February 2, 2009
An important awareness
My father married my step mother when I was 15. I was completely supportive, but I remember feeling a sting the first time I became aware that he was now loyal to her first. Even then, however, I knew it was appropriate, and I also felt freed by the order of his priorities. I credit his loyalty to his new bride as one of the reasons my father and step mom have been married over 40 years. Many parents never make that loyalty shift when they remarry.
Being a mom, forgetting to be a wife
Even in a nuclear family, priorities get can skewed when a baby is born. I remember my (late) husband telling me he missed me after we had a child. I’m sure he did. I was so busy being a mother; I forgot to be a wife. Many women displace their husbands. Men to it too – although they are more likely to place their careers over their intimate partners.
Everything we do signals the person who gave everything to be with us where they stand in our pecking order. It’s whether we consider our partner when we dress in the morning. Or whether we take the call from a friend when our partner is initiating a sensitive discussion. It’s whether we’re willing to step out of our comfort zones for them. It’s whether we act like it’s a pleasure or a burden to do things for them. It’s how forgiving we are when they make mistakes.
This is not to suggest that spousal whims should be prioritized over children’s needs. Love doesn’t ask partners to betray their principles or forgo legitimate concerns. It is to say that no matter what else is going on in life, we find the time or we make the time to send the message to our intimate partner that we have placed them on top in the throne of our hearts.
The true measure of your priorities
Take a look at what you say and do in the course of an average day. If you were an outside observer, what message would you get about your priorities, loyalties and commitments? I can tell what you’re really committed to if I look at your calendar and your checkbook. I can tell where your heart is by seeing where you spend your time and your money.
Where do your priorities lie? And how’s that working for you?
It’s working great for my father and my step mom.