Recently in a dad-blogging forum—because I frequent such places now—somebody posted a link to this babble.com article, “Why I Don’t Put My Husband Before Our Children,” which is about, well, exactly what the title says.
Someone else contrasted that essay with this one from the New York Times, “Truly, Madly, Guiltily,” which presents the opposite perspective.
In case you’re too engrossed in my own writing (or lazy) to follow the links, here’s a summary: In the first piece, a mom discusses the challenges of dealing with three children and the tolls that takes on a marriage—and why she’s OK with that, for now. In the second piece—written years ago, actually—a mother explores the idea that her children are orbiting moons, while her husband is the sun. (She also explores that topic though a lens of sexual attraction, so hey!)
Intrigued by the two views, but leaning very heavily toward the second (given the two choices; there’s no angle here on children vs. no children or single vs. married), I was interested in hearing what my wife thought. So I sent her the links.
She responded pretty quickly, sending me what I now give to you as the first guest post in the Shallows (almost guest post, because I’ve still written a fair bit).
On the first essay: “That mom is going to wake up one day to the realization that the ‘hard’ part of parenting doesn’t end after the children are toddlers. One day she will realize she has no idea who the man is in the bed next to her. Children are needy and exhausting little humans. They will always demand all of you. You make choices about your priorities and how you manage those demands. I think her attitude leads to the kind of marriage that ‘stays together for the kids’ and ends as soon as the kids are out of the house because she and her husband made the choice to not make each other their priority.”
Wow! Maybe I should turn this blog over to her more often.
She continued: “The second one I tend to agree more with (obviously). As I have said before—I married you because I chose you. Our children are needy, exhausting blessings—but you (and being united with you in our parenting) always comes first. You can’t be united if you don’t make each other a priority (or don’t even spend time together). That time does not necessarily have to be romantic weekends away like she says (though that sounds wonderful); it does have to be a regular commitment to communication and connection. Children learn from what is modeled for them—I would hope that we model a love that is committed, playful, supportive, and passionate. I also think sex is a reflection of the intimacy and emotional connection that is in a marriage. I’m glad she talked about enjoying her sex life (though I personally would have been more bold in challenging the play group moms and their negative attitudes)! I actually have had the same thoughts she has about how I would react if our children died versus if you died.”
I’ve been thinking of starting a place in the Shallows for the bigger-issue serious stuff, called the Deep End, and this post would certainly land there.
What do you think?
(P.S. This is an old drawing of Sarah, from back when she had rectangle-framed glasses. Also, as you can see, the straight lines of her eyewear influenced the hole out of which she’s sticking.)