Spouse, Parents…or Kids: Who Should Rank “First?”
While teasing a few Patriots fans on Facebook yesterday (Even though it may beĂ‚Â blasphemousĂ‚Â 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),Ă‚Â 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: WhoĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s the No. 1 Woman in a ManĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s Life?”Ă‚Â — 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:Ă‚Â 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.
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.”Ă‚Â Basically, if your spouse doesn’tĂ‚Â supersedeĂ‚Â 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”
I think that the best families operate through aĂ‚Â hierarchicalĂ‚Â 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 collectiveĂ‚Â parentalĂ‚Â 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 currentĂ‚Â miraculouslyĂ‚Â 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)Ă‚Â rationaleĂ‚Â 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!!!Ă‚Âą)Ă‚Â from now, someĂ‚Â precociousĂ‚Â 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.”
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.”Ă‚Â
Ă‚ÂąKnocking on wood
—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)