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Kallie88

The key to a happy marriage is...

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CallMeFeral
8 hours ago, LenaK said:

I get the impression some people think I am prioritising my relationship over the needs of the children, or that I am ignoring the children to fawn over my husband 😅  I can guarantee you that is not the case.  

I guess practically what it looks like are really just small things. My friend pointed out that we don't let the kids interrupt us. And thats true, if we are having a moment to cuddle or a conversation they can wait for their turn. We don't let the kids eat all of the berries/mango/ice-cream/other treat so that we have some to share together later. Bed times are sharp - the kids know that evenings are our time. Sometimes we send them to the park or to play quietly in their rooms for half an hour so that we can drink a cup of tea/coffee/gin/beer together. We have a stupid rotation system for who gets to sit next to who at the dinner table but sometimes DH and I want to sit together and then we will take priority - no matter whose turn it was.

These are just some small examples of what it looks like for us. None of these things mean our children do not get enough of us, but all of these things say, to each other and to the kids, that our relationship is important and that sometimes we come first. 

They get the most of us, both of us, every day, because they are children and because their needs are greater.  But making my relationship with DH a priority does not mean the children get less. It's not zero sum math.

I don't think anyone was suggesting that YOU are ignoring your children in an unbalanced way. I think it's more pointing out that as a general principle, prioritising the marital relationship can be taken to extremes and when that happens is damaging. As are most if not all extremes. 

It's interesting to me that most of the small things you've mentioned are things we would do as well, but with an underlying philosophy of mutual respect rather than marital priority. So we try to teach the kids not to interrupt us (but similarly try not to interrupt if one of us is in discussion with one of them). And if there is a treat it's divided amongst all who want it, not hogged by the kids (I'd like to say or adults, but I do still have my after-bedtime indulgences). We try to keep our bedtimes sharp but it's because I know the effects of sleep deprivation on their moods and attention the next day. And if we are having a cup of tea together we might ask them to leave us alone, but equivalently if we're doing something one on one with them, the other person will wait till that is done before interrupting with some other task. We don't have the dining table scenario so that I can't compare with! So obviously I don't think they are unbalanced things to do. It's interesting the difference in philosophy behind them. 

I don't really get the zero sum math comment. In most situations this comment is used for (i.e. quantifiable items like time, or ice cream), it IS actually zero sum math. If you two get ice cream then they get less. If you guys get time together without them, they are getting less time with you. If you are sitting next to each other for dinner then they are not sitting next to you (or however it works). BUT... that's ok. Nobody is saying kids should get  ALL of you. It's healthier in fact for kids not to get all of you. Or all of the dessert. It can be zero sum math and still be ok. Getting less is not bad, and sometimes is actually good. That's what balance means I think. 

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YodaTheWrinkledOne
14 minutes ago, Kreme said:

Agree with this. I grew up in a family where staying married was the priority and therefore the needs of the least mature person in the household (my father) were catered to first.   

I know that many people do it well, but I’ve seen a lot of families where it’s done badly and it can have lifelong consequences for the kids. 

 

Agree. And I have seen that.

But on the flip-side, I have also seen parents prioritise their children over their partner and once the kids leave home, there is not much to hold the marriage together, they have very little in common any more and practically lead separate lives.  In a few cases, the parents divorced shortly after the kids reached 18/20, citing that they stayed together for the sake of the kids. It's also pretty sad when some of my friends openly talk about how their parents don't even like each other more, they have no idea why they are still together.

As a PP said, 

10 hours ago, Kallie88 said:

I think these are big differences in how "prioritizing" a relationship can look. Much like anything, some people do it in a healthy way and others don't

This applies just as much to children as it does to partners. It's figuring out the balance that works for you, your partner and your kids (if you have any)

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CallMeFeral
7 hours ago, Ellie bean said:

I always just assumed everyone loved their kids more than they love their partner (not just in a different way but literally more) so this has been really interesting for me!

Yes me too! I think a lot of it is because I remember pre kids, DH and I assumed we would love each other more. And then once the first child was born, it became evident that not only did they come first, but that each of us WANTED them to come first to the other. To put it in the most clumsy literal terms ever - I think before we had kids, if there was a scenario where one of use had to choose between rescuing the other or our child, we thought we'd rescue the other. After kids, both of us would rather the other rescued the child, and honestly be quite furious if they chose otherwise. There's a lot of oversimplification in there, but it's the best analogy I can think of. I thought this happened to everyone who had kids, but now thinking about it that's quite a naive assumption. 

10 minutes ago, Ellie bean said:

^^sorry I meant I love my kids more

Backing out as I don’t think I’m making my point very well and I’m starting to annoy myself :)

I get what you mean.

I think some people are taking it as a criticism or as an 'I love my kids more than you love yours' thing, but I think you are just making an observation, not a right/wrong judgement about it (namely because that's what I'm experiencing). 

I wonder if it would be possible for people reading it to step back from this, and think of it more as a "ok, so that dress is black and blue to you, it's white and gold to me, I had no idea it wasn't to everybody" type of thing. Because I've really enjoyed this conversation, it's helped me clarify that there really are two different angles on this that people take (and both make total sense) and I now understand where the 'prioritise the relationship' advice is coming from, it always kind of confused me before. 

2 minutes ago, ~Jolly_F~ said:

When I met him, something clicked and I felt peace and knew that it would be alright. 

Aww ❤️

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Crombek

@Call me Al may be it comes down to your definition of love? I would also save the kids before DH, and expect him to do the same. I don't see that a loving them *more* though, just differently. 

Plus I see my love for my kids are a biologically pre programmed attachment bond to ensure the best survival of our genetic code. I can no more break it than make the sun set in the east. My love for DH however, as a pp stated, is a *choice* I make each and every day. It's not always smooth, it rarely is actually, but it is a conscious action that I take to reaffirm our family unit bonds on a regular basis. 

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Lou-bags
4 hours ago, rosie28 said:

I didn’t see anyone say they loved their partner more than their kids? Maybe I missed it. I think what some people are getting at is that their marriage is the foundation of their family and that keeping it strong keeps the whole family strong.  My husband’s needs don’t take priority over my children’s wants the vast majority of the time (let alone their needs), and the kids have everything they need and the majority of what they want, including most of our time and attention, but we work to keep our marriage strong which sometimes means we take time and energy for us too, and the kids know that. 

I think this must all come down to interpretation of language, certainly for me.

At least one PP has said they make their marriage ‘the most important’ relationship in the home. And that to me means that by default the other relationships are less important.

Thats different to saying you prioritize it. You can have multiple priorities but only one ‘most important’.

In subsequent posts PP clarified and so I don’t think that’s what she meant at all. But that’s what I was responding to with my post.

 

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Kallie88

I said early I don't love my kids more, but it certainly wasn't as a criticism of those that do. I feel the love differently between my partner and my kids, I love my mum differently, to be honest I love each of my kids differently too, even that isn't really the same. I don't think there's any right or wrong about it, it's just how you feel :)

I can't go back to quote, but to the pp that was talking about mismatched libido, this has been the biggest problem with my relationship and I've found it affecting our relationship more and more the longer it's unsolved. Sadly,  if dh and I don't last I can almost guarantee this will be why :(

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purplekitty

I do love my children unconditionally and not my husband, so differently.

As a PP said this bond is a biological imperative and appears to be much stronger in women than men.

There are things my husband could do that would break the trust and love and I've seen too much betrayal in relationships and marriages to not recognise that.

Most of us seem to be saying very similar things.

 

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doubting thomas

I am happy to admit I love my children more. I would be hard pressed to think of a single thing they could do to stop me loving them. I can think of a lot my DH could do ( not that I think he would). 

To the pp with the berries and the ice cream not given to the kids because the adults want them. I just buy enough for everyone. I am also not understanding the rotation system at the dinner table as that seems so regimented but I guess every family is different so if it works for the pp and their family then it does. 

 

 

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CallMeFeral
Posted (edited)
45 minutes ago, doubting thomas said:

I am also not understanding the rotation system at the dinner table as that seems so regimented but I guess every family is different so if it works for the pp and their family then it does. 

We used to have a bed rotation as I co sleep with all the kids. There would have to be a roster of who got to sleep in the main bed vs the single bed alongside, just to make it fair! Fortunately now they've settled into favourite spots. We also have a dishwasher rotation and a bin rotation because in a household with very closely aged kids there is always ONE thing seen as minorly more desirable and there is a big drama if there isn't a fair system. 

Edited by CallMeFeral
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Freddie'sMum

One of the worst times in our relationship was when DH and I couldn't pay our bills and were really struggling to keep the family afloat.  The communication between us broke down, the kids picked up on the stress we were under and it was an absolutely rotten time for all of us but esp DH and I.  We felt like we were walking on eggshells around each other.  If you have enough money to keep your heads above water (knowing you can make this month's rent / mortgage / buy food / buy essentials) then that is a huge advantage in my book. 

Oh and when we were going through all of that - we went to counselling to help us through.  It was worth it.

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FiveAus

I am coming at this from the angle of someone who has raised 4 kids together with their stepfather, through the hell that is the teenage years and have seen them all move out and go it alone, and we do not have empty nest syndrome. Not at all. We now have an adult to adult relationship with the kids, and we have a strong and loving relationship with each other.

I think this is a hard subject to get your head around when you're actively parenting children.

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doubting thomas
Posted (edited)

Hmm. Been there done that with the teenagers 3 times already. My answer doesn't change. 

My oldest is 26 and is well established in his career and lives out of home. I still will never stop loving him more than I love my DH. People are different. If I get a divorce life will go on, sad as that may be. However,  if one of my children,  for some reason, decided to never speak  to me again I would never, ever recover from that. 

I would accept their decision, but I would quietly  die inside. 

Edited by doubting thomas
trying to be clearer
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LenaK
9 hours ago, CallMeFeral said:

I don't really get the zero sum math comment. In most situations this comment is used for (i.e. quantifiable items like time, or ice cream), it IS actually zero sum math. If you two get ice cream then they get less. If you guys get time together without them, they are getting less time with you. If you are sitting next to each other for dinner then they are not sitting next to you (or however it works). BUT... that's ok. Nobody is saying kids should get  ALL of you. It's healthier in fact for kids not to get all of you. Or all of the dessert. It can be zero sum math and still be ok. Getting less is not bad, and sometimes is actually good. That's what balance means I think. 

In these specific examples it is zero sum math, but we don't run out of love. Love is not finite. There is always more where it came from. Like hugs... every time you give one, you get one back 😍 

9 hours ago, Lou-bags said:

I think this must all come down to interpretation of language, certainly for me.

At least one PP has said they make their marriage ‘the most important’ relationship in the home. And that to me means that by default the other relationships are less important.

Thats different to saying you prioritize it. You can have multiple priorities but only one ‘most important’.

In subsequent posts PP clarified and so I don’t think that’s what she meant at all. But that’s what I was responding to with my post.

 

yeah...its really hard to explain isn't it. This conversation is fascinating, and enlightening!

When I say our relationship is the "most important" in some ways I do actually mean it. If our relationship falls apart, so does the family.  I chose DH because I knew he would be a good parenting partner and a good life partner. We balance each other in ways that are good for the children and prioritising my relationship with DH is in the best interests of the children.

For me this does not translate to the kids are "less" important.  I don't love them less. The relationship is different. I love them different and I invest in the relationships differently. 

4 hours ago, doubting thomas said:

To the pp with the berries and the ice cream not given to the kids because the adults want them. I just buy enough for everyone. I am also not understanding the rotation system at the dinner table as that seems so regimented but I guess every family is different so if it works for the pp and their family then it does. 

We can buy enough for everyone and the kids will still eat it all 😂

And  I agree.... the rotation at the dinner table is absolutely stupid. The kids used fight over who gets to sit where, because they are kids, so we made a rotation system. Thats pretty much all there is to it. Its less of a thing now that they are getting older and the turns aren't enforced, they kind of just happen, but we had a "phase" where  everything had to be exactly the same. Thank god that's over  😂 

I guess my examples weren't great. Its really hard to put into words what it looks like when it really is so very subtle.  

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Aughra
On 29/06/2020 at 10:13 AM, YodaTheWrinkledOne said:

I know a number of women who are as horny as hell going into their 40s, LOL! 

I was after my divorce, but unfortunately the sex has been just as disappointing as it was in my marriage.

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CallMeFeral
1 hour ago, LenaK said:

In these specific examples it is zero sum math, but we don't run out of love. Love is not finite. There is always more where it came from. Like hugs... every time you give one, you get one back 😍 

Yes I had been going to add that to my post, but it seemed a bit obvious. 

Does remind my of my favourite ever Tropfest movie though! 

 

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RichardParker
On 28/06/2020 at 7:02 PM, Mozzie1 said:

Marrying the right person to start with.

I’ve done a lot of research on this topic over the past few years, but none of the advice works if you just weren’t right for each other to begin with :(.

There really should be a more scientific approach to selecting a life partner.  It's such an important decision - the consequences for getting it wrong are so huge, financially and emotionally.

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Mozzie1
On 03/07/2020 at 7:32 PM, Aughra said:

I was after my divorce, but unfortunately the sex has been just as disappointing as it was in my marriage.

Don’t tell me that!

On 02/07/2020 at 10:41 PM, CallMeFeral said:

I agree with this. The idea of putting the marital relationship over the kids one sits very uncomfortably with me. I would say for both my partner and I, we  generally prioritise the kids. And if he wasn't the same as me on that, there would be more friction than there already is. It's something we're matched on. 

But I also agree that the actions involved in prioritising this might serve more to equalise it. 

 

Same. The fact that DH is the same is one of our areas of values alignment. 

Maybe in the  end that's what matters more, that both members of the couple are aligned in that level of priority. 

 

 

I mean in the end, the idea that prioritising a particular relationship makes it's quality better may be true, but then would have to work both ways - i.e. couples who prioritise their relationship over the children may have a better marital relationship and worse relationship with their children.  I'm not saying it does, but for the logic to apply, it would have to apply to all. 

And for me, I feel like my children have one mother, they have no choice, I'd better do a good job of it. Whereas for DH and I, it would be awful and traumatic for us to split up, but there are other fish in the sea. I owe my children first priority, I brought them into this world and am responsible for them. 

 

In reality I guess it will always be about balance. De-prioritise the partner too much, the partnership and eventually the children will suffer. De-prioritise the children too much and they'll be traumatised, and then what's the point of a strong marriage with children who resent you? And yes, that does happen, I know a guy who has wasted much emotional energy  trying to 'impress' his parents who he felt ignored by his whole life because they were so wrapped up in each other.  The answer to these things always seems to lie in the middle. 

 

The flip side is that the marriage is the foundation on which the children’s lives are built.

i felt very neglected by DH after the kids were born, particularly number 2, as he was so caught up in meeting their needs he had no mental energy left for me. We are now facing separation as there is so much hurt and resentment from the last 5 years which is proving very difficult to come back from. Prioritising our relationship would have resulted in a better outcome for the kids.

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