I went to premarital counseling, I read the books, I know the rule: if you want to have a healthy and happy marriage, you should keep your spouse first. I love the idea of having my husband be my priority and putting our relationship above everything else.

If I’m brutally honest though, this usually isn’t the case. Not only do my kids get more of my time and energy, but they also get way more of my patience, kindness and grace.

Let me share some examples.

My toddler will destroy our home seconds after I finally got it clean. I sigh, shake my head, and think to myself, “Man, kids are messy.”

My husband will leave a pair of shoes next to the front door and I make a passive aggressive comment about how hard it must be for him to put those shoes in the closet two feet away.

My kids will scream and tantrum over me not cutting an apple correctly. I try to calm them, hug them, and talk them through the tantrum until we find a resolution.

My husband will be slightly “short” with me (usually just because he’s tired) and I become offended by how he is treating me.

My kids keep me up all night, every single night and every day I remind myself that they are worth getting up for, worth being tired for, and that this season will pass.

My husband breathes heavily once in his sleep and I have visuals in my mind about duct-taping his mouth shut.

You see, it’s not that I don’t love my husband because I absolutely adore that man. But he rarely gets the best of me.

I know how bad this all sounds. Truly, I know it isn’t right.

Sometimes it feels like I only have so much patience to give, and I just assume the kids need it more than he does. Somewhere in my mind I believe I could do damage to my children by not being as patient and kind to them. So I work really hard at being a grace-filled and calm mom. And honestly, I’m pretty good at it.

Truthfully, I have come to believe that my husband can handle me when I’m empty, so I might as well put the best parts of me, and my energy, towards the kids.

Poor guy.

The real truth is, I could do a lot of damage to my marriage, too.

A good, healthy marriage doesn’t come naturally and it requires my time and effort. It needs my kindness, grace and patience.

What a bummer it would be to neglect our marriage during this time and then find later on that I don’t even know how to pour into him because I haven’t in years.

So today, I choose to be a little more balanced in where I put my time and energy. I choose to intentionally show my husband kindness and love.

At the end of the day, he is the one who stays when the kids grow and leave.

He is the one I get to do this life with.

And that is a blessing that deserves so much of my effort.

You may also like:

To My Husband—I Don’t Say It Enough: Thank You For Being Our Everything

We Choose Our Covenant Every Day

Dear Husband, I Loved You First

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Kelli Bachara

Kelli Bachara is a wife and mom to two sweet kiddos. She is a mental health therapist, writer, and podcaster. Kelli loves her Goldendoodle, coffee, and this beautiful thing called life. You can find her at www.kellibachara.com.