The experts are clear that if you prioritize your children over your marriage, you are hurting the children and the marriage. Well-known researchers John and Julie Gottmann suggest picturing your marriage as the cradle that holds your child’s heart. If there is turbulence or instability in that cradle it disturbs your child’s heart. Keeping the cradle strong and peaceful ensures your child’s long-term wellbeing. As a child of divorce, I can attest to the impact of the loss of an intact family. Memories and ripples of a family fracture never go away. Conversely, a strong marriage protects your child’s heart during his or her development into adulthood and prepares him or her for stable future relationships.
There is some controversy about whether one’s marriage or one’s children should come first. Let’s be clear: children’s basic needs must come first. No one is advocating neglecting children’s physical or emotional health. That being said, the marriage should take priority over the children. Most of us go way overboard after meeting the basic needs for our children, and must be reminded that children can thrive without scouts or dance lessons three times a week, but they can’t thrive when their family is on shaky ground. Why I Love My Kid More Than My Husband
More from YourTango: Was Jesus Really Married? Christian Experts Sound In
More from YourTango: One Person Doesn't Really "Complete You" Or Your Marriage
What’s wrong with a child-centered marriage? It doesn’t sound so bad. All parents want their child’s childhood to be better than their own. Particularly for parents who had less-than-perfect childhoods, it can be tempting to focus on nothing but your beautiful child’s development and future. But kids need a stable home first. Tension at home can lead to anxiety, depression and aggression in children. Why Having Children May Wreck A Marriage
David Code, author of To Raise Happy Kids, Put Your Marriage First says the biggest myth of parenting is that the more attention we give our kids, the better they will turn out. The truth, he says, is that over-parenting has created a generation of kids who are more troubled, entitled and needy. Just as we can spoil a child with material goods, we can coddle our children with too much attention, stifling their ability to make decisions and learn from mistakes. One reason we focus too much on the children is that we often find it easier to be with our kids than our partners. "We don’t realize we’re using our kids as an escape from our spouses," says Code. Keeping our focus on our kids also provides a poor role model for how to have a satisfying relationship. (Read more about Code’s book.)