I’m a mom who puts my marriage first. And I know that many of you are shaking your heads right now. Probably you are not judging me, but you simply feel bewildered. So please, allow me to elaborate. 

Prioritizing marriage does not mean I’ll let a hungry baby wail because I’m preparing a sandwich for my husband. We both know that babies need milk RIGHT NOW and that a grown man can wait a few minutes or maybe even put together a meal of his own.

It does not mean I would throw my children to the sharks if there wasn’t enough room in the lifeboat for us all. By the time I got into the boat, my heroic husband would have already carried us all safely onboard, and then jumped in and started treading water.

So to those of you who were wondering, how can she put her husband’s needs before a helpless child’s? That isn’t what this is about. This is about nurturing my marriage, and it’s motivated by the desire to meet the needs of my family as a unit.

Putting my marriage first looks like making sure my husband doesn’t feel forgotten, in many small ways.

It looks like buying him earplugs when the baby still needs to be tended to throughout the night and he needs his rest.

It looks like cosleeping, but with me in the middle, so we can still cuddle.

It looks like me taking a relaxing bath to recover from a long day of momming, and remembering to shave my legs while I’m in there.

It looks like date night once a month, because that’s literally all I can handle right now, but it makes a big difference.

It looks like holding off on devouring the kids’ mac ‘n cheese as I serve their dinner, and saving my appetite for something a little more sophisticated with him after bedtime.

It looks like making his appointments and balancing his checkbook for him like I always have, but now I do it while bouncing a baby and chasing a toddler. 

So why do I do this? Honestly, I just want to. I like him a lot. But there’s more to the story than that. My marriage relationship is of vital importance to my children’s well-being. Simply put, children benefit from parents who prioritize and invest in their relationship with each other. It gives them a sense of security, a feeling that they are part of something bigger than themselves. They see themselves as existing within a larger network of love connections. 

Listen, I didn’t grow up with a model like this. I know what it’s like on the other side. When you realize that two people only invest in their relationship for you, and not because they genuinely want to, it is so disappointing. Your foundation crumbles, and the pressure is enormous. If you haven’t experienced it, try to imagine knowing that if it weren’t for you, your family wouldn’t be a family. I felt like I was holding the roof up. I wanted those who loved me to already love each other because they wanted to, and for me to be a product of that, not the other way around.

Prioritizing a relationship isn’t quite the same as prioritizing a person. There’s no pecking order in our family, and no one I love “the most”. But my marriage relationship isn’t only for my husband and me. It’s supportive of every member of the family. 

We love our children, undoubtedly, but they don’t want us to exist simply to love them. They want to know that they exist because of our love, within our solidly established tribe. And that’s why I will always put my marriage first

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Elisa Cinelli

Elisa is a loving wife and mother residing in San Francisco, CA. She's passionate about child development and behavior. When she's not spending time with her family, you can find curled up with a good book and a cat, or working up a sweat at the yoga studio.