I have read many an article over at the MMSL blog and I have to say that I have come to appreciate the viewpoint that Athol, the author, brings to the topics at hand. Many times something he says will hit home. His article from Monday is no exception: "She Comes Fourth In Your Life vs. Children Come First." To give you the short and sweet, essentially he's addressing the order of importance in which you place your spouse/partner. It appears the norm has become (1) self -or- children, (2) blood relatives/immediate family, (3) career -or- mission, and lastly, (4) the spouse/partner. This has led to many an unstable/unhealthy relationship because ultimately the spouse/partner ends up feeling pushed away and devalued. This particular topic has been one I have grappled with on many occasion.
As many of you know, my husband and I started dating in high school (insert sappy sigh of "awww" here). High school was not as much of a struggle when it came to who came first in our lives. It seemed that family was at the top of the list and then each other, but in our new state of infatuation with one another sometimes it seemed family and each other were tied. However, going off to College posed a new challenge to where we ranked one another. The fact that College was so costly and we were both paying our own way, quite frequently our studies outranked each other on our list of priorities. This would cause many an argument based on the sheer unhappiness either of us felt when having to settle for less time with one another.
First Career / Apartment
Once our College graduation was out of the way, one would think the order of balance would realign itself however that was not the case. The pressures to be successful in our new jobs and also to maintain the apartment we resided in quickly took precedence. Dispersing household chores equally did help, but it did still seem that our careers had wedged themselves into one of those top spots and did not appear to be giving up footing anytime soon.
This one we struggled with quite a bit. Anyone who's had a puppy knows what sort of demands on your time this presents. We were not immune to this. Very quickly any sort of sensed inequity (i.e. "who walked him last") would erupt new arguments and our abilities to be spontaneous together very quickly dwindled because the best interests of the puppy always had to be considered. I'll admit that similar to the "children come first" notion, I put our puppy on a pedestal. Not to mention, the puppy/dog shared our bed. Not a smart move on our part.
Career Changes / Housing / Wedding Planning
I'll kind of lump the remainder of pressures we've encountered into one miscellaneous paragraph here because in a very short period of time the see-saw of life was out of balance again. Things like job changes, buying a house, and planning a wedding definitely upset the apple cart. I could feel the strain these items put on our relationship because once again, Justin was not in a top spot. I also felt I had taken on the lion's share of what should have had both of our involvement and I was resentful at times as well. We went through a very dark period in our lives , unfortunately during our first year or so of marriage, which I'm fairly positive much of this contributed to because we allowed other things to outrank each other.
New Baby - The Unknown Variable
Now that we're on the right track with where we rank each other in our lives, however, we've gone and threw ourselves a curve ball yet again by getting pregnant. I, of course, am wary of how the new baby is not only going to change the dynamic between us and our fur-child, but between each other. I must say that since hindsight is 20/20, I feel a little more prepared for this challenge to our rankings but it doesn't mean I'm any less worried about how things will play out. Will I become so consumed with the child that Justin feels neglected? Will I have enough energy and forethought left over to ensure that I make him a top priority? Will he do the same? Will we grow together as a family or end up bitter and resentful of one another? I realize thousands of babies are born every day and somehow the majority manages to make it work, but is our relationship solid enough? I guess I could "what if" til the cows come home but none the less, these are things that weigh heavily on my mind at the moment.
Thoughts, insight, and shared experiences would be appreciated.