When Colby and I reconciled our marriage, I had learned one pretty alarming bit of advice that was completely opposite of what I was raised to believe. Of course, if you read that last sentence again you may make note of one KEY part of it: Colby and I were separated for over 2 years. Obviously we were doing something wrong the first time around. This time, I had to tell my kids the cold hard truth:
Sorry, Kids, I love your dad more than you.
Well, once I was able to tell myself this — and believe it. I am sure there are several parents out there that feel the same way I did about it. It was hard to fathom that my children, birthed from my body, would actually fall second to their dad. After all, the man that had left me, came back, and we were now trying to put back together pieces of our lives. My kids, at least the older two, had been constant over the past several years. This was not going to be easy.
Or so I thought.
It actually came natural to us both. We were completely dedicated to our marriage and as we began having date nights, sharing late night talks, and simply living the married life, loving Colby more than the kids was easy. Over the years as this developed more within the realms of our family, we began to realize how much it actually helped not just our marriage, but our entire family.
We realized that when our marriage was in unity, so was our family. When Colby and I live in harmony with each other, it seems as though everything else just falls into place. If an issue arises with our kids, we can stand on a more united front. When we face troubles, we know we have each other to lean on. It’s as Theodore Hesburgh states, “The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.”
One thing I realized about myself during the separation was that, because I was not feeling loved by my husband, I was searching for that love and emotional fulfillment from my kids. They were not made for that! The love I share with Colby is different — as it should be — and it’s because of that love we have our children. But, it’s that emotional void that often causes spouses to stray and find their fulfillment in someone other than their partner.
It was not hard to see that our oldest believed she was the absolute center of the universe. The world revolved around her and, well, Colby and I made her believe that. We gave her everything we possibly could, including all of our undivided love and attention. Our marriage fell to the wayside when we stopped pouring into each other and pouring it all into our children instead (not to say this caused our separation, just that it played into just one of may many parts. I must make sure you understand we never blamed our children for our failures). It was not a reason for our break up, simply a by-product of what we were facing already. Focusing on each other keeps us aligned in our marriage.
Finally, the most important aspect for me personally, is that by loving their daddy more than them, we are modeling a happy marriage filled with love. My parents are both the modest-type when it comes to public displays of affection. I did not see much of it growing up and the word “love” was not spoken often in our home. It’s not that I thought there was no love, but my mom continuously stated that “the kids come first.”
This is the reason I believed it. It’s what I grew up hearing. But, 22 years into my own marriage now, I can respectfully say I disagree. Setting an example of what love looks like for our children will help them have healthy relationships in their future. Knowing they can feel secure in our marriage, therefore feel more in tune with their own feelings, as well as those of their siblings, is everything.
Oh, and don’t forget, who will be there for you to love once the kids are all out of the house? Your spouse! Cultivate that relationship now and enjoy it when the kids have all flown the nest later! You will be glad you did.
Controversial? Yes. Especially when half of all marriages fail nowadays. Single parents will obviously disagree. Those in unhappy marriages will as well. Honestly, even those in good marriages will not be sure they want to give it a try. But, for Colby and I, it changed everything. Remember though, you don’t have to be with your spouse in order to love them. Love is a verb that you choose to do every day. Respecting your partner for the sake of the children can still be a form of loving them.
All in all, do what works for your marriage, your family. I am no expert by any means. I simply know what helped Colby and I get to the point where we are now — completely head-over-heels in love with each other more every day.
Need a Dallas Photographer? Check out my friend at Amy Hendricks Photography. She took all the family photos you see above and is amazing!