If someone were to ask you pointblank right now whom you love more between your spouse and your kids, who would you choose?
It’s not hard to imagine that many would say, “My kids, of course!” They are your flesh and blood, after all. Plus, it would seem selfish and “un-parentlike” to choose your spouse in this scenario.
However, if you want to show your children you love them, studies suggest you should love your spouse more. Confusing? Let us clear that up.
Research has found that children whose parents frequently fight blame themselves for the conflict at home, which results to poor school performance. Couples’ hostile feelings towards each other also tend to spill over when they talk to their kids.
On the other hand, teenagers said they were happiest when their mothers were happy with their partners and/or romantic relationships, the results of a 2014 survey on 40,000 households in the United Kingdom show, according to TIME.
Thus, if you’re a husband who want to do your children good, the best thing you can do is to love your wife.
However, because a parent’s love for her child is more natural, the child often becomes the center of a couple’s relationship — and eventually the only reason for it. In the last 25 years, therapists have seen a marked increase in the rate of marriages breaking down among couples in their 50s and up. When their grown children leave the house to pursue a degree and get on with their lives, husband and wife realize they have nothing in common anymore.
Gerontologist Karl Pillemer of Cornell University, who has done research on aging, and author of 30 Lessons for Loving, says one of his biggest discoveries while interviewing 700 couples for his book was how detrimental “the middle-aged blur” of work and kids can be to relationships.
“It was amazing how few of them could remember a time they had spent alone with their partner — it was what they’d given up,” he told author Belinda Luscombe of TIME. “Over and over again people come back to consciousness at 50 or 55 and can’t go to a restaurant and have a conversation,” he added.
How did they get there? By allowing parenthood to take over their lives.
That said, Luscombe reminds couples to “remember that the kids are not the reason you got together.” By seeing your partner as that — an individual you chose to be with for the rest of your life, and not only as the father of your children, you are reminded of the reason you got together in the first place. And that will do your children good.