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Is Your Marriage the Top Priority?
Mom with a View

Is Your Marriage the Top Priority?

Why do we have a tough time putting our husbands first?


I was busy preparing a class the other day when my husband wanted to chat. My first instinct was to tell him I was busy (politely of course) and suggest that we speak later. But I stopped myself. The topic of the class was improving your marriage, and if that wasn’t enough, the essential point I planned to make was that the secret to a great marriage is to put your husband first.

I repressed a sigh (!) and prepared to engage in conversation. I was certainly conscious of the irony.

Why is it so hard to put our husbands first? Is it all ego? Or are there other issues at play? I think that while most of us appreciate and understand the idea, we really only pay lip service to it. We don’t really accept it. We have a lot of goals in life – personal goals, career goals, financial goals, parenting goals and marriage goals. Putting our husband first seems to address only one of those.

So perhaps the real issue comes down to how we look at marriage. Is it our primary goal or just one of many? Let’s put aside for a moment the more basic issue that a relationship with God is our ultimate and most essential of goals. The Almighty has given us many paths to achieving that. Is our marriage a primary one?

I would argue yes, that the opportunity to grow and give and learn about connection is most present and simultaneously most challenging in our marriages. It’s not hard to give to our children (usually, if we’re not too exhausted…); they are children after all (no matter their age!). But our husbands are adults, peers so to speak. It’s harder to give when you think they could do it themselves. It’s harder to give when the need is less apparent. It’s harder to give when the dependence seems confusing. It’s harder to give to another adult, especially one who should know for himself where the bowls, spoons, cereal and milk are!

Before we can talk about how to put our husbands first, we really need to decide if that’s how we look at our marriages. Is our goal to have a great marriage above all else or is it on par with the other goals listed above (and some not listed above)? This is the crucial question. (And of course, husbands need to ask that question too.) If we can’t answer yes to the first part, then the rest of the conversation is moot.

I believe that if we have a healthy marriage, some of our other goals will naturally follow and be more easily accomplished. I think we will be better parents if our focus is not solely on our children, if we give them the example of other healthy, secure relationships. I think we will be more successful at achieving our personal goals if we give our marriage the attention it requires. I venture to suggest that we may even succeed better in our careers if we come from a more satisfied home life. Maybe…

So the first step is deciding that our marriage is our priority. Only then can we really be prepared to do put our husbands first. Only then do we want to put our husbands first. Only then is he not in competition with all our other goals, dreams and desires.

Deciding that our marriage comes before (almost) all else is not necessarily easy. It is not a value reinforced in the world around us. We may have to be prepared to be a little out of step with our peers. And we have to take the long view. We have to invest now for the future – although there should be current rewards as well.

If we accept this idea and make this decision, then we are ready to battle the obstacles that stand in our way and look for practical steps to accomplish this goal. Come back for next week’s blog to see those tools.

February 11, 2018

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Visitor Comments: 5

(5) Bobby5000, February 17, 2018 11:20 PM


Some women have strange perspectives. A family member had a daughter renovating a home, some things were going wrong, and my family member had some good suggestions which seemed unappreciated. I suggested that she start with a compliment to her daughter, tell her what a wonderful job she had done, and end with a compliment. My family member thought quizzically for a few seconds and said, "she's my daughter, I don't have to go through all that."

It's stranger that sometimes strangers can be treated much better than family

(4) Geri Taran, February 16, 2018 5:08 PM

Too lopsided a focus.

(3) Yael, February 15, 2018 4:33 AM

I think it could be challenging to put our marriage first because

we live in a very outward focused society. We are always judging each other by our outward accomplishments; good looking family, home, pictures on the walls, etc. And a good, strong, happy, wonderful marriage takes a lot of work and a lot of time and the results are inward. Only the two spouses know how wonderful and satisfying it is. The two of you look just as pretty in the family pic smiling fakely or smiling really. The results and resulting joy are just for the two of you and the kids to enjoy. No societal brownie points like money, clothing, cars and showy home to show for it. Just deep inner satisfaction, joy and love. But what can I say? It's worth it one gazillion percent.
Thank you Emuna for your useful reminders! As the great Rabbi says, I'm not teaching you anything new. You know it all. But we need to be reminded of it always.

(2) Keith, UK, February 13, 2018 5:59 PM

An Excellent Article

Thank you Emuna for an excellent article (and this is coming from a guy!!!). I fully agree... 100%. Of course it applies fully to both my dear longsuffering wife and myself. Next month is our 38th wedding anniversary, so with G-d's unfailing help, we must be doing something right!. I actually decided to read your article out loud to my wife, and she is in full agreement too.... (P.S. : We had a good laugh at one point. I somehow managed to make a somewhat "Freudian slip" and instead of reading "bowls, spoons, cereal and milk", it erronously came out as "bowels, spoons, cereal and milk" !!!)... We laughed for quite a while after that one! ... Many thanks again... שלום ... Keith.. :)

(1) Anonymous, February 11, 2018 7:50 PM

marriage imitates the relationship with G-d

I always like to say that marriage is a middos factory! It is the relationship, that if looked at correctly, can help us become our best selves. It is a relationship that resembles the closest relationship we can have next to the one we have with Hashem. So if you want to get close to Hashem get close to your spouse! It pushes you to become your best self, your best image of Hashem! And yes I agree the greatest gift you can give your children is a wonderful relationship with your spouse. Your children will see how to respct, love and care for another fellow Jew, what can be better that that! Like you mentioned it is not always the easy choice, but it is always the right choice. Hatzlacha for all you do for the Klal.

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