In the Parenthood

Are you using your kids to escape your marriage?

Posted by Lylah M. Alphonse  June 14, 2010 05:22 AM

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David Code.jpgIt runs counter to our instincts as parents, but a new book suggests that making your kids your top priority may be doing them more harm than good.

An Episcopal minister and family coach, David Code suggests that parents who focus first on maintaining a strong marriage end up having happier, better-adjusted children than those who make their kids their top priority.

"The truth is, we often find it easier to be with our kids than our partners," Code said in an interivew. "This seems child-friendly, but we don't realize we're using our kids as an escape from our spouses."

Code says that his new book, To Raise Happy Kids, Put Your Marriage First, was born out of frustration. "Couples asked me to save their marriage when they already had one foot in the lawyer's office," he remembers. "Parents wanted me to fix their kidís problem when it was obvious to me the child couldnít help acting out because of the highly anxious household she was living in."

"I wrote this book as preventive medicine," he says. "This book is for families who are doing fine, and want to stay that way."

Married for 14 years and the father of a 10-year-old boy and an 8-year-old girl, Code says that the idea of a conflict-free marriage is a myth. "Most couples believe that if they donít fight much, then they donít have relationship problems," he said. But when partners don't address issues directly, they end up avoiding the problems -- and each other. "We turn to our electronic screens, work long hours, shuttle our kids, co-sleep with our kids, or we make up excellent reasons why we never have sex anymore."

The avoidance leads to tension and anxiety, which in turn can cause all sorts of problems for children. "You can't hide the tension in a marriage, because kids pick up on everything." Code said. "Parents don't realize they are off-loading their anxiety onto their kids, and then kids act-out or develop [medical or emotional] symptoms."

The solution seems counterintuitive.

"To raise healthy kids, simply put your marriage first and your children second," Code suggested. (To read my entire interview with Code, including his tips on how to keep a good marriage from going bad, click here.)

"Here's the biggest myth of parenting: The more attention we give our kids, the better they'll turn out," Code said. "Where are the results? Studies show todayís parents spend more time with their kids, and yet today's kids don't seem happier, more independent or successful. They seem more troubled, entitled and needy."

Unlike children and their demands, "Our marriages are important, but not urgent. So we neglect to feed and water our marriages, which die so slowly and quietly that we don't even realize our mistake until it's too late," Code explained. "But not only do we lose our marriages, we set a poor example for our children's future marriages, and we also create highly-anxious households where our kids soak up that anxiety and then act out."

Code is not saying that the needs of the spouse outweigh those of the child. "I don't see it as either/or," he said. "I see it as setting priorities that benefit everyone in the long run, even if they don't recognize it at present."

By focusing on the marriage first and the children second, parents can also avoid another pitfall: overparenting, a.k.a. "helicopter parenting."

"The definition of overparenting is doing for your child what your child can, and should do, for herself," Code says. "We think this is child-friendly, but that couldn't be further from the truth. We over-protect and over-praise our little darlings until they believe they truly are the center of the universe. They learn no skills in teamwork or cooperation, and their future bosses and spouses won't be able to stand them."

Code admits to having done his share of helicopter parenting. "Before [writing the book], I was not even aware of how much helicopter parenting I was doing, or the damage it was doing to my kids," he says. "Today, I am more self-aware. I still do plenty of helicoptering, but I catch myself sooner and do less harm to my kids."

In most families today where the kids are the top priority, maintaining the marriage is low on the list. But even small changes -- talking about both the highlights and the "lowlights" of your day, going for a walk together (baby monitor in hand, if necessary) after the kids are in bed instead of watching TV, and reinforcing your bond with your partner through intimacy -- can make a big difference in the long run.

"It's not about going from chaos to perfection," Code says. "It's about just five percent improvement. Over a lifetime, that five percent improvement could make the difference between your child graduating from college, getting divorced, or raising a child with mental illness."

Lylah M. Alphonse is a Globe staff member and mom and stepmom to five kids. She writes about juggling career and parenthood at The 36-Hour Day and blogs at Write. Edit. Repeat. E-mail her at lalphonse@globe.com and follow her on Twitter @WriteEditRepeat You can read her entire Q&A with David Code here.

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83 comments so far...
  1. We're using our marriage to escape our kids!

    Posted by tone June 14, 10 08:34 AM
  1. This is such needed advice. Great article

    Posted by Sirreadsalot June 14, 10 08:53 AM
  1. JT .. read .. really good article .. i want us to discuss and explore further

    Posted by JT Harris June 14, 10 08:54 AM
  1. My parents put themselves first -- they are about to celebrate their 50th -- they are as happy ever. While it's been nice to have the stability, I will quickly add that we, the children, were not raised well because we were always second class citizens. We were supposed to be quiet at the dinner table while Dad told Mom about his oh so boring day at work. We did get some attention, but it wasn't enough -- we were hungry for more! If we made our mother upset, Dad was all over us, guilty we were -- as charged -- with no chance to defend ourselves. If Dad was working late, Mom would take a nap so she'd be awake for him during a late dinner (so we were ignored all afternoon after school, then ate dinner by ourselves, then Dad came home and .... more being ignored). Dad did give us a nice good night visit and played with us on Sundays, but Mom mostly just took care of us and they both wanted us to behave perfectly when they were home (we tended to act out sometimes to get some attention). They once went on a vacation and left us with a strange woman that was horrible to us. Another time, they had a babysitter cancel, but rather than be inconvenienced and cancel their own evening, they hired a teen boy who molested us while they were out. They still seem to see each other as more important and think all their grandkids want to watch a long slide show of their marriage (grandkids are all boys so they would like to look at one photo and be done with it). Their self-prioritization has done damage to our self-esteem. One child is divorced (twice). I remain married but I have put my children first -- giving them all the attention we did not get. I do not put my spouse first, my childrens' self-esteem and future is at stake. What I do during these impressionable years will shape their lives for decades after both my spouse and I are gone. And, marry the right spouse, you don't have to put them first! They can wait, delay gratification and they, too, put the children first.

    Posted by Mary Kate Winslow June 14, 10 09:50 AM
  1. Most married-with-kids relationships that I am aware of have devolved into sexless semi-hostile roomate situations. When I hear a young co-worker is getting married I just feel bad for him because in five years he will likely be living in this situation as well, stuck in a dead marriage because of guilt over harming the kids and worry over the financial ruin a divorce will cause.

    Posted by cjygudwin June 14, 10 09:57 AM
  1. I think there is a difference between making your child a priority and giving them too much attention. Society it self has played a large role in how people parent. Parents that where raised in the 60s grew up in a time where verbal and physical abuse was accepted.

    Statistics show 50% of marriages do not work. I do not think this has anything to do with giving kids too much attention. If someone wants to 'escape' a marriage they will find something. Kids do need dicipline and chores. I do not see that often enough.

    Posted by rdonov June 14, 10 10:23 AM
  1. YAY!!! Finally an article that support those who chose to put their marriage first for the sake of their family!!

    Posted by StillHis June 14, 10 10:34 AM
  1. I think the key here is "balance".

    Most parents would put their children first... however, it is also necessary to take care of the relationships and have dates with your spouse, so that both adults do not become just care takers and financial resources, but rather keep the loving afloat beyond all the stress of life, including the challenges of raising a family.

    That said, the safety and well-being of your children should always have priority over any date with your spouse. Who would really be able to enjoy an outing knowing that your child is not safe? That would be terrible.

    Though kids want to have their parents all to themselves, they would truly enjoy better happy parents that have had the change to enjoy their relationship as a couple. In the same tolken, children should not always be with their parents only, and should be exposed to the love and care of other adults that provide the appropriate supervision. That's the way to strengthen and expand relationships.

    Posted by rmg June 14, 10 10:36 AM
  1. Great post, until . . .

    "It's not about going from chaos to perfection," Code says. "It's about just five percent improvement. Over a lifetime, that five percent improvement could make the difference between your child graduating from college, getting divorced, or raising a child with mental illness."

    WTF!!! So over-parenting causes mental illness? Would you say that about cancer?

    Posted by Liz June 14, 10 11:01 AM
  1. I don't have kids but I have married for well over 27 years now.

    How do I escape???

    Posted by Macky June 14, 10 11:01 AM
  1. No one said it (being married with children) was easy.

    Posted by Joe June 14, 10 11:02 AM
  1. Definition of irony = posting this article the same day as the one about the parents of a 1-year-old and a 10-year-old from Dedham and Milton that were arraigned today on child-endangerment charges after police say they left the children alone in a car in a Foxwoods Resort Casino parking garage while they were inside gambling.

    Posted by CJ June 14, 10 11:14 AM
  1. Thank you for commenting, Liz. In his book, Code does explain how certain aspects of overparenting can lead to types of mental illness in children. It's worth clicking through to read his entire interview. Here's the link: http://bit.ly/cVuy8e -- LMA

    Posted by Lylah M. Alphonse Author Profile Page June 14, 10 11:15 AM
  1. Mary Kate, I think you may want to re-read the article. Im sorry for your childhood truly. The point of the articlewas about parents who drown themselves in their children to the detrement to themsleves and their marriage. There should be no delaying of gratification, as you put it, if you are unhappy but deluding yourself by insuring your children get all the happiness and attention you didnt get, then you have a problem. I dont think this is the case by what you say. I know of a few couples whose children have so many activities and theparenst are constanly seperated takin this one here and ther while the other does the same with the others, they almost never spend the time together. They get out alone maybe once every few months, if that. You can easily see these types of people have serious problems. Have you ever known of a couple that once the children move out, the marriage disolves fast because the people are forced to interact with one another more than they ever had. Thats what this is about. No where is the author stating you should abandon your children and go have fun. This is all about knowing when you need to be a mom or dad, and when you need to be a wife or husband. Too much of either one can only mean neglecting the other. Too much Mom, winds up in a dead marriage and kids who have a sense of entitlement, and will not do for themselves, because they know mommy will. Too much Wife and the kids will feel, a lot like you described, abandined, alone, helpless, hurt, and defeated.

    Posted by SH June 14, 10 11:20 AM
  1. Thanks for your comment, CJ, but my post and Code's book in no way advocate anything like that. There's a huge difference between endangering your kids through neglect and strengthening your marriage through communication and non-avoidance. -- LMA

    Posted by Lylah M. Alphonse Author Profile Page June 14, 10 11:21 AM
  1. yeah, so old school and I have to agree with the poor gal who stated parents made themselves a priority and did not leave their children in good hands in their absence. I believe in this day and age, if you bring children into this world it's up to you to ensure their safety. It's your job as parents to give them unconditional, love, support, guidance and to educate them. I see problems in the marriage when only one spouse naturally is giving to their children. I think this spending so much time on yourselves is selfish. I get much enjoyment from seeing my children happy and secure. I admire, respect and love my husband more when I see him enjoying our children. He tends to be selfish so I have more angst more of the time which to me is sad. How about we brought the children into the world together... Funny, my husband would've let his mom babysit all the time when he was not working so he could do what he chose and guess what, I figured he could get a g/f if that's what he wanted. I wasn't missing my children's childhood because he was selfish. Not a chance... If he wants to leave so be it. I gave birth not his mom...she had her shot.... and she absolutely doted on him and he is pretty selfish.... he has come far all things considered. Imagine how awful he'd be to live with if I also spoiled him and allowed him to never take anyone else into consderation...Honestly... people need to grow up and realize parenting is difficult, you're going to work, now enjoy your role together. I don't know that many who have money to go do tons of things and hire a sitter, etc... if people lived within their means; they'd happily spend time with their children... I wouldn't read this book, it's like the catholic church... do it this way... I know from my own experinece kids need both parents doing their job for them to have good healthy self esteem, not just mommy... if daddy gave instructions and taught the children the importance of chores or creating and finishing a project; let them know they are critical components of the family. children grow... daddy can't just be physically there watching tv. duh..

    Posted by bea June 14, 10 11:21 AM
  1. Great article... I agree completely. Thanks also to MaryKate for such a heart-felt response.

    Posted by Clare June 14, 10 11:29 AM
  1. I am unimpressed with this article. I think it is an example of muddy thinking. Parents are adults with a commitment to raising children so that their children reach adulthood with the tools they need to prosper and with all their choices intact, not precluded by lack of education or lack of experience and discipline.

    A stable marriage is one of the best gifts children can have but a stable marriage does not necessitate putting the spouse first. Many marriages already suffer from selfishness and selfcenteredness on the part of the adults, they do not need more justifications to put themselves first.

    One of the points ignored by the author is that in a family every member is important and equal although members have different responsibilities and freedoms depending on age. There are not two groups the adults and the children. Everyone's needs and desires need to be balanced and the welfare of the family as a whole promoted by strengthening and encouraging individual freedoms and responsibilities.

    The example of sacrificing selfish impulses, of putting others before yourself and of honoring commitments is the job of parents. We have been married 35 years and raised 4 children, we didn't get here by putting ourselves first. Helicopter parenting is not the result of caring too much or spending too much time with your kids. It comes from insecurity and from a need to control. Children should be put first but if you truly love them you will allow them frequent opportunities to spread their wings and to fail or soar having faith that the spirit within them will learn from mistakes and grow from trying.

    Posted by JGalt June 14, 10 11:32 AM
  1. There is no need to think the extreme... that in any way this article is suggesting that parent neglect their children.
    In addition, what makes it so much better to neglect your spouse? Didn't vow through sickness and health? This seems to be more applicable to women, who so often find it easy to dismiss or ignore their spouse or marriage to play soccer mom to the kids or claim divorce is better for the kids than putting the effort into the marriage.
    As far as I see it, my children are products of my marriage and in our family we all make sacrifices so everyone can maintain their sanity. My children are more independent and are able to give to themselves, because my husband and I are able to give to ourselves.

    Posted by StrongerKids June 14, 10 11:38 AM
  1. Balance Danielson. Putting the spouse first causes problems for the children. Putting the children first causes problems for the spouse. Nobody, I mean nobody, likes being second fiddle. Code's mistake is in using the word FIRST when he should be using the word BALANCE.

    Think about it. There is no difference between a baby born in the Stone Age and a baby born today. They need lots of help, lots of attention, and lots of education for years. Meanwhile, the spouse is already two or three decades old with plenty of education. When couples pay attention to themselves FIRST, it's like the rich getting richer while the children fall behind.

    I'm sorry, but each child has 1/2 of the blood of each parent. The parents don't share the same blood. So technically and factually, the parent and child have more in common than the spouses do.

    Let me lay it out more clearly:

    Marriage: Two people together by CHOICE only.

    Children: Two (or more) people together by physical GENEALOGY

    The physical genealogy connection is more powerful. What's the difference between two adults having a one night stand versus two adults being married for 50 years? I can't explain that. But I can explain a child having 1/2 of his or her blood from you. That's real.

    In the movie Talladega Nights, Ricky Bobby's father said, "If you're not first, you're last." Later in the movie, the father admitted that he was only kidding. However, his son took it literally, for good reason. I would say that whoever is first on the attention list is the winner and whoever is 2nd, 3rd, 4th, nth are last. It's that simple and everybody knows it. Look at sports players. If the ball is not coming their way... they stop trying.

    I don't know how else to say it. First is best. Second is not as good. The kids need the help more than the spouse. It's easy for Code to say first, because HE gets to be first. He's not a kid anymore.

    Posted by Matt June 14, 10 11:49 AM
  1. I think it boils down to plain old common sense. Don't OVER-parent, but don't UNDER-parent either. Empower your children, while making sure that you don't give them too much rope to choke themselves. Seems simple...but it is not. It's a constant balance. You don't need some guy who writes a book to be your guide. Use common sense. For those who lack common sense...well...you'll have problems.

    As for finding the balance of "me time" vs "kids time," I know lots of parents who are in great relationships yet take off and leave their kids with others. That's fine for them. But each situation is different. My wife and I do not have a local support system, so we cannot go out of town for a couple nights without the kids. Is that a bad thing? Not in my eyes. We just have to find time for ourselves. It's not easy when your kids are young.

    Once again...it's all about balance and common sense.

    Posted by BigDuke June 14, 10 11:56 AM
  1. I don't think the point is about putting one ahead of the other, but about making sure the family as a whole is happy. Thats the most important thing.

    Posted by chris June 14, 10 11:59 AM
  1. A husband/father wrote this, right?

    Posted by eastiegirl June 14, 10 12:01 PM
  1. Wow, what a terrible concept. Seriously this guy has no clue of which he speaks. Kids today are smarter, more social, and more emotionally secure than ever. They maybe different than when we were kids but it does not mean they are worse because of how there parents put them first. Seriously the author of the book has a flawed look at parenting because he only see people who are already in trouble. He does not see anyone who is doing just fine.
    Here is the secret to raising a good family and having a long, sexy marriage. Communication and Observation. Talk to your kids, your spouce, talk and listen to what they say. Be aware of the what they do, how they says things, and how they behave. Don't ignore your own feeling either and teach them to communicate and observe. Seriously you vanilia people always have such problems because you never talk

    Posted by Thanos73 June 14, 10 12:03 PM
  1. Hi, eastiegirl. To answer your question: A husband/father wrote the book, a wife/mother wrote this article. -- LMA

    Posted by Lylah M. Alphonse Author Profile Page June 14, 10 12:06 PM
  1. Sorry, but anyone who puts themselves first or expects their spouse to prioritize them over the children needs to do some re-evaluating. As another commentor pointed out, it's all about balance.

    From my perspective, I had 30 years of my life with no one depending on me. I'll have another 25+ (hopefully) after my kids have gone off to college. I was fine with prioritizing them during the years in the middle. Doesn't mean I ignored my spouse or neglected my marriage, it just means that expectations needed to be toned down and made more realistic. Sorry, but I'm tired of people whining about how their spouse is not the same as he / she was before kids or before marriage. It CANNOT be the same as it was. Not enough hours in the day.

    As with everything in life: "Know your role"

    Posted by Hoss June 14, 10 12:15 PM
  1. I don't agree with the author. Putting your kids first is not escaping your marriage. I am a baby boomer and many of us grew up on our own and have issues as a result of it. My parents were barely there for me and wouldn't help me out even if I asked. They put themselves first. I am different as a parent and as a result closer to my kids than my parents were to my siblings or now as grandparents. Children have more confidence if you are there for them. No one should have children if you don't expect to put yourself second.

    Posted by ccmom June 14, 10 12:16 PM
  1. thanos73- vanilia people?

    Posted by what?! June 14, 10 12:21 PM
  1. I went to the other site linked in the article and read the whole Q&A, and this line really stands out (it's not in this article, but it is in the Q&A): "For many of todayís couples, the children are priority No. 1 one and marriage is priority No. 10 -- and few of us make it past the top three priorities on our daily to-do list."

    I don't think it's a matter of putting your kids first and your wife/husband second. It's more a warning not to put your kids first, everything else in your life next, and your marriage way down at the bottom of the list. If you can't/don't want to put your marriage at the very top, at least make sure it's not at the very bottom.

    Posted by Maya June 14, 10 12:32 PM
  1. Hooray! More fodder for the busy folks who need official sanction to keep neglecting their children. If you believe this article I have a book that explains how you can lose those forty pounds easily without diet or exercise too.

    Posted by For "Cry It Out" Crowd June 14, 10 12:33 PM
  1. How true.

    Posted by russ June 14, 10 12:35 PM
  1. This article states very concisely what I've felt for a long time. My husband and I have already pledged to each other that our relationship will continue to hold a place of honor in the household. There does not need to be a difference between being a good parent and treating your primary relationship with the respect it deserves. It's always seemed to me that the child worship cult is a lose-lose for everyone - kids wind up entitled and helpless, parents wind up miserable and lonely.
    Be true to yourself and set a good example. It can be hard when your child says they need you, but the longer term damage may not be seen for years after you left your spouse alone at the dinner table for the umpteenth time to attend to the kids every need.
    I always thought that this was common sense, but I'm glad it was written nonetheless!

    Posted by Inmanette June 14, 10 12:43 PM
  1. Stop being needy babies to your spouse. If you can't handle your kids stealing the spotlight from you, get a half dozen cats instead.

    I'm not here to take care of the kids and then be used as a toy by you after a playoff game, book club, poker night, Sex in the City 2 screening, cigar party, or any other time you got primed up and came home to try to "make some magic happen".

    You wanna make something happen and win me over? Clean up and sort the kids' toys. Throw out your useless home and beauty magazines. Clean out the garage. Then sit down and talk with me for 30 minutes without mention of Suzie's trip, Brent's new flatscreen, Nicole's fabulous gift she got for Mom's Day, ANY Facebook foolishness, gossip, reality TV characters that you refer to by first name only, or to nitpick my parenting skills.

    Posted by Hadie Nuff June 14, 10 12:46 PM
  1. JGalt wrote : "The example of sacrificing selfish impulses, of putting others before yourself and of honoring commitments is the job of parents. We have been married 35 years and raised 4 children, we didn't get here by putting ourselves first. .....Children should be put first but if you truly love them you will allow them frequent opportunities to spread their wings and to fail or soar having faith that the spirit within them will learn from mistakes and grow from trying."

    Amen. Anyone can write a book. The best advice i ever got about marriage/parenting was Lots of people will offer advice, telling you how your life should be lived, because of what they experienced. It likely has zero correlation to what you will experience, or the decisions, timing or context. Do not be scammed by one article or book. Widen your net. How does one measure 5% improvment? ""Before [writing the book], I was not even aware of how much helicopter parenting I was doing, or the damage it was doing to my kids,"

    So, a well-intentioned father of two, the eldest being 10 years old writes a book suddenly is not an expert on parenting or marriage. Every family constellation is different, evolves, adapts and grows - watered or not. Many families cope and react to life as it happens, the stress, finances, bullies, health, fashion, media, school, etc and are parenting for the first time. It is team work (parents and Parents/kids) from day one, and while the captains of the team is and ideal goal, individuals need attention over the long haul. A baby monitor is not the answer. I appreciate Thanos73's "Communication and Observation" advice. I got dizzy with the helicopter metaphor, it's just well intentioned happy talk, but I'm not buying.

    Posted by stta June 14, 10 12:49 PM
  1. Did Father Code advocate taking a walk with baby monitor in hand after kids fall asleep? Is his book only for those in pastoral settings? Or can anyone join? As the leader of a Helicopter Ministry, why doesn't Code allow his congregants to find their own way?

    Posted by jkstraw June 14, 10 01:03 PM
  1. Wow its amazing how many, and it does appear to be women, misread this article.
    For all of you moms who say children come first, you need to re-read the article. Nowhere does the author state you must neglect your kids in favor of your spouse. Also the comments from all the unhappy women here about their lazy, inept husbands, are pathetic. If you want to rant about how badly youve been treated, i suggest oprahs website perhaps. This article is about SUCCESSFUL marriages. Something you really can't speak to. The author is talking about the fact that many couples drownthemselves in the day to day activities of their children rather than faciong each other as adults , as husband and wife, and by doing so keeping a strong marriage, which along with strong parenting is benficial to your children. It seems like too many of you are stuck in the "i must be better than my parents" " i must be my childrens best friend" and " I must sacrifice all, for my kids" theres too much talk of the I can do it all alone parenting that lets women shut out their spouses and rationalize doing it.
    Like i said the whole point of this is simple, You must know when its time to be mommy and when its time to be a wife. Putting one before the other always, will wind up in the failure of one, which always hurts the other.
    So be too much mommy, and you risk your marriage, and dont think divorce doesnt affect your childrens growth and future relationships.
    If you do toomuch wife, then you neglect your children and we wont even get into those horrors.
    The point is, you have to know when to put one before the other, it cannot always be the kids soccer game comes before the need to remember and strengthen the bonds of love you had when you made that child. For some reason too many women on here see t care more about thier children than their spouses. Then again maybe you have never been in love in the first place.
    Id like to see a couple thousand married moms answer this question,
    1. if you your husband and your child were held hostage at gun point and you had to choose one of you to die so that the others might live, who would you choose. I have a feeling many of you would choose your spouse as the target. Men, i would bet would , like me, say themselves. I think there a big difference in the makeup of what men and women call marriage and love.

    Oh and to Matt who equates blood and genetics with love and the need for attention? So can a step child ever be loved like a blood relative? Or step parent? How about adoptive parents do they abandon the adopted baby in favor of a non adopted one? Then again since marriage and companionship is just a choice, not genetic, it must be useless anyway.

    Posted by sh June 14, 10 01:13 PM
  1. I am married with 2 young children and there have been times that our children came first and we both completely put our marriage on the back burner. I find as my children get older we set time aside for each other usually after the kids are asleep. I agree with previous posts that it is all about balance. Sometimes we get off track but we are committed to always finding our way back to each other. Isn't that what marriage is about?

    Posted by ccmom2 June 14, 10 01:26 PM
  1. Thanks for taking the time to comment, jkstraw. One doesn't have to take his advice quite so literally (or at all, for that matter), but the point is that you can spend time with your spouse without being neglectful of your sleeping kids. If you click through to the Q&A (which is here: http://bit.ly/cVuy8e) you'll see that Code points out that "Some people may be afraid to leave the kids sleeping, but you can probably hear more through this walkie-talkie [baby monitor] than a parent who's watching TV downstairs [without one]." -- LMA

    Posted by Lylah M. Alphonse Author Profile Page June 14, 10 01:28 PM
  1. Over-sensationalized article just to sell his book. Selfish grownups should never have become parents in the first place.

    Posted by KAL June 14, 10 01:29 PM
  1. Its scary how many of you equate parents with acting like a husband and wife, once in awhile , is somehow selfish. I guess taking your child to practice, thengames, the mall, friends houses, dance lessons, movies, picking up their friends etc. all SPECIFICALLY to avoid your spouse makes you a wonderful parent. I guess the child has no selflessness in him/her.
    So when your 14 year who youve carried and catered to every whim, asks why your getting divorced. Please be sure to tell them" Daddy wanted to have a family with a husband and wife and children, but Mommy decided she doesnt have time for anything but you.
    Oh and once you do. please find a good shrink for the child. They will surely need it.
    Thinking about it maybe you are all correct, and you are just incapable of balancing a strong marriage and being a good parent.

    Posted by sh June 14, 10 01:49 PM
  1. Further evidence that people only read half a paragraph before going off of the deep end? More than half the comments in this post.

    No where does it say that you need to make your marriage the priority at the expense of your children. Nor does it (or the linked interview which apparently only 3 people actually comprehensively read) state that prioritizing your marriage means dumping the kids off so you can get a his/hers mani-pedi done.

    It's rare that I agree with folks like the good doctor here, especially if I feel as though they're coming from a faith-based angle, but this guy is spot on. We're watching a great couple we're close to start self-destructing as a couple because their only focus is their son and they take no time for one another.

    I'm happy to note that our daughter is being raised by a couple who make it a point to spend time together each night, after she's in bed. We don't go for a walk, but we'll sit out back or out front and talk. We also have one night a month that's our own. She'll go to her Godparents for an overnight and spend the time there playing with their grandsons who are her own age (and her best friends that she asks about constantly until the next play date comes) - and we'll have a night where we go out, just for us.

    It's not about shoving your kid to the side and saying, "Blow this for a game of soldiers. Let's sod the kid and get out every night together!"

    It's about not using each other as furniture and bank accounts like so many parents do.

    Posted by Phe June 14, 10 01:57 PM
  1. WOW!! I am somewhat surprized so many people want to talk about how putting your marriage first is neglectful to your children. It seems to me that this whole country is in denial of what damage divorce does to children. It's ok to raise children outside of marriage or put them through divorce because you don't want to commit or deal with your own relationship, but it's neglectful to put your needs and the needs of your marriage on the top of your priority list.
    If you REALLY want to put your kids first, DON'T put them through a divorce because YOU don't feel your marriage is a priority.

    Posted by StrongerKids June 14, 10 01:57 PM
  1. I'm a young married woman, without any children yet, who is trying to buy a house. The big decision is where to move: somewhere with a really good school system that I find boring and where driving (which I hate) is more necessary, or somewhere with a fine school system that's more urban where my partner and I will enjoy our lives a lot more. We're leaning towards a more urban location and I feel somewhat judged by others for that, but I don't want to sacrifice my happiness for kids I don't have even have yet. I wonder what I'll think of this decision years from now, but it feels very right right now.

    Posted by gansall June 14, 10 02:07 PM
  1. Right - everything will be OK if he just gets all the sex he wants - when he wants. Note he didn't say that the marriage and kids would be happier and healthier if the husband did his fair share of the housework and child care. This is just the same-old let's go back to when men ruled the world and the little woman did as she was told.

    Posted by Jo-Ann June 14, 10 02:13 PM
  1. Jo-ann, let me guess.. divorced?
    With that attitude and reading sex into it when no one even mentioned it, shows how deeply you are projecting your own experiences on to an article about a strong marriage. I think you may want to see someone to work out all that anger. This article is about BOTH parents men and women who bury themselves in their children in order to avoid each other. Did you even read the article? Or is yours just another men are bad, men are lazy, we dont need em, post.
    See how silly it sounds to generalize about something that has nothing to do with the topic at hand.

    Posted by sh June 14, 10 02:28 PM
  1. I find it fascinating that people are so threatened by the idea of making time for their partner.

    This is not about neglecting your kids so you can make nonstop nookie with your hubby. It's about not forgetting to nourish the partnership upon which your family is founded, in addition to taking care of the family which was created out of your love. Your spouse is as much a part of your family as your children are, not just a baby-making partner.

    Posted by ej June 14, 10 02:33 PM
  1. Sorry "sh" - I have been married for over 40 years to the same man and we have stuck it out through thick and thin. We have a successful marriage and a successful life. The only thing that this author mentions specifically is SEX - here is a quote from the article - "We turn to our electronic screens, work long hours, shuttle our kids, co-sleep with our kids, or we make up excellent reasons why we never have sex anymore." Give up the amateur pschology and read the article (BTW, Phyllis Schafly already wrote this book)

    Posted by Jo-Ann June 14, 10 02:43 PM
  1. This country is about as anti-marriage as it gets. I have never run into so much hate as when I represent a happy marriage.

    IT'S ALL THE MAN'S FAULT!!!! didn't you know? All these women who want to cry about what the man doesn't do... when are we all going to be responsible for our own lives?

    Posted by StrongerKids June 14, 10 02:47 PM
  1. @bea

    I find it exceedingly ironic that your chief complaint of your husband is that his mother parented him so extensively that he is now too selfish and self absorbed to assist you in over parenting your own children.

    Posted by killertomato June 14, 10 02:50 PM
  1. >> about both the highlights and the "lowlights" of your day, going for >> a walk together (baby monitor in hand, if necessary) after the kids >> are in bed instead of watching TV, and reinforcing your bond with

    Seriously
    leave the kids at home and go for a walk? Great advice. Nothing bad ever happens when kids are left home alone.

    Posted by dontLEAVEkidsHome June 14, 10 02:56 PM
  1. StrongerKids, sh, etc. You accuse me and other commentors of being anti-marriage, etc, but you are buying this author's version of marriage as the right one. I just don't. As I said I have been married for more than 40 years, my kids are married and have children - no divorces and are very financially successful and mentally stable. Life is not always a bed of roses and marriages and children aren't happy just because the wife puts her husband first (and make no mistake that is what this article - and the book - is about.

    Posted by Jo-Ann June 14, 10 03:00 PM
  1. jo-ann,
    So you took this article where the author states about him realizing about how HE was causing problems in HIS own marriage by being a helicoptering parent, but you somehow took his staement about couples who sought him out for advice were showing evidence of that one thing, and you took that too mean te author was somehow advocating subservient, stay at home pregnant and barefoot moms, putting out whenever their neanderthal husbands want would solve all these problems, even those the whole of the article is about balancing being adults ( hey sex is part of being married, for most of us maybe with you it isnt, I think my wife of going 13 years is the sexiest hottest woman in existence, and i also think she is the most intelligent hardworking funny person ive ever known) ( not trying to insult anyone else) and yes i have the hots for her. Doesnt mean i tie her down and make her succumb to my every sexual whim while takign away her car keys and books so she will quit all that "larnin".
    Tell you what ill quit the amateur psychology when you quitthe amateur sociology, deal?

    Posted by sh June 14, 10 03:11 PM
  1. I'm really suprised to see so many people opposed to prioritizing their relationship with their spouse. You did choose to spend the rest of your life with this person, correct? I love my daughter- love her to pieces- but I didn't choose my daughter. I did choose my husband. Our marriage is a priority in our home.

    As many others have mentioned, balance is the key to a successful family, but too often I see families where the kids are the center of the universe. I had a pretty normal childhood, participated in sports, art classes, etc. My parents did their fare share of taxi-ing us kids from activity to activity. But when my dad got home from work, he would sit in the kitchen and talk to my mom about her day and his day. It wasn't that we kids were ignored, but it was kind of understood that this was a mom and dad thing. Many evenings I would wander in to the kitchen to check on supper and find my mom sitting in my dad's lap. I still remember the feeling of happiness and security that came from that (especially once all my friends' parents started getting divorced).

    My parents always went out to dinner at least once a month, usually leaving us with a babysitter. It wasn't a big deal at all- and I loved being around my mom as she got ready to go out- transforming from "mom" into a very pretty lady in a red dress and lipstick. I have friends now who would rather die than leave their children with a babysitter- so "date nights" are usually at TGI Friday's with the kids.

    Obviously, you choose what works for you. But I couldn't imagine not prioritizing my marriage. And I want my daughter to grow up to marry someone she feels the same way about.

    And since when is prioritizing your marriage anti-woman?

    Posted by MarriedMom June 14, 10 03:16 PM
  1. Yep, the author has a point. I've actually heard employers say that they prefer not to hire anyone under 30 because they can't take criticism and need to be praised at every step. They are used to getting their way and don't respect other people's experiences or opinions. I believe this is due to over-parenting and parents creating child-centric households. Children have to learn that they are one of many and don't always come first. Having said that, I think several generations have seen a lack of priority placed on the marital relationship for different reasons and with different consequences.

    Posted by rareblue18 June 14, 10 03:20 PM
  1. jo-ann- this article says nothing about the wife neglecting her children to be slave to husband.

    I as the WIFE and MOTHER of 3. I NEED time to be a WIFE, just like I need time to be myself (outside of wife and mother). I have learned that self-sacrifice on my part is not beneficial to anyone.
    I have no desire to be a slave to my husband and the fact that you twist it that way shows the lack of balance in your idea of marriage. My HUSBAND is not going to wither without my support but I as a WIFE will if I give everything I've got to my kids leaving nothing left for myself and the things that are important to me, such as my relationship with the man I consider to be my soul-mate.
    My children are in no way neglected and in fact have more security knowing MOM and DAD are in this together.

    Posted by StrongerKids June 14, 10 03:26 PM
  1. @dontLEAVEkidsHome
    "Seriously
    leave the kids at home and go for a walk? Great advice. Nothing bad ever happens when kids are left home alone."

    What he actually said (from the interview) was "...take a stroll around your yard with your spouse..." Unless you have a multi-acre yard, I doubt that counts as leaving your child home alone.

    Posted by DanW June 14, 10 03:27 PM
  1. Last post here folks i promise.

    Jo-ann,
    Thank you for not only reading the article , but interpreting its meaning for me. I am truly not educated enough to read the ACTUAL words in the article, and not assign my own opinion into them rather than using things like, what the words actually mean. Or what the author actually wrote. I am so embarassed that i could not find the hidden male domination/ return to male power, meaning in an article about sharing a balance in your marriage. Of course the article's writer being a highly educated and respected woman, well im sure she is bowing humbly at your incredible powers of perception that allowed you to see beyond mere facts, when us mere mortals cannot. Yes I am being sarcastic and yes i think you have serious issues to see conspiracy where none obviously exists.
    One last thought for you, I noticed you wrote that you and your children had no divorces, and were financially and mentally stable.
    Yet there was no mention of love.
    Seems theres a large number of people here who are missing that as well.
    They say the love of a child is unconditional, which makes sense as to why so many women on here love their kids more than their spouses, the love in a marriage isnt unconditional, so if it takes a little effort, i guess its easier to run away. Or at least run away from love.
    I wish you well, Even if I think you see lions where there be none.

    Posted by sh June 14, 10 03:36 PM
  1. Great article, and on point. As for the naysayers, "The lady (or gentleman) doth protest too much, methinks." LOL! Perhaps you're really missing the whole point of the article and the book... paying attention to your spouse in order to maintain a healthy relationship does NOT equate to being a neglectful parent. Being a parent does not, and should not mean that your life has to end until the kids have grown up and moved out, and to think otherwise is ludicrous... and that's all I have to say about that!!

    Posted by ggrivera June 14, 10 03:41 PM
  1. Interesting article. My husband and do exactly this, but it's conscious and deliberate because we are a poor match, we know it, and we're just biding our time hoping to hold together a reasonably functional marriage until the kids are grown. For those who are really married until death do us part, of course you have to stay connected and nurture your marriage as well as care for your relationship because when the kids are grown, you don't want to look at each other and have no idea who you have grown into over 20+ years of childrearing. For me, my kids will always be my kids but my husband will likely not always be my husband, so we invest first in them and then somewhat in ourselves because we know that we will reach retirement age solo so we are extra careful about our careers, long-term finances, health and fitness, and nurturing community connections and friendships. Clearly my situation isn't optimal, but I figured I'd offer a different perspective - some of us do this by design.

    Posted by JW June 14, 10 03:48 PM
  1. MarriedMom, sh, etc. I haven't read every comment but I haven't seen anyone say that they are opposed to prioritizing their marriage - I oppose the 'religious' right-wing agenda about how to have a happy marriage. My husband adores me - I know because he tells me every day - and I certainly wasn't a helicopter parent - (and neither was he). Helicopter parents are ruining their children for life. I have wonderful happy, succssful children and grandchildren. My husband and I have a happy, busy and involved life. Peace.

    Posted by Jo-Ann June 14, 10 03:48 PM
  1. temper, temper 'sh'

    Posted by Jo-Ann June 14, 10 04:04 PM
  1. JW... do you not think your kids are going to be aware that you and your husband don't love each other? Kids are very in tune to those things. Or have you already told them your plans to divorce when the timing is more convenient?

    I don't mean to prod into your personal life, but I found your post very troubling. The life you are choosing is not what this author is suggesting. Yes, divorce is hard on kids, but they can handle it. I think it's better to do it now then have your children growing up in a house where they know mom and dad don't love each other. And they will know, if they don't already.

    Posted by chris June 14, 10 04:12 PM
  1. I get the message this author is sending--to pay attention to your marriage, and perhaps this is semantics, but I kind of don't like the imagery of putting your marriage first and your children second. That's not really how it works. No one goes "first"--everyone gets priority.

    And I have to wonder, perhaps putting your children first is not what causes problems in your marriage. Perhaps the problems in your marriage are causing you to put your children first.

    Posted by ash June 14, 10 04:13 PM
  1. JW, sorry but you are not doing your kids any favors to "pretend" you have a good marriage only to drop a bomb on them when they are grown.

    Posted by zee June 14, 10 04:15 PM
  1. Thank you MarriedMom!!! You hit it right on the head. I have been with my husband of 12 years and we are still crazy about each other. Our children being 5 and 8 years old have an image of not only what REAL UNCONDITIONAL LOVE is but how to give and recieve it, not just because mommy and daddy love them unconditionally but because they see mommy and daddy love EACH OTHER unconditionally. How do we except our children to be successful in relationships if they don't see our sucesses in love and marriage?
    I want my kids to know how to really love their spouse unconditionally and to know how to recieve that kind of love in return, and so they can have the same kind of amazing connection both my husband and I have shared over the years.

    Posted by StillHis June 14, 10 04:17 PM
  1. Wow, there are some seriously angry people here.

    Listen folks, this book and article are very simple. They are simply pointing out that a lot of parents out there use their children as barriers between them and their spouse to deflect unhappiness in the relationship, and the children recognize and absorb that whether they know it or not.

    The way I take it - the spirit of it is that spouses should dote on each other AS WELL as the kids. Kids that see a healthy, relatively happy marriage are more likely to have one themselves, pure and simple. Lead the kids by example. A child learns more healthy behavior watching their parents have a problem, then *resolve* that problem.. than by pretending a problem doesn't exist by lavishing even more attention on the kids.

    Bottom line, kids know a b******t story when they see one, and the parent who ignores their spouse because the marriage is on the rocks isn't fooling anyone, least of all the kids. People have to stop looking at their familes happiness with an either/or philosophy (ie: take care of the kids OR the marriage) and start realizing that kids - emotionally - can often take care of themselves when left alone to observe what a strong and happy marriage is.

    Of course the author is not talking about ignoring your children. We're not talking about those self-indulgent parents who dump the kids off at the grandparents house four nights a week so they can go out and re-live their glory days. All it's saying is don't force that extra hour of attention on your kids when they already have plenty in order to emotionally neglect/ditch your spouse who needs your attention and support as much as they do. (This goes for men AND women, mind you. *Everyone* needs some support and attention, everyone.)

    -Ceej

    Posted by Ceej June 14, 10 04:25 PM
  1. Wow JW - what a gut wrenching honest post. Kudos to you for being so honest with yourself and for sharing that. I think if more people were honest with themselves they would be saying the same thing.

    RE: when to divorce... my roommate in college parent's divorced after 25 years... and it was still devastating for her... so while you're working thru this make sure you're talking with someone to learn how to prep the kids, etc. It will really pay off for your family if you do.

    Posted by Susan June 14, 10 04:36 PM
  1. What a great article...thanks! Sounds like a much-needed book for all of us. Parenting is hard work and it's very easy to neglect your spouse in the name of "taking care of the kids". It definitely hurts the relationship as well as the kids. My husband and I have really been trying hard to put each other first. Renee Trudeau, one of my favorite self-care authors, is leading a free teleclass on this very topic this Thursday night. More info at http://www.reneetrudeau.com/contact/liveinsideout.html

    Posted by Sara June 14, 10 05:21 PM
  1. You can't say it any better than this..
    "I'm really suprised to see so many people opposed to prioritizing their relationship with their spouse. You did choose to spend the rest of your life with this person, correct? I love my daughter- love her to pieces- but I didn't choose my daughter. I did choose my husband. Our marriage is a priority in our home.

    As many others have mentioned, balance is the key to a successful family, but too often I see families where the kids are the center of the universe. I had a pretty normal childhood, participated in sports, art classes, etc. My parents did their fare share of taxi-ing us kids from activity to activity. But when my dad got home from work, he would sit in the kitchen and talk to my mom about her day and his day. It wasn't that we kids were ignored, but it was kind of understood that this was a mom and dad thing. Many evenings I would wander in to the kitchen to check on supper and find my mom sitting in my dad's lap. I still remember the feeling of happiness and security that came from that (especially once all my friends' parents started getting divorced).

    My parents always went out to dinner at least once a month, usually leaving us with a babysitter. It wasn't a big deal at all- and I loved being around my mom as she got ready to go out- transforming from "mom" into a very pretty lady in a red dress and lipstick. I have friends now who would rather die than leave their children with a babysitter- so "date nights" are usually at TGI Friday's with the kids.

    Obviously, you choose what works for you. But I couldn't imagine not prioritizing my marriage. And I want my daughter to grow up to marry someone she feels the same way about.

    And since when is prioritizing your marriage anti-woman?"

    You're teaching your kids everyday what true love is all about...congratulations!


    Posted by MarriedMom June 14, 10 03:16 PM

    Posted by Mark June 14, 10 05:38 PM
  1. I am a 37 yr old women who remebers fondly my parents going out every saturday for "date night" and leaving us home with a baby sitter. My Mom and Dad were always kissing and holding hands, telling each other they loved one another and yes occasionally shooing us out of the living room so they could cuddle alone and watch tv.
    How do couples today expect to stay married for the next 30-50 years if they don't keep the spark alive and remind there partners why they married them in the first place? My Dad died three years ago and one of the last things he told me was to never end a day without telling my husband I love him. I have not missed a day since.
    I love my children dearly and they are happy, outgoing children who also see there parents hugging and kissing when the mood strikes. I'm not saying I don't have days when I want to tear my husbands head off but I take a deep breath and remind myself that this is the man who will be with me when my kids are grown and gone.

    Posted by Sherry June 14, 10 05:47 PM
  1. Great article! Here's our perspective at The Power of Two (www.PowerofTwoMarriage.com). If you want to give your children the biggest gift, best training to be happy and successful, and upbringing they will always thank you for, make sure that your marriage comes first, so that their marriage will come first.

    The kids will do just fine with one less ballet lesson or soccer game, but if Mom and Dad "fall out of love" because they aren't making time for each other, the kids are the one's who really suffer!

    Posted by Abigail Hirsch June 14, 10 06:18 PM
  1. I really do agree with many points in this article! I have two young children as well and did put my marriage on the back burner during the first few years, it did none of us any good. Now it is a priority to have date night and take a few day vacation with my spouse every year which I can say is one of the most healthy things people can do for a marriage. I do see others who have for years just made their children there only priority and I can tell you they don't even know who their spouse is anymore. There isn't anything selfish about taking time for yourself and that kind of guilt makes me feel like those people are really the ones that have the worst marriages and don't even know it!

    Posted by sophia June 14, 10 06:26 PM
  1. I always think about what they tell you on an airplane when discussing safety instructions. "Put your airmask on first before helping your children" What does that mean? It means YOU have to be emotionally/physically healthy to be best equipped to help your children have the same. I think the same goes for marriages. Your children will be best taken care of when the marriage has been taken care of first. Our kids see EVERYTHING we do. You can model a caring, respectful, loving relationship Or not. It takes work but it is worth it.

    Posted by Jean June 14, 10 07:21 PM
  1. To the commenter who mentioned watching her mum get ready for date night, I remember that too. It was so special! Now, my own daughter "helps" me put my makeup on for those nights too. : )

    Posted by Phe June 14, 10 07:29 PM
  1. A real woman, wife, mother would never use her children for any reason....if they wanted to escape a marriage, it must be an abusive relationship, mentally and physically and they would not put the children in the middle of anything that may affect their psychological stablility and their safety....

    Posted by Mother Theresa June 14, 10 08:25 PM
  1. There are some elements of truth in the article but having been married for 26 years with four children let me tell you to look at all advice out there and apply it to your situation. Parents really want the best for their kids and it is definitely harder to do than 20 years ago. All four of my kids are going or went to college... half of my siblings did. This type of commitment takes a toll on any marriage. So the key is trust. If you do not absolutely trust each other, it ain't gonna work, no matter what. Trust is intrinsic which means it is built-in. You either have it or you don't. It is that simple.

    Posted by Joe Stack June 14, 10 08:27 PM
  1. Why must everyone think in such black-and-white terms? If you spend time alone with your children, you're neglecting your spouse. If you spend time alone with your spouse, you're neglecting your children. Please!

    I'm sure extremes do exist. I've heard of women who co-sleep with their kids for over a decade to avoid going to bed with their husbands. I've also been told there are couples who go out and party every night, ignoring their children most of the time. But there's a reason these folks are referred to as "extreme." They don't represent most people--they're the outliers.

    Most of us slog along somewhere in the middle. In the chaos that is life, we try to find time to throw a ball around in the back yard with Johnny or read a book to Susie, but we also try to squeeze in date nights with our spouses once in a while. And for our own sanity, we look for pockets of time to be alone for a few minutes, just to hear ourselves think. We keep striving for that ever-elusive balance--that feeling that we've given and received exactly what we should have to all the people in our lives we care about. But we rarely reach that pinnacle of human interaction. Usually, someone comes up short, not because we don't love him/her, but because there simply aren't enough hours in the day to meet each and every need of each and every person in our lives. And I *think* what the author of this book is saying--and I could be wrong, I haven't read his book--is that too often, one person winds up getting the short end of the stick over and over: the spouse.

    The answer is not to send the kids off to boarding school so you can make hubbie your #1 priority all the time. The answer is to recognize that your spouse has needs, even if he/she isn't as vocal about them as the kids are, and if you ignore those needs routinely, it will ultimately undermine your marriage. You don't have to make your spouse the end-all and be-all in your life. You just have to make sure he/she isn't getting the short end of the stick each and every time.

    Peace.

    Posted by Robin June 15, 10 06:20 AM
  1. Wow, this really makes me stop and think. Iím wondering if I'm using my kids to escape from my marriage and I think I might be. It's just so hard to even have a conversation without being interrupted a thousand times by the kids and then once they're in bed, I don't want to talk or deal with my husband anymore. And thatís no fault on his part, Iím just all tapped out from a long day with the kids. I was better at this for a while when I was a member of a personal renewal group based on Renee Trudeau's book, A Mother's Guide to Self Renewal (www.reneetrudeau.com). In her book she also talks about putting your partner first and there was even one month in the group when we were "required" to have a date with our partner. I loved giving myself permission to hire a sitter and spend some quality time with my guy. But as soon as itís not a ďrequirementĒ it really slips back to the bottom of my priority list. After reading this, Iím thinking I better move it right back to the top! Thanks!!

    Posted by Amy June 15, 10 02:36 PM
  1. sh - amen to everything you wrote.

    Posted by poppy609 June 17, 10 02:26 PM
  1. Such a good post ...
    www.ashortguidetoahappymarriage.com

    Posted by sharongilo June 17, 10 10:50 PM
  1. After 12 yrs of marriage, my wife informed me one night that she wasnt happy and wasnt in love with me like she used to be. One week later she had filed for divorce. We have always put our kids first and I never imagined that it would come to this. I have spent the last 8 yrs working 6 days a week and trying to give my wife and 2 children everything i thought would make them happy. I always thought that WE would be able to spend more time together when the children were older. It never dawned on me the damage that this would cause in our relationship.

    Posted by Johnny Chingas June 20, 10 12:43 PM
  1. This is a good post, but my soon-to-be ex-wife ALWAYS told me that it was ALL ABOUT THE KIDS, NOT US... needless to say I received very little affection and I did not know how to deal with it because she rolled away in bed, would not allow me to touch her (not initiating sex but comfort was desired) claiming she was tired for working long hours and her shoulder hurt (legit excuse with bad shoulder), but I worked long hours, took classes to try to better our lives with a better paying job, helped around the house as much as I could. What did it come to? My infidelity. After which I apologized profusely and asked for a second chance. I got bupkis. She finally tells me that her personality and nature does not allow her to forget indiscretions towards her and that is what is preventing her from ever loving me again...."issues of trust". But how can I rebuild her trust if she will not let me try.

    Posted by vj osborne June 20, 10 09:40 PM
  1. The comments to this column are a wonderful example of why men do not want marriage and kids. Speaking as someone who was married with children and is now divorced, my ex totally ignored our marriage once the kids came along. She was NEVER able to let go of the kid's needs. Her approach to the marriage post-kids WAS the reason why we are now divorced. Fact is, many of her friends have done the same. Very sad...

    Posted by sanity123 June 21, 10 08:12 PM
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about the author

Lylah M. Alphonse
Lylah M. Alphonse is a member of the Globe Magazine staff and mom and stepmom to five kids. She writes about juggling a full-time career and parenthood at The 36-Hour Day, and about everything else at Write. Edit. Repeat. When she's not glued to the computer or solving a kid-related crisis, she's in the kitchen or, occasionally, asleep.

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