wife. I love her all the more for it.

Who do you love more?


Whit HoneaRead more from Whit Honea at his site Honea Express and the popular group blog DadCentric. You can follow Whit on the Twitter or Pinterest (his opinions are his own and do not reflect those of Babble or most rational people).


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About Whit Honea


Whit Honea

Whit Honea is an award-winning writer living in the greater Los Angeles area with his wife, two boys, and too many pets. His personal blog, Honea Express, is updated quarterly (give or take.) Read bio and latest posts → Read Whit Honea's latest posts →

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8 thoughts on “Kids Vs. Spouse: Who Do You Love More?

  1. neal says:

    This is a really interesting piece to me, and makes me think about a story on NPR’s Radiolab titled “Morality” in which the following scenario is presented (it might have been from the MASH finale?):
    In the episode, a group of people is hiding from the Vietcong. There is a mother with a crying baby. It is assumed that if the baby keeps crying, the enemy will find them, and everyone in the group will be killed. Alternatively, the mother can smother the baby to death, and save everyone but the baby.
    Some people feel that the maximum number of lives saved makes the decision a no-brainer: the baby should be smothered. They know it would be tragic, but necessary. Others agree, but feel that there is no way they could do that to their own kid, even if it meant their own death.
    I take it a little further. To me, children are the most important things on this earth. To harm a child is the worst that a person can do. And whatever OTHER people (ie, the Vietcong) may end up doing to children, I am not responsible for it, and my mandate is to never harm them, not ever. From my perspective, it is basically the role of adults to protect and nurture children, no matter the consequences. If many adults die in the noble cause of protecting children, I consider that a worthy way to go. My wife agrees. Either of us would die to save our daughter; when we decided to have her, my wife had already made the decision. It took until the squalling creature actually came out that I was converted.
    Having said that, I know it’s not as simple as I make it out to seem. I mean, I hated the idea of my wife dying in childbirth. Or even risking her life for a child that would be extremely pre-term. I didn’t feel it was right for her to say that it was worth it to her. Basically, she mattered more to me than my unborn child. But when I saw Addison for the first time, saw how real and how perfectly and intricately developed she was, I think something flipped.
    Also, there’s the idea behind Toni Morrison’s Beloved, where a mother tries to kill her children (kills one) so that they won’t be taken by slavers and end up slaves in pre-civil war America. In the mother’s mind, she’s saving her children. I don’t think I’d make the same decision…but then, I’ve never been subjected to the worst of slavery.
    I don’t know, interesting post. Brings up a lot of issues. And when I listened the NPR piece, I was running on the treadmill with tears streaming down my face like a blubbering idiot.

  2. Claire says:

    Okay, wait, in the fire scenario, that’s different. My husband can get himself out. He and I are obligated to care for our daughter with our lives. We are not tkaing care of her only because we love her, but because we dedicated our lives to loving and keeping her safe. So, of course, I would save my daughter first.
    I still love my husband more though. He is my soulmate. My child, is my little joy and I love her desperately, but she is not my friend, and we do not have a peer relationship. I love them differently, and I am pretty sure that I love my husband more.
    Interestingly, 25% is aout the same rate at which postpartum depression occurs. I wonder if there is a connection.

  3. Kim Q says:

    In the fire scenario I would save my kids first- because they NEED me to save them. Regardless of anything else. And they have their whole lives ahead of them. My husband would do the same- I say this without any doubt in my mind. Which is exactly how it should be, no matter our love for each other.

  4. Miss Britt says:

    Next week let’s talk about whether or not we lock our doors when we’re having sex and if doing so makes one a bad parent.

  5. Daddy Files says:

    No one’s going to rescue the dog first??

  6. Courtney says:

    I’m also surprised this is surprising; I would have guessed most people love their children more. Which, as it turns out, is the case. In the scenario you mentioned or any other, my feeling is that my husband is an adult and can take care of himself. My baby cannot, and my highest obligation, as his mother, is to see to his needs. Then comes my husband, whom I love dearly, then everyone else. I should hope he feels the same way.

  7. Kendra says:

    This is interesting. The love I have for my husband versus the love I have for my kids is different. My relationship with my husband fulfills different needs than my relationship with my children. I really can’t compare them as loving one more than the other. It seems to cheat each relationship to say that I love one more than the other because I love them in different ways. It’s like comparing apples and oranges.

  8. Trish Smith says:

    How funny, my husband and I have had the same conversation (the “who would you rescue in a fire” conversation), and we agree that we would save Bunker Monkey first. It’s our job to take care of him – it’s just that simple.

    As for who I love more, it’s not entirely honest to say I love my kid “more” – it’s a different kind of love that I have for him vs my husband. If I could only live with one of them, though, I’d choose my child. It sounds heartless, but my husband can be replaced – I love him, of course, and want to spend the rest of my life with him, but I don’t believe in that whole “soulmate” thing. People lose spouses/significant others all the time, whether through divorce, death, or whatever, and they’re able to move on and find someone to love. In fact, we’ve all done it – lost someone in a relationship and had to find someone new. But I’m with you, WH – if I lost my son, I don’t think I would survive the experience. Not sane, and not whole.

    Team Kid, all the way!

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