“The greatest gift you can give your child is a strong relationship between the two of you.”
This quote from Dr. John Gottman highlights the pivotal part a happy family is built on – a strong marriage. Interestingly, it goes contrary to the mistaken efforts of so many who put their children before everything else.
But isn’t your first priority supposed to be your children? Would it not be selfish to put your partner first?
Sadly, couples who put their own marriage before their children are often criticized. Yet, research has shown that the children from families where spouses put their relationship with each other first most often do better in life than children whose parents put them above all.
Consider, for a moment, how putting your partner first can benefit the whole family.
How the Entire Family Benefits from a Healthy Marriage
Putting your partner first fosters a strong relationship bond and creates a happy and healthy marriage – the foundation of a family. Every member of the family, including the children, benefit from the stability of this foundation. How?
1. It allows children to become independent, responsible, and emotionally balanced adults
When you starve your relationship with each other, it can become weak and unhappy. With a weak foundation, your children lose out on the support they need for developing into independent and responsible adults. In contrast, a strong marriage, where you show interest in each other, display respect and affection for one another, and work as a team makes your children feel safe and loved.
2. It promotes less anxious and exhausted parents and less demanding and entitled children
The more attention you shower your children with, the more exhausted and anxious you usually become. Not only that, but making your children the center of everything often makes them more dissatisfied and can easily turn them into adults who think everything has to revolve around them.
3. It makes it easier to set, respect, and enforce boundaries
When you drift apart and don’t act like a team, one of you may draw closer to your children. But that makes it much harder to see clearly what boundaries your child needs to develop their personality well. Plus, you may also put more pressure on your child to fulfill your emotional need for success. Both are unhealthy patterns. Conversely, if you’re not over-involved nor use your children as an extension of your own success, you’re much less likely to cripple your children’s development.
4. It helps children grow up with good guidance and the example of a loving marriage
By putting your partner first, you children often do better in school and social situations because you taught them, by example, how to treat others with respect and handle conflict. Your example also shows them what a healthy and happy marriage should look like. This makes it more likely that your children will learn how to create such a relationship themselves and marry someone who will put them first.
5. It helps parents to maintain a solid marriage beyond the child-rearing years
Your relationship existed since before your children were born and you certainly want it to remain long after they leave home. Putting your partner first throughout the child-rearing years will contribute to continually having a close bond once your nest is empty and it’s just the two of you again.
Certainly, prioritizing your marriage while raising children isn’t easy, but it’s worth it, as it benefits the entire family. So, don’t take your relationship for granted. Carve out the time, put each other first, and fight for staying close and connected. Your family’s happiness depends on it.