Prioritizing family members can be tricky business, especially in a blended family. Keep in mind putting your spouse first doesn't mean you love him or her more than your own children.
11 Ways To Put Your Spouse First
Statistics show that blended families don't often have great success rates. In busy families, it's often the little things that make the biggest impact. Take small steps each day to show your spouse how important he or she is in the bigger picture.
Support the Other Person's Decisions
Disagreeing about things that affect the entire family in front of the children is a surefire way to show your spouse there's room for disrespect and manipulation. Be proactive in setting ground rules and making decisions on how discipline or other important matters will be handled at home. Then you can support your spouse's decisions in front of the kids to show respect for your partner and a unified front when it comes to parenting. If you take issue with something your spouse has said or done, discuss it in private, then talk with the kids about it if necessary.
Take Mini Marriage Time Outs
Make moments throughout the day where you send your spouse the message that he or she is on your mind and he or she matters. Just like you would put a note in your kid's lunch box, take a moment after lunch to send your spouse a text. Look for opportunities to have a few moments together even in the midst of your busy day. These mini moments can be as simple as a ritual long hug after dinner or locking the bathroom door in the morning so you can enjoy a shower together.
Offer Verbal Praise
Just as you let your kids know they're doing awesome, tell your spouse that he or she is too. Give specific praise in front of the whole family to boost your partner's confidence and help the kids see his or her best attributes.
Trust Your Partner's Intentions
You married this person because he or she is a kind, loving soul. In times of family turmoil or crisis, keep in mind that your partner's intentions are good, even if their delivery is not. When you express your concerns, use language that says you didn't like an action rather than something that puts their personality or values down.
Consider Your Spouse's Schedule
When planning activities for the kids, it's easy to focus on their visitation schedule, school schedule, and your work schedule. Don't forget to consult your spouse's calendar as a regular part of the planning process. Look for ways to avoid inconveniencing them even if it means the kids don't get exactly what they want.
Ask Your Spouse First
Whether talking about everyone's day around the dinner table or deciding where to go for dinner, ask your spouse for an answer first. Address his or her directly, then give the kids a chance to share their opinion.
Show Your Spouse Off on Social Media
Whenever your kids do something cute or awesome, you're likely to post a picture on your favorite social media platform. Give your spouse the same global recognition with five minutes of fame here and there on your feed.
Be Compassionate When Disagreements Occur
For many couples, creating a blended family is a first. This means there's been zero experience to help guide you and your partner during this very new process. With that in mind, during the ups and downs of your relationship, keep in mind that your partner is trying their best and always attempt to use an empathetic lens when there's a mishap or tiff between you two. Viewing spats as an opportunity to strengthen your relationship is a great way to work through issues in a kind and compassionate way. The better you two work through disagreements, the stronger your relationship will be and chances are you'll enjoy more quality time together.
Plan Small Surprises
You are and your partner may be overloaded with activities and schedules. Doing small, thoughtful surprises for each other can make a huge difference in you and your partner's day. Buy a favorite goody or candy and leave it somewhere you know they'll happen upon. You can also offer up a massage before bedtime, buy them a small trinket, offer to watch the kids so they can do a self-care activity on their own, do all the laundry or clean up around the house, or cook their favorite meal. Think about what they appreciate the most and pick a small surprise with the same theme.
There are going to be days where you or your partner need some alone time to recharge. This may be during the precious and limited time that you have together as a couple. To some this can feel rejecting. Keep in mind that different people unwind in unique ways and some may need alone time to do so, while others feel recharged when spending time with their partner. Discuss how much alone time you and your partner need and come up with a plan where you both feel happy and loved with this balance. Being flexible and understanding is an incredible gift to give to each other when it comes to self-care needs.
Support Your Partner's Relationship With Their Former Spouse
Blended families face unique challenges as the parents living in the household aren't the only ones who get a say in the kids' lives. Although it can be easy to feel jealous or threatened by your partner's relationship with their ex, it's important to view this relationship in the context of the children. Because the kids' relationship with both of their parents needs to be a priority, supporting your partner's relationship with their ex is an important aspect of that. Speak candidly with your partner about boundaries you both feel comfortable with and continue this as an open discussion with a lot of opportunity for learning.
Why Spouses Deserve Top Priority
A strong and healthy marriage is the foundation of any family, especially a blended family. Your love for each other is what made the family in the first place and it's what will make it successful.
Happy Spouses Make Happy Parents
Consider the old saying that you put your oxygen mask on before your child's if the airplane is about to crash. The same can be said for life in general. If you aren't taking care of your own physical, mental, and emotional needs, you can't present your best self to your kids. Great parenting or co-parenting starts with your own happiness.
Modeling Strong Relationships
Children learn how to have relationships by watching the surrounding adults. Even though your first marriage didn't work out, you can still show your kids resilience and great relationship skills now.
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
Trying to work, keep up a household, and care for your kids alone can be a daunting task that always feels out of balance. When you have a strong partnership to lean on, it can lighten your workload and create more time for fun and family bonding.
Loving Relationships Are Fulfilling
When you feel loved, respected, and supported by your partner, you are able to be a better parent, enjoy reduced stress levels, and model healthy relationships for your children. Being in a loving relationship feels good and encourages your brain to release oxytocin further reducing your stress levels, boosting your immune system, and allows for feelings of closeness and connectedness. When you put your relationship with your spouse first, you are prioritizing taking care of yourself, your relationship, and your blended family.
Make Marriage a Top Priority
Putting your spouse first means considering his or her needs before making decisions that affect the entire household. While it may be difficult for everyone to grasp at first, making marriage the top priority in your life has nothing to do with levels of love.