Your kids are supposed to leave you…

…your spouse isn’t.

What’s more common though are parents putting all the attention and energy and focus and devotion on the kids to the neglect of their spouse. And usually there are also some unresolved issues buried in there that made taking care of the kids an excuse to not deal with the issues.

As I caught up with various friends and the topic of family comes up, I realized I’ve heard and witnessed this in the parents of my friends and even in family. It wasn’t apparent before. Maybe because we were young, self absorbed, looking forward to our own shiny, promising future. Even if they fought we probably just rolled out eyes, plug in the ear buds, or close the door in our room. But now that we’ve left the nest or see that the nest is nearly empty, we can see that Mom and Dad seem like strangers to each other. The only conversation, actually I can’t even call it that…the only interaction is in verbal reminders of pick up/drop off schedules or instructions for some task. Or passive criticism. Or outright complaints.

Not exactly the model of marriage we kids get excited about when we consider marriage for ourselves. My parents have been through rough valleys but thankfully they’ve worked it out. They can argue like an old married couple while making a pot of soup for me but they hold hands when they walk, or even when they drive together. And thirty-six years of marriage later, they still giggle. That makes me excited about marriage.

Maybe what’s also helped my generation identify common marriage issues is the plethora of resources available to help couples identify and work through destructive habits or reactions in their relationship. As well as how build each other up or how to show love & appreciation in ways your spouse will receive as meaningful.

I read this somewhere, and I paraphrase, that if you focus on being a great parent, you’re likely a bad spouse. Being a bad spouse means your marriage suffers, which means your children suffer. But focusing on being a good spouse first will build a good marriage. A good marriage enables you to be a good parent.

This idea has stuck in my head such that I tell Nessness “Daddy’s my first priority” even if it’s only to remind myself.

Anyone else relate or have another perspective?

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