Wife or Kids? Who Comes First?

Brian Thatcher
5 min readJan 29, 2021

The life of a husband/father often comes with some tough decisions to make. For example, should you buy your wife a pair or earrings or a necklace? Should you watch football or the show that your wife wants to watch? Should you toss your baby two feet in the air or six feet when playing with him? Tough decisions and choices are an everyday part of the job. However, there seems to be one that pops up regularly and never seems to have a clear-cut answer. The scenario goes something like this: You come home from work and, after doing the things that must be done, (such as dinner, cleaning up, getting ready for bed, etc.) you’ll have about 30 minutes of “free time” before you go to bed. Now, you know this “free time” isn’t going to be spent on yourself, so the question, and regular problem, is this: Do you spend that 30 minutes playing with your kids or doing something for/with your wife?

This can be a difficult decision because both choices have an upside. By spending time with your children, you’re showing them they’re loved and worth your time. Such time can help build a strong relationship and get them to show you greater respect and love in the future. On that same note, spending time with your wife can have the same effect. You know she’ll appreciate it and feel more willing to let you watch football on Sunday without suddenly needing you to do something during the fourth quarter when the score is tied. You benefit from both choices, so once again, there simply isn’t a draw back from spending quality time with one or the other. You may ask, “Why can’t everyone spend the time together?” The answer is, “Because that makes for a more boring article, so stow your logic and pay attention.” Since all things appear to be equal, the choice has to be based on something else, but what?

For me, the “what” was answered for me wayyyyyyy back in the 90’s when I was I teen. The setting was South Dakota where my oldest brother was going to college. We (my parents, sister, next oldest brother, and myself) had arrived and were in my brother’s dorm room. At some point, my next oldest brother and my mom had gotten into an argument over something that I can no longer recall. During this argument, my brother took a step toward my mom. Did the mover appear threatening? Sure. Had my brother, in all the arguments he’d had with my mom, ever attacked or threatened her? Nope. Did I think he was going to hurt her? No. He was rebellious (most teenagers are), but he wasn’t violent, especially toward women. However, my father saw it differently and quickly stepped in between the two and asked my brother if he really wanted to fight. For clarity sake, my brother is about 5’ 10” and was going about 200 pounds at the time while my dad was (is) around 6’ 4” and sitting around 350 pounds, so it would have been a one-sided fight. For a second, my brother looked surprised until he realized what’d happened, and calmed down. My mom was a bit confused for a second as well, as she’d never felt threatened by her kids. As for me, I took a few lessons from the incident.

Lesson 1: People can’t read your mind. They can only go off of what they hear in your words and read from your body. My brother wouldn’t have hurt my mom, but my dad didn’t know this for sure, so he stepped in between them. Be sure that your mouth and body are conveying the message you want them to.

Lesson 2: Your wife comes first. Regardless of any issues I may have of some of my father’s raising techniques, I never doubted he loved his kids. He not only told us, but showed it in many ways over the years. Yet, the love for his kids never eclipsed the love he had for his wife. In my later teenage years, my dad told me a few times that though he loved us kids, he chose his wife before he chose us, so she would always come first. A few years later, my then girlfriend and I visited my parents and I told my dad that I was thinking of proposing. During our conversation, he told me that once I was married, I needed to put my wife’s wants and needs ahead of everyone else’s, including his and my mom’s. He never left any room to question just how important a wife should be to her husband.

Lesson 3: Making your wife the most important person in your life doesn’t mean you’re her doormat. My father did his best to provide for his family and show his wife that he loved her. Does that mean my parents never fought or argued? Of course not. The man had integrity, but he wasn’t saint. He still did all kinds of things (some intentionally because he thought it was funny) that drove my mom nuts. That was his personality and, even though he put his wife first, he never lost his uniqueness.

Lesson 4: Actions speak louder than words. I’ve hit all around this lesson already, but I wanted to state it out right for the record. A father can tell his kids that he loves their mother, but if he never shows it, they’ll never believe him. Children will follow an example before they’ll follow good advice.

Alright, the moral part of this article is done. Thank goodness for that and good job if you’re still reading this. You can now tell people you read something today that didn’t involve politics. But let’s wrap this up so you can get back to living your life. Going back to the situation that started this whole thing, what’s a father to do? My solution is to go in to your wife and start talking to her. If your kids are anything like mine, they’ll soon be in the room wondering what mom and dad are doing. Around that time, your wife will tell you to take the kids and read them a story or something before putting them to bed. This way, your wife saw that you chose her, your kids see that you are willing to spend time with them, and you get to go to bed feeling like a winner, because darn it, you are!