Thursday, October 11, 2012

Your Husband or Your Kids?

Why do we polarize everything? (Relevant opening sentence on debate night, no?) I have read many blog posts and magazine articles about balancing your relationship with your husband and that with your kids. Except that none of these posts are actually about balance. Every author has come to the table with an agenda, your husband or your kids.

Who could choose?!

The pro-husband argument goes something like this. Your relationship with your husband is the primary relationship in your life. You need him for support and stability. Your marriage should take precedence over your children because your kids depend on you to model healthy adult relationships. If you cater to your kids, you teach them to be selfish. You also send the message to your husband that he is less important. The most extreme version of this position argues against making any significant changes to your social life. After all, your husband was there first.

The pro-children argument is focused on an adult's ability to understand more than a child can. Your husband can deal with delayed gratification, even if it must be delayed for years. By surrendering his place to the children, he models humble servanthood, as you do by caring for the kids. He is an adult and can deal with disappointment. The most extreme version of this position argues against ever going on a date just as a couple; that sends the message to your children that they are not an integral part of your family.

This evening, as we do once every month, my husband and I went out to dinner. We left Peter with my parents for a couple hours. We had fun, they had fun, Peter had fun. Tonight we have a friend visiting. He and my husband are socializing while I sit on the floor outside Peter's room, continuing our slow process of getting him to fall asleep alone.

I've never felt that I have to choose between my husband and my son. If Peter has a pressing need, my husband or I respond immediately. If it's something that can reasonably be delayed and I'm doing something for my husband (or myself), I include Peter in what I'm doing or suggest another activity for him until I'm available. When we have free time as a family in the evenings, we often let Peter pick where we're going, among a variety of choices that we adults enjoy. It's just not an issue. We're a family.

2 comments:

  1. It's posts like these that make me look forward to having a family even more than I already do. Sometimes I get caught up in thinking about how much I would be giving up, but reading about your thoughts on your family make me think about how much fun it can be, too. Thanks for always presenting a thoughtful post =)

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