Sunday, August 21, 2011

I Love My Husband More than My Child

So I was pretty apprehensive about becoming a parent. It was commonly agreed by everyone that both you and your life change forever after having children, and that this change was mostly for the worse. You would be fatter, uglier, poorer, less happy, boring (as you couldn't possibly do anything cool), and forced to bid goodbye to most things you valued previously. More frighteningly, your marriage would morph into a childcare cooperative and you would stop having sex, a passionate connection or even conversations that weren't kid-related. However, you would also become much more selfless and mature, and somehow you would be so fond of your child that these things wouldn't bother you that much.

I wrote before that I was surprised by how much easier it was to be a mother than I expected. I certainly don't regret my decision to have a child at all. I still feel this way 6 months in, though I know the hardest parts are yet to come (toddler stage; teenage years), so who knows how I will feel later.

But what about being changed forever, as everyone promised/threatened? Again, I feel out of step with the accepted trope. I honestly don't feel that different. I am a little fatter (about 5 pounds); other physical changes haven't been that extreme (I should do a full assessment later). My personality/life outlook hasn't changed very much either. I still like the same things, think the same way, and have the same values that I did previously. I am a little bit happier, because I now have an unfailing source of joy (little R), and a little bit more consistently busier (since little R work is constant instead of time-based like a regular job). I still have trouble going to bed on time, being self-disciplined and not being grumpy when hungry, tired, overwhelmed or droopy. (So I haven't become a better or more mature person.) I also basically do the same things I did pre-little R, with the exception of going to work (since I'm not working).

It's true now we don't go to coffeehouses at night: instead, we do the same things at home (B works, I help him or read). We also have to take little R to dinner with us (somewhat lame as she has no table manners, conversation or patience), but we still go out the same amount (actually more since our kitchen stuff isn't here yet and the food out is so good), and to the same type of restaurants (since we always liked hole-in-the-wall places). I still entertain myself in the same way (going to museums, for instance), although I can't stay as long now (2 hours is about little R's limit for any activity).

More interestingly, my relationship with B hasn't changed that much. We still spend a lot of time on each other: talking, cuddling, interacting, having sex, arguing (although we've actually argued significantly less since little R was born, with the exception of the first three weeks of her life and our first three weeks in Singapore), debating, doing stuff together. The intensity of our connection hasn't really changed at all, and I would say that our focus is still primarily on each other.

I worry about this, because it's so different from most people's experience. I wonder if I am doing something wrong, if I am a bad mother because so much of my emotional energy is bound up in and focused on my husband. Most mothers seem to be almost exclusively focused on their children, with husbands as a distant second. (My own mother always told me that she loved me and my sister more than my father.)

I am also ashamed to admit this to anyone, in case it does mean there is something wrong with me, so I have only told B about it. (He of course approves highly, especially since he feels the same way.) I am glad that I can write about it on the Internet anonymously, because I know people would judge me if I admitted to such a thing in real life.

Maybe it's a good thing? Hopefully it means we will have a stable marriage (one of the most important things for a child), and maybe it will allow little R more space to be her own person (since my emotional needs are primarily met elsewhere, I don't need her to provide me with anything). I hope so, since there's no easy way to change your feelings.

16 comments:

  1. Grace, I think this is a good thing. I think a strong foundation of love between two parents is the best foundation on which to built a family. I think Little R will benefit greatly from having parents who love each other so much.

    I am also intrigued by your assessment of how you have/haven't changed since becoming a mother. I feel like I got the same message about motherhood ("You will be fatter, uglier, and more boring, but at least you will love your child so much you won't notice"), and it's comforting to hear that you still feel largely the same. I hope to find the same for me.

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  2. Although I think its great you apparently have such a strong relationship with your husband, I cannot and never will, understand how any decent mother with any heart whatsoever (despite your explanations here) would choose death on their child above anyone else. I find this extremely shameful, and very sad. I feel bad for your daughter. Please also realuze that words last forever, and I hope your daughter never has to read this.

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    1. I find your comment asinine.

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    2. Why dont you feel bad for husbands in ec reverse situation? I think it is pathetic when parents exalt their children over their partners.

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  3. Obviously I'm a little late, but I wanted to say that I feel the same way. My husband has been my best friend for the better part of my life - that kind of love really can't be rivaled. When I admitted to my hubby that I loved him more, he said that the love he has for our daughter is so different from his love for me, that it's almost impossible to compare them.

    As for the "who would you save", I think that's a really ridiculous situation to put yourself in, so you really shouldn't worry about that. I won't even consider it, because I wouldn't want to have to choose! The relationship I have with my husband is so much deeper and more developed than my relationship with my husband, and in honesty, I don't think I would want to live with out him. But... I'm not going to ponder it further, because I will never have to choose.

    It took me a solid 2 months to even consider applying the word "love" to my new baby. Bonding has never been a strong suit of mine. Don't bother comparing yourself with other parents over silly hypothetical questions. You will always lose.

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  4. Obviously, I am really late to this post. I found it after perusing your blog from a link on the OMGMom's site, and I wanted to tell you that you shouldn't be ashamed to love your husband more.

    I am a fairly recent married person (2010), and when my husband and I were doing our marriage prep through our church, we attended an enrichment day where many older couples spoke to us about married life. One couple sticks with me still to this day...they've been married over 30 years and have 7 children, and the wife told us that she and her husband always put their marriage--and thus, each other first (ie before their children). I forget exactly how she phrased it, but she told us that while she loves her children, she loves her husband differently. It's a different kind of love and that's totally ok. I think, as a wife, we don't have to love one more or best, just recognize that our love for our child may be different from our love for our husband.

    I have used this thinking ever since that day, and I totally agree with what she and you are saying. A strong marriage can lend itself to every other happiness in life, I think. A strong marriage can help lead to happy, well-adjusted kids. So when we have children, my husband and I have both stated that we will try as best we can to put each other first and remember that the love we have for each other IS different from the love we have for our children, and that is OK.

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    1. Thanks for your comment Amy! I just wrote another post about the negative effects of divorce: the more I learn about it, the more I think that having a strong marriage might be one of a parent's most important gifts to their child.

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  5. You would wish death on your child before your husband? Really? Yes, that does make you a bad mom. I feel bad for your child. Loving your husband more is okay. But to say that about your kid. I hope she gets taken away from you and put in a place where she will truly be loved.

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    1. Truly being loved doesn't mean ignoring your husband. Your kids grow up and leave you to lead their own lives. If you ignore your husband and treat him second best, he will be right out the door after your kids leave.

      American women have the most unhealthy view of marriage and kids. It is not a badge of honor to emotionally abandon your marriage to take your kids to soccer practice. It leads to divorce and coddled children who expect to be the center of everyone world.

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  6. I do believe you should love your spouse more than your kids. In fact you are not alone, there a number of women who do love their husband more than their kids. Though this is not common but its a minority phenomenon.

    It is because of women like you why I can even consider marriage as something I would take as a future option.

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  7. If you love your husband or wife more than your children what fuck you doing with making them? fucking idiots.

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  8. I agree with you. I fell in love with my wife and she wanted children as soon as possible. When the children cam I was so proud of them and they are now my best friends 40 years later. However, my wife lost interest in me after a few years. After 20 years of marriage she tld me it wqas over. She never did love me the way I was in love with her; she just wanted children and someone to provde a home for them. It is now 42 years since we married and 22 years since she called an end to our marriage. She feels no regret but there is a hole in my heart which will never heal.

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  9. old post but i still feel the need to comment.

    some people have kids just because they complete their idea of "how my life should be", some people adore their children. it is not that the one is necessarily better than the other.
    but the former are the people that do not understand that the kind of love you have for a man and for a child is different. even comparing the two makes me feel not that you are a horrible person or mother but that you are not one of these people that should have a large kids-orientated family.
    for your shake i hope your man never leaves you in one way or another, because your child needs you to shape her into the person she will be, to love her and be present.
    she will be raised by a mother who would "sacrifice" her to save a man. even if it is THE MAN. i hope she is always be healthy and happy and that life does not test you in what you say, i think in real life you would understand that losing a child is incomparable.
    i repeat that does not make you a horrible person or a horrible mother.
    the fact that you love your husband more does not mean necessarily that she will have issues from it but i have seen it happen and that person grew up feeling less loved, even if her mother was "technically" a good mother. it hurt her greatly. it affected who she is and her ability to love and connect with others. try to avoid that.
    try your best to give your child enough attention to make her believe that you are not split between them. conceal your preference as best you can. keep your man and wife bond in the background of her life.
    and please think very carefully before having more kids.
    if you believe your kids will always be second best - think hard on whether you have enough love to split between two kids, as they will never be your first priority. and kids know. their whole life will be affected, their future.

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    1. Thanks for your comments. Since I wrote this I have actually changed my opinion (I still love B the same but love R equally, it's just different). I read this post now and kind of cringe because I sound so naive and over-confident that I understand ALL THINGS MOTHERHOOD with like six months' experience.

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  10. i love my family
    i love my husband
    and i love my child
    :-)

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