Did anyone else read this article in The Guardian over the weekend? I found it interesting reading and, to be honest, the question posed by the headline isn’t one I’ve ever asked myself until now. To provide a brief premise, journalist and father of two, Sam Leith interviews author and relationship therapist, Andrew G. Marshall, about his forthcoming title, I Love You But You Always Put Me Last. In this book, Marshall proposes a controversial approach to ‘childproofing your marriage’ – putting the kids second.
Now I’m not going to get all indignant and attack this concept – I haven’t read the book and we all know you ought not to judge them by the metaphorical cover of one pre-publication interview. Nor am I going to fly off the handle at the fact that Marshall doesn’t have children himself and, therefore, no first-hand experience to draw on, but I think that my immediate response to the aforementioned question will be the same as a lot of parents. It’s not out of any preordained plan or anything, but the kids come first. Do we have any choice?!
On the face of it, and as Leith points out in his article, some of the advice that Marshall offers makes sense – a good relationship with your spouse can only be a good thing for your children and it’s important to remember that you wouldn’t have even had them without each other, but I can’t see how trying to put Dylan and Xander second or, indeed, Kate first, could work – it wouldn’t exactly be practical.
Kate and I do our best to maintain a decent balance – we try to make time for each other as much as possible – but there are no two ways about it, the boys tend to dominate our thinking. At three and one respectively, they are both still very young so will naturally demand a lot of our time, but I can’t see us intentionally putting them second once they’re a little more self-reliant.
As a couple, we still don’t get much time together and the bulk of that is probably while we’re asleep – not that we get much of that either due to Xander’s natural immunity to rest. We’re consequently permanently tired and have been known to snipe at one another – shock, horror! – but I don’t think we need to change our approach. We will get a bit of quality time again one day and, when that happens, I sincerely doubt we’ll be saying things like “right, let’s plan our week then theirs.”
I suppose what I’m saying is that there isn’t a hierarchy – nobody is intentionally put above anyone else; the person I greet first when I get home from work, for example, is whoever I see first. I don’t see any value in breezing past the boys and ignoring them until I’ve said hello to Kate first or vice versa. Surely that would cause the ‘snubbed’ parties to feel that they had somehow done something to upset me and that can’t be good.
So, for my part at least, everyone matters just as much and the family is a unit. It comes first, then there’s everything else. I’d be interested what others think of this – is there someone you intentionally put first? Do you think that putting the kids second is a good idea? All thoughts are welcome!