Theory & Essay

Spouse, Parents…or Kids: Who Should Rank “First?”

Decisions, Decisions

While teasing a few Patriots fans on Facebook yesterday (Even though it may be blasphemous for me to admit this as a Steeler fan, I dislike the Pats more than I dislike the Ravens. To repeat something I said on Twitter a couple weeks ago, if the Ravens are beets — a food I thoroughly dislike, but respect — the Pats are beets…covered in sh*t), I saw something in my news feed that caught my eye.

I happen to be friends with Anslem of Naked With Socks On fame, and if you’re familiar with him at all you probably know that he’s recently married and just launched a joint blog with his wife — who’s also a writer. Anyway, the thing that caught my eye was a new post on their blog titled “My Mama or My Wife: Who’s the No. 1 Woman in a Man’s Life?” — a piece where Anslem wonders exactly how his marriage has affected the decades-old dynamic he has with his mother.

It’s funny how there are certain questions in life that you never think about until you have to. I found myself faced with one of those questions the other day: Who do I love more my mama or my wife?

At any other point in my life if I were posed with a question that pitted my mother against any other person, place or thing in the world and the woman who gave me life would win hands down every time. No questions asked. None needed. But recently my ability to answer such a question with absolute and immediate conviction began to waver a bit. Don’t get me wrong, I love my mother unconditionally and with all my heart but I can say similar things about my wife. Unlike the latter, though, the Mrs. is someone I chose to love. Somehow that makes this different.

Hmmm.

Now, because the loves are so drastically different, attempting to categorize the love one has for a husband or wife and the love one has for parents doesn’t seem to be possible. It’s like asking someone “Which do you need more? Water or your heart?” — both extremely vital, but both serving completely different functions.

But, the more you think about, the more you realize your answer has to be your spouse. They’re the ones you’re choosing to start a life with, the ones you vow to be with until death, the “top spot on any beneficiary form.” Basically, if your spouse doesn’t supersede all, you shouldn’t be getting married. Everything and everyone else should become secondary…including your children.

I imagine that most of you all were with me until those last three words. “Yeah, Champ. You’re right. As much as I love Mom Dukes, my wife has to be number one. Really, what’s the point of marrying someone if they don’t automatically get that number one spot, and…what? Wait? What? Kids? My wife should take priority over the people we bring into this Earth??? Can’t roll with you on this one, man”

Lemme explain.

I think that the best families operate through a hierarchical matrix that goes something like this:

Parents, as a collective unit and as individual people, should value their kids lives over their own. Their primary duty as parents is to protect and provide for the people they’ve created, and if they were forced to make a choice between their lives — individually or as a collective parental unit — or their children’s lives, it should be a no-brainer.

But, the parents as individuals should love and value each other more than they do their children.

You know I can’t make a point without including some contrived analogy that actually ends up confusing more than it clarifies, so…

Let’s imagine a four person family (two parents, two kids) was on the Titanic. The ship is sinking, and there’s only room on the lifeboat for two people. In this situation, the parents should definitely put the kids in the lifeboat — sacrificing their collective lives for the lives of their children.

Now, let’s say you’re on that same sinking ship, and you were knocked off the boat, but the sea current miraculously led you to the shore. Once you get out the water, you glance off the shore and see that your spouse and your young child are in the water behind you, struggling to stay afloat. You can only save one, though. In this situation, as heart-wrenching and devastating as this decision may be, you reach down and save your spouse…even if your spouse doesn’t want to be the one to be saved.

The (somewhat morbid) rationale behind this? If you believe your spouse was put on Earth to be your spouse, they’re irreplaceable. (And, if you don’t believe this, you probably shouldn’t be getting married…but that’s another topic for another day.) Your kids, as precious as they are, aren’t as irreplaceable. (I hate the way that sentence sounds, but there’s really no other way to put it.)

Heh. I just had a vision that, years (YEARS, I TELL YOU. YEARS!!!¹) from now, some precocious little big-headed boy that (hopefully) looks more like his mother than me will be googling his daddy’s name, searching for any information he can find on me. He’ll come across this article, read the entire thing (because he’s a smart motherf*cker just like his dad), frown, find me sitting on the couch, and ask “Is it true that you’d let me die.”

Me: “Ummm…well…ummm”

Champ Jr (CJ): “That’s ok Dad. I understand. That’s what you’re supposed to do. When I get a wife someday, I’ll let you die too.”

Me: “I taught you well and sh*t, son. I taught you well and sh*t.” 

¹Knocking on wood

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a contributing editor for EBONY.com. He resides in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes.

  • http://www.shardesaidwhat.blogspot.com ShardeMarie

    ehhhhhhh I’d never save anyone before saving my kids. But I agree with everything else.

    • http://www.shardesaidwhat.blogspot.com ShardeMarie

      I mean realistically, if I had to choose between my husband and my 2 kids, I’d die trying to save them all. But I agree, the spouse comes first, but if you both love your children the way you should, there will never be a time where you’d have to choose between your spouse and your kids.

      • sam

        Like

      • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

        But I agree, the spouse comes first, but if you both love your children the way you should, there will never be a time where you’d have to choose between your spouse and your kids.

        we all hope not and sh*t

        • http://www.shardesaidwhat.blogspot.com ShardeMarie

          Yeah, didn’t work too well for my father, but I guess that’s what happens when you marry a b*tch. He’s had to tell her multiple times that if she makes him choose between her and us , we win every time. And in all fairness, we were here first and we’ll be here long after they divorce. She’s wife #3. Hope she didn’t think she won a special prize or nothing.

      • A Woman’s Eyes

        A real man won’t wait for you to save him. He should be trying to save the kids or saving you, depending on his choice. lol

        • http://asiyah3.wordpress.com asiyah3

          I like this!

        • http://job-detective.com Marzell

          “A real man won’t wait for you to save him. He should be trying to save the kids or saving you, depending on his choice. ” Powerful statement, I completely and wholeheartedly agree. This is the difference between an Alpha male (not to be confused with the fraternity) and a regular dude.

          • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

            “This is the difference between an Alpha male (not to be confused with the fraternity) and a regular dude.”

            actually, if we’re going to use the strictest definition of “alpha,” an alpha male might be more likely to make sure he’s alright first than any other type of guy.

            • A Woman’s Eyes

              ” actually, if we’re going to use the strictest definition of “alpha,” an alpha male might be more likely to make sure he’s alright first than any other type of guy.”

              And I don’t disgree. He has to get himself straightened out before he goes to save his woman or his children!

              • Nina

                An alpha male usually will have multiple offspring by multiple women. Alpha males make sure their DNA proliferates. They wont die, not when there are more women to impregnate and make more babies with. Its women who have a finite number of offspring they can bear and cant afford to lose one.

                • Justmetheguy

                  ” An alpha male usually will have multiple offspring by multiple women. Alpha males make sure their DNA proliferates. They wont die, not when there are more women to impregnate and make more babies with. Its women who have a finite number of offspring they can bear and cant afford to lose one.”

                  So true. Yet another reason I consider the wife replaceable…I mean, if it comes down to it and sh*t

                • A Woman’s Eyes

                  Alpha men value being immediate rescuers of their family in emergencies and protecting the primary family unit. No comment on his alleged extracurricular activities.

                  • http://twitter.com/fiveisthenumber fiveisthenumber

                    His priority would be the continuation of the family name, the family DNA…that would be saving the male of the species. He would likely deem the females replaceable…IJS

    • http://genxaestheticism.com eve

      this reminds me … it’s weird to me and a little disconcerting when i see married people talk more about their kids, and reference their spouse as an afterthought. (i’m not saying you’re doing this; the thought just came when i read this comment & some of the others). the spouse is your life partner! they should come first. they’re the foundation upon which you build your family, kids and all.

      • A Woman’s Eyes

        I think that talking about your kids more than your spouse isn’t evidence that your spouse isn’t #1 in your life. I think some people are just fascinated that those human beings that came out of their body are doing what babies/kids do. Sometimes though, this behavior is a coping mechanism. Who knows what has shifted in the relationship that one spouse just focuses on the children. Not to say that’s how it should be ideally, but realistically, people go through phases and experiences during a marriage. Also, sometimes, people avoid talking about their spouse because they feel the conversation will be dull or they feel they’d be hijacking the conversation. Not everyone wants to hear about your spouse, they want to hear about you. Or they get in the habit of asking about the kids and not the spouse.

  • Angel Baby

    ” Basically, if your spouse doesn’t supersede all, you shouldn’t be getting married. Everything and everyone else should become secondary…including your children.”

    This didn’t need explanation. I agree. Ok, going back to read your explanation anyway. lol

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

      “This didn’t need explanation.”

      lol, apparently it did

  • http://www.themoxiesophic.com The Moxie Sophic

    Anyone who desires to have a successful and happy marriage should put their spouse above their kids. When the husband/wife team are a happy united front then the kids automatically benefit. Making your spouse a priority over the kids doesn’t mean the children are deprived or neglected.

    • http://iamyourpeople.com/ I Am Your People

      +1

    • Rewind

      I don’t think it’s about the kids being deprived although plenty of parents choose their lover over the kids and the kids definitely suffer for that choice.

      Kids are a blank slate and never asked to be in this world. If you make them, they own your life. It’s that simple, you owe it to the kids you create to give your life to them until they are able to move ahead on their own..otherwise what was the point of having a kid?

      • Justmetheguy

        ” Kids are a blank slate and never asked to be in this world. If you make them, they own your life. It’s that simple, you owe it to the kids you create to give your life to them until they are able to move ahead on their own..otherwise what was the point of having a kid?”

        Exactly. Wit so many “very smart people” saying otherwise it’s a wonder so many ppl have so many issues. Clearly a lot of ppl feel that way…smh, thank God for me havin parents that had their priorities straight

    • http://www.styleillusions.com WIP

      I agree. I imagine happy, satisfied, fulfilled parents should be great parents.

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

      When the husband/wife team are a happy united front then the kids automatically benefit. Making your spouse a priority over the kids doesn’t mean the children are deprived or neglected.

      ***nodding head.***

    • http://pinchmycheekie.wordpress.com Cheekie

      Agreed. Kinda like parents are always hesitant to put their own health first when they’re overly stressed. Kids are some observant mofos. Folks may THINK they’re helping by putting everyone before themselves, but how can you help someone else if you ain’t up to par yourself?

      • Kidsister04

        I always use the safety instructions they give you before your flight takes off. They say put your mask on first before you try to help anybody else with theirs.

        • http://pinchmycheekie.wordpress.com Cheekie

          YES! Great analogy.

    • http://asiyah3.wordpress.com asiyah3

      I guess this is why I’m never marrying because I won’t put that jerk above my kids. Too many men abandon women for me to seriously consider putting a man above children (that even includes children I might adopt).

    • D

      AMEN!

      The reason 50% of marriages end in divorce is because most people transform from “husband and wife” to “Dad and Mom”, after the kids are born. THIS IS WRONG!

      You shouldn’t lose your identity just for the kids! I see most parents start spoiling their kids and neglecting their spouses, which is a shame…and a recipie for bratty kids and cheating husbands!

      • golden_standard

        I’m late but I agree. That’s why I think newly married couples should wait at least a year before having kids.

  • Iceprincess

    This wuda been a good topic bout family dynamics until champ took it all the way left talkn bout desert islands, who wud u save, & all dat. Things aint that black & white. Im sorry, he jus threw me a lil bit wit dat 1. Now my thought process is all jumbled. Lol

    • http://twitter.com/#!/froman33 darth frosty

      Agreed!

    • http://wildcougarconfessions.com Wild Cougar

      Um…..Ice? Dearest. Your purposely misspelled words offend my eyes. Please, please, please, for the love of God or whatever you love, save that kind of writing for your text messages. It’s like nails on a chalkboard to read. It’s like smelling a fart in an elevator. It’s like watching a fat woman in spandex run to catch a bus.

      I beg of you.

      • Iceprincess

        I just think of it as shorthand. *shrugs* But since you asked so nicely, i’ll do my best just for you, cougar :-) However, if im drunk when i post, no promises! (I usually post at midnight). Deal?

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

      Now my thought process is all jumbled. Lol

      jumble deez

  • Iceprincess

    Ok ok i think i hav it now. It goes God, kids, spouse, parents. In dar order.

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

      why?

    • http://asiyah3.wordpress.com asiyah3

      I like that God is first. With God first everything else falls into place, imo.

    • NP Nupe 3

      God First, then spouse, then kids. If you are seeking a Christ centered marriage, this is clearly established in the bible. Other than your relationship with Christ, nothing should be more important than your marriage (i.e. spouse). That includes offspring, jobs, parents, friends, frat, money, etc. etc. etc. So often this order gets screwed up which is where most of the problems. Keep in mind that having priorities doesnt mean you just completely neglect the other things that are important.

  • Angel Baby

    “You can only save one, though. In this situation, as heart-wrenching and devastating as this decision may be, you reach down and save your spouse…even if your spouse doesn’t want to be the one to be saved.”

    Okay “I-Robot” aka Champ (LMAO), NO, wrong rationale. I don’t feel like explaining right now. I agree spouse over children but not in this kind of example. I’ll give examples in the morning. lol you’re funny.

    • Iceprincess

      I kno rite! Dramatic much? Lmfao :-)

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

      Okay “I-Robot” aka Champ (LMAO), NO, wrong rationale

      lol, that was a good one. very appropriate and sh*t

  • http://www.thesunk.com/2012/02/guest-post-what-is-this.html The Hallway

    Actually, it goes God, Spouse, Kids, then Parents.

    All the lonely a$$ women be the ones putting kids before their spouse. Sooner or later your kids will leave the nest and you will have to find happiness, not to say that you have to find this happiness in a man but you can find it in a loving relationship with your spouse. And you don’t have to neglect your children to find love, but you have to draw lines.

    However, Champ I believe your spouse would resent you if you saved her and not the child. As a man, as a husband how would you be able to explain that to a woman? Even worse than losing your wife is having a wife that resents you for the rest of your life, because you saved her life and not the child.

    On the contrary it is understandable, but the psychological repercussions of such an act would be irrevocable. Leaving myself to beg the question: Would it be better if the man just risk his life to save wife and child, and die in the process?

    Nonetheless, good sh!t. And NWSO is always dropping those introspective, fuzzy sock, Drake Canada Dry blogs. I need to check out the one you referenced.

    Im out.

    • A Woman’s Eyes

      ” However, Champ I believe your spouse would resent you if you saved her and not the child. As a man, as a husband how would you be able to explain that to a woman? Even worse than losing your wife is having a wife that resents you for the rest of your life, because you saved her life and not the child.”

      Resent? How about divorce? Marriages that experience the death of a child have a high rate of divorce.

      A mother is not going to go home with her husband after seeing he didn’t try to save their child and all she does is resent him? That ain’t happening.

      • http://www.shardesaidwhat.blogspot.com ShardeMarie

        Yeah IDK how I would feel if my husband saved me and not our children. Might as well kill them yourself if you don’t try to save them.

      • Kidsister04

        See: Janet and Malik Yoba in WDIGM

        • A Woman’s Eyes

          To this day, I don’t get why she didn’t try to hurt him at least, when he burned up the only photos they had of their baby.

    • nillalatte

      ‘All the lonely a$$ women be the ones putting kids before their spouse. Sooner or later your kids will leave the nest and you will have to find happiness”

      Totally backwards arse dude logic. Every woman knows that the kids will leave the house. That’s why we raise them! Some mothers, if they do their job well, are happy that they have raised self sufficient offspring. You make it sound like the only happiness in a woman’s life is to raise kids. Raising kids is work, not some damn game. And, believe me, if you’ve raised them well you will be happy they are flourishing on their own. There is life after raising children— and it ain’t raising grandkids!

      • http://www.thesunk.com/2012/02/guest-post-what-is-this.html The Hallway

        @Nillalatte

        When people chop and screw my paragraph/comments, then try to make an argument based on part of what I said. Pipe Down Mama.

      • Justmetheguy

        ” ‘All the lonely a$$ women be the ones putting kids before their spouse. Sooner or later your kids will leave the nest and you will have to find happiness”

        Totally backwards arse dude logic. ”

        Oh nah, don’t put that ish on dude logic. Put that on selfish arsehole that doesn’t actually want kids’ logic. Dude’s ain’t gon ride wit him on this one lol

        • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

          “Dude’s ain’t gon ride wit him on this one lol”

          I beg to differ.

          • Justmetheguy

            ” I beg to differ”

            I should re-phrase. Only other selfish arsehole dudes will ride with him on this one :)
            But you’re at least considerate enough to be childless, a lot of people with your mentality aren’t…I wonder how Panama feels about this topic…

            • Mena

              Well damn bruh!

    • http://twitter.com/tylerg_thomas tgtaggie

      “Actually, it goes God, Spouse, Kids, then Parents.”

      +1. That is how I always looked at it. God is the only person in my life that comes before anything in my life. If you look at examples of people with marital problems, a lot of those problems stem from the spouse not being prioritize correctly. e.g. husband putting work/career before wife, wife putting kids before husband, wife and husband putting parents before their marriage, wife putting her friends before husband.

      I’m not saying those things are not important but you have to choose to treat the person you love as the most important person in the world to you. You have to be willing to put them first.

      Kids grow up and the couple that put the kids first b/f their spouse are the ones wondering (at their 25th wedding anniversary) how they grew so far apart. They are also the ones that sleep in separate rooms. lol.

    • Kweku

      Uhm, happiness comes from within. You don’t need anything or anyone outside of you to experience joy. Putting that kind of unspoken burden on a child or spouse, as if they are a court jester (not what you said at all Hallway, it’s just my choice of words), is just wrong IMHO — and sets you up for possible disappointment. And what happens if your spouse becomes terminally ill or your child is born with a condition that requires more care from you than your “happiness quota” will allow? Not to hop on a soapbox but as someone married with children I’m just not following your logic.

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

      “However, Champ I believe your spouse would resent you if you saved her and not the child”

      yeah, i know. it kind of reminds me of that scene in Crash with wet wipes and thandie newton. it’s like, wtf are you supposed to do?

      • MJoy

        Beat the cops ass. She will visit you in jail and stay loyal because she’s just as down as you!

        • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

          lol, there would have been no beating cop’s asses that night. the next time she saw him would have been in the morgue.

          • Justmetheguy

            ” lol, there would have been no beating cop’s asses that night. the next time she saw him would have been in the morgue.”

            I actually gotta ride with Champ on this one. Not the same situation. This is actually a much tougher decision for me, but I guess I’d….sheesh. I don’t know what the hell I would do. But in the situation from the post, it’s a no-brainer I’d take the kid. Adults are replaceable.

        • A Woman’s Eyes

          She would become a widow.

    • VeeWoo

      Not me… I’d say “Good looking out baby.” Go home fix that man a sammich and a cold beer and then sign us up for some couples counseling.

      But there may be a reason why I don’t have children. LOL

      • Corey

        I like your style! Lol. Can you make it Steel Reserve??

    • http://asiyah3.wordpress.com asiyah3

      “Sooner or later your kids will leave the nest”

      And so will your spouse. Look at the high divorce rates and the increasing number of women who are abandoned by their spouses. At least children come back most of the time.

      • Justmetheguy

        ” And so will your spouse. Look at the high divorce rates and the increasing number of women who are abandoned by their spouses. ”

        That’s what I’m sayin. The spell fades after the first 5-10 years. By year 15 most people can barely tolerate each other, and often find other ppl they like better (thus all affairs that tend to put the last nail in the coffin). I can’t even see how a chick could respect a man that took her and let his daughter or son drown. I know I wouldn’t respect him…

  • nillalatte

    Um, hell no. A spouse can be replaced. People do that all day erday. Maybe because you don’t have kids or because you aren’t married or whatever, but your kids come before anyone else. Always. Period. No one else or anything else matters.

    Now, that said, back in the day, that’s why people used to have large families. Both my grandmothers came from a family with 12 siblings. Most died in childhood. Few lived to be over 50. They had big families back in the day because mortality was horrid. They knew they’d lose children and if an adult made it to 40 they were considered very old and damn lucky.

    I can’t imagine one, not one incident where I would have chosen my husband (when I was married) over the survival of my children. You on your own bro. Better get those Rambo skills in order ’cause I’m gonna leave yo’ butt hanging in the wind. Can’t cut it? You ARE the weakest link. Next.

    • Anon

      And thats why you are no longer married. Fail!

      • nillalatte

        Wrong. Because HE was the failure. Since you don’t know it’s best you go on about your business.

    • Justmetheguy

      “Um, hell no. A spouse can be replaced. People do that all day erday. Maybe because you don’t have kids or because you aren’t married or whatever, but your kids come before anyone else. Always. Period. No one else or anything else matters.”

      +1 They’re really makin my face scrunch up with some of these justifications for choosin the spouse…smh. It’s actually a no-brainer to me…

      • sam

        Im guessing yall dont have a family. Or arent happily married.

        • nillalatte

          I do have a family and was married. Why I am no longer married is easy to explain. He is an arsehole who did arsehole shyt and got his arse kicked to the curb.

          In the circle of life, the offspring are the ones the parents are supposed to protect and fight for, not their spouse.

      • nillalatte

        You almost make me want to marry you.

        • Justmetheguy

          lol @ Nillalette- I know right. I definitely gained newfound respect for you after reading your initial response. These folks tryna make me feel like I’m the crazy one. My parents been married for almost 40 years and I GUARANTEE you that they’d both choose the kids first. I would make a joke about why white kids turn out better just based off these answers but I’ll resist the urge lol….smh tho

      • THIS MAKES ME MAD

        It irks me that so many people put their partners before their children and it can be unbelievably detrimental to the children’s well being (or should I say lack of). It’s also incredibly selfish to think that your spouse comes before your kids- why? because you’re afraid of being alone? BS!!!

        CHILDREN DON’T ASK TO BE BORN! They have no say in the matter, nor do they have a say in who their parent is. Sadly so many people have kids and put them last- it’s not fair. Children are innocent, pure and need to be protected. Women putting their husbands first is one of the key reasons why so many children witness their mothers being abused and are abused themselves. It’s the reason why so many children grow up resenting their parents and end up having no relationship with them. Your child should never come last in your life, if they do, you’ll suffer the implications and frankly you deserve to.

        Reading this post made my want to scream! #SELFISHNESS

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

      “Um, hell no. A spouse can be replaced. People do that all day erday.”

      and most of those people shouldnt have been married in the first place.

      in an ideal situation — not the b.s. many of us find ourselves in — the spouse should be number one.

      • mochazina

        +1

        spouse before kids. cuz ya know, you should have a spouse before kids. oops, stepped on a few toes…

        • Manny

          SHOTS FIRED!!!

      • Justmetheguy

        ” and most of those people shouldnt have been married in the first place.

        in an ideal situation — not the b.s. many of us find ourselves in — the spouse should be number one.”

        1) The ppl that would choose the spouse shouldn’t have had kids in the first place….

        2) How many ninjas you know live in an ideal world? Cause I need to find them and take notes.

    • http://asiyah3.wordpress.com asiyah3

      “A spouse can be replaced.”

      Checkmate.

  • A Woman’s Eyes

    In the swimming to safety scenario, such a decision would cost you your whole family! Why? Because your wife/mother of your child will not let you save her! She will be fighting you to try to get to her baby to save her baby’s life!

    I was with you up until you mucked up your decision making capabilities while swimming from a sinking ship to safety!

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

      “I was with you up until you mucked up your decision making capabilities while swimming from a sinking ship to safety!”

      LOL, i didn’t swim. i was knocked off the boat, and the current carried me to shore

      • A Woman’s Eyes

        lmao

  • A Woman’s Eyes

    And note: Her fighting you to try to get to her baby means the whole family gonna die, especially if you let her child die, she will kill you for not saving the baby. Come on now Champ.

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

      why the whole family gotta die?

      • http://twitter.com/#!/NewYork2VA NY2VA

        Whole fam, B.

        • http://www.writerzblockblog.wordpress.com chriscogmta

          the kid, the dog, everybody dying!!

          But I’m mos def saving the wife. The kids gon leave you as soon as they get the chance. The little hustlers probably already plotting to put you in the cheapest nursing home, furthest away from their state!!