It seems obvious to me but sometimes I look around and I wonder whether I’m weird. I’ll be honest, my husband thought I was weird at first too but this is what I believe: my marriage is more important than my kids. I’m not suggesting I love my kids less than I love my husband. I’m not sure any love for a human that you didn’t heave out of your fanny can come even close to that instinctive, overwhelming, unconditional love you feel for your kids but that’s kind of the point. Right?
You love your kids and your kids love you in a way that you couldn’t really love anyone else, including your husband. The love you have for your husband isn’t biological, instinctive, automatic. It’s chosen, nurtured, created. That it will last a lifetime isn’t a given. Get complacent about your love for your husband and it won’t end well and yet, that relationship is the bedrock of your happy family.
So, in a nutshell, that’s why I make my relationship with my husband a priority. That’s why I’m all about a babysitter, date nights, and a weekend at Granny’s house. I’m all for telling my Small I can’t play tea-parties with her right now because I’m having a conversation with my husband while we digest our days, vent our anger, show each other we’re there for each other in a way that only a shared, stolen few minutes amidst the chaos of Project Family can.
After all, this is how this crazy ride began. It started when we went on our very first date ten years ago to a Mexican restaurant in Harrogate. It started when Jimmy was so nervous he ate almost nothing and spent most of the night in the bathroom. It started when we bumped uglies for the first time. It started when we built our relationship despite the distance between Yorkshire and London. It started when I moved back to London to be with him. It started when we moved into our first flat, had our first fight, bought our first car, bought our first house. It started when we went on our first holiday together, went to our first gig together, met each other’s families, discovered each other’s friends. It started when we went to our friends’ weddings, birthdays and parties – when we started getting invites to Cat & Jimmy. It started when we held each others’ hands when shit went really, really wrong. It started when we cried and laughed and danced and got pissed together. It started when he proposed to me on Brooklyn Bridge, when we walked down the aisle in a chateau in France and when we first saw that positive sign on the pregnancy test.
The point is, our relationship is so much more than our kids. It’s our twenties, our thirties, it’s our shared experiences, the things we remember. It’s the old photos and the down-and-dirty mucky cuddles that got us into this fine and beautiful mess in the first place. Forget that at your peril. Ignore that and you’re in trouble.
The most important thing to me is that we maintain our relationship. When I’ve left my kids to spend time with my husband, people have said, “Why would you have kids if you don’t want to be with them?” My response? “Why would you get married if you don’t want to have a relationship with them?”
But you know what else? I’m aware every day that our relationship sets an example for my daughter. I don’t just want her to see two carers co-existing to ensure she lives, breathes, has clean clothes, food on the table and a 24 hours taxi service when required. I want her to see us as a couple that shares something that she isn’t a part of but that she can see is wonderful. I want her to understand that love between two people is a magical, special thing that she was lucky enough to witness every single day. I want her to wander in and find us sneaking in a smooch, holding hands while we watch TV. When we leave her with a grandparent or a babysitter, all dressed up with somewhere fabulous to go, I want her to think how beautiful we look as a couple not because we’re rocking some kick ass threads but because we are in love.
There’s always, always time for kids. When you think about it those date nights, those stolen weekends, those kid-free holidays make up such a small amount of time. Nurturing your relationship doesn’t equal neglecting your children. It won’t end in disaster or doom. It’ll be the best thing you ever do, for you and your kids.