The Wisdom of “First Comes Love, Then Comes Marriage…”

Many of us may remember that old childhood poem that goes:

“John and Jane,

Sitting in a tree,

K-I-S-S-I-N-G.

First comes love,

Then comes marriage,

Then comes the baby

In the baby carriage.”

In my past experience, this poem was usually recited by pre-teen girls, in the presence of another pre-teen girl and/or her male crush, to tease them about their (sometimes mutual) attraction to each other.

Fast-forward to the adult years, when mutual attraction can lead to mutual love, then marriage, then the “baby in the baby carriage.”

Yesterday on Youbeauty.com, Sarah Speiser wrote an article entitled, “Why You Should Put Your Marriage Before Your Kids synthroid cost.”  She talked about how, in March 2013, E! News Host Giuliana Rancic caused an uproar among some parents, when she admitted that she and her husband “put our marriage first and our child second, because the best thing we can do for him is to have a strong marriage.”

The controversy arising from Ms. Rancic’s stance comes from those who believe it is selfish for parents to put themselves as a higher priority than their children.  However, Ms. Speiser quoted Laurie Puhn, author of the book, “Fight Less, Love More” as saying that “the issue is controversial because people aren’t really clear about what that means.  Putting your marriage first doesn’t mean neglecting your kids – it means investing in the fundamental glue that holds your family together.”  Ms. Puhn goes on to say, “Both people [spouses] need to feel respected, loved, and valued.  Without these elements, you won’t be spouses, only roommates and parents.  Neglect each other long enough and you’ll also be strangers.”

Ms. Puhn believes that people tend to confuse the idea of prioritizing the MARRIAGE with the idea of prioritizing the SPOUSE.  Many parents think that their spouse is an adult who can take care of themselves, so they should focus on the children, who need to be taken care of.  But, parents need to realize that their MARRIAGE is like one of their children, in the sense that it also needs to be nurtured and taken care of, so that it can continue to grow and thrive.  According to Ms. Puhn, “Making an effort to feed the marriage as a whole is vital for the health of the home.”

So what can parents do to nurture their marriage, while also juggling a career, kids, and a never-ending To-Do list?  I believe the “Top Three” things are:

1.  Set mutual life goals with your spouse.

Figure out together what your most important life goals are.  If one of those includes something along the lines of wanting to do what is  best for your kids, it seems that part of doing what is best for them usually includes keeping their family life (and hence, your marriage) happy and intact.

2.  Set your mutual daily schedule according to your mutual life goals.

So if you and your spouse agree that one of your mutual life goals is to keep your marriage and family intact, then you both need to figure out how to nurture and take care of it EVERY DAY  —  just as you do with your children.  This means carving out “couple time” with each other every day.  It does not have to be a lot, especially during the hectic weekdays (think, “couple  moments”).  Even little affectionate gestures like hand-holding, hugging, and kissing in between doing the evening chores and activities can go a long way toward feeling regularly connected to each other.  Of course, it is also important to regularly plan for larger blocks of “couple time”, such as date nights and weekend getaways.  These date nights and getaways help to remind both of you that you were lovers FIRST, before the kids came  —  and you still are, even with having the kids.

3.  Honor and make time for your separate hobbies, interests, and friendships.

Nurturing your marriage does not mean that you have to do everything together as a couple or as a family.  In fact, when you nurture yourself by doing the things you enjoy, and spending time with people you enjoy, you emotionally replenish yourself to be able to keep nurturing your marriage  —  even after the kids have grown up and started life on their own.  At that point, you and your spouse will be alone together again.  Then your life will have come full circle, going back to how you first began.

There may be times in your life when you find it hard to juggle all your life priorities.  That is when it may be a good idea to work with a licensed family counselor, who can help you figure out how to make time for the people and things that are most important to you.

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