Put Yourselves First

I have been thinking about this story for awhile, trying to remember when I heard it for the first time. Romantically I think maybe it was before I got married and I am sure it was repeated then but really it was much sooner than that. It is one of those family stories that I know was told throughout my life and it became part of my consciousness.

This is advice my mom passed to me but it was advice a priest gave them before their own marriage.

“Put yourselves first.”

“Put yourselves first. You will have jobs, and kids, and money problems. You will have all kinds of things happen that you can’t predict or even imagine but if you two have a strong foundation then your family will be strong and you all will be OK.”

My parents had a beautiful relationship. Just like everyone, it wasn’t perfect but they truly loved each other. I think they took that priest’s words to heart and did make themselves our foundation. Our family was built on them and even when there were struggles, and there were many, they were a team and we managed.

My Dad has been dead for 21 years and I truly believe in many ways my mother misses him about the same today as the day he passed. They were made for each other.

Alex and I didn’t always act on this advice during all the years of our marriage but we really try to now.

When we wrote out our commitment to each other at the start of this Dd journey that was the first thing we wrote, that we were rededicating ourselves to put ourselves first before all else. Before jobs, schedules, other family members, and even our kids. That does not at all mean that we are neglecting any of those things and that they don’t sometimes take precedence in time and effort but what we are committed to is making sure that in the midst of what ever distractions we are faced with that we remain in touch and connected. That we touch base with the other to make sure we are OK and that we acknowledge each other.

It is a real shift in how we interact and takes time and effort. Anything worth doing takes effort though and the benefits for our whole family are so worth it.

Kids come into our lives and take so much of our energy that it often seems that we have no time to spare for our spouses. Before I ever had children I was drawn to the quote that says that we should give our children two things. One is roots and the other is wings.

rootsandwings

My parents gave me that gift. I hope when my kids are my age they feel the same.

In order for the roots to be strong though we have to be strong and so we have returned to the advice of my mother and the priest who she got it from. We are stronger now than we ever have been. We see each other. We pay attention. We make sure our foundation is strong because that is the greatest gift we can give our kids.

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23 Comments

  1. Hi Zoe, this is such a lovely post, it’s what we all should be doing. We try to do this too;
    love
    Jan.xx

    Reply
  2. willie

     /  04/16/2013

    This is fantastic Zoe. Thank you for sharing it with us. So true. We shouldn’t feel like we are neglecting our kids if we put building or maintaining our relationship with our spouse in the forefront . That is a difficult concept to wrap your head around but so valuable to know. After all one day the kids will fly away ( hopefully…lol) and start growing roots of their own, you don’t want to turn to your spouse then and try to find them. 🙂

    Reply
    • Zoe

       /  04/17/2013

      Exactly Willie. We are two years away from an empty nest and we would have been in lots of trouble. I don’t think we could gave made it. And yes hopefully they will use those wings. 🙂

      Reply
  3. Kristy

     /  04/16/2013

    We have 4 children and I am constantly aware that they are watching us, learning from us. And one day they will get married and I hope we will have set an amazing example of marriage for them. Living by this quote is a sure fire way to do that. I hope my children will remember my marriage to their father the way you remember your parents’. It’s beautiful.

    Reply
    • Zoe

       /  04/17/2013

      Thanks Kristy. They did have a special marriage. What my kids were seeing and learning from us was one of the biggest reasons I wanted to fix our relationship. I did not like what we were modeling. I think they now are seeing a much better example thank goodness.

      Reply
  4. mybeahind

     /  04/16/2013

    Thank you Zoe. Your post is a good reminder.
    Bea

    Reply
  5. Sunny Girl

     /  04/16/2013

    Wonderful advice. Thanks for the reminder.

    Reply
  6. Roz

     /  04/16/2013

    Fantastic post Zoe, and such wonderful advice. It is so important to take time for our partner, to connect and maintain a strong foundation through the chaos of children, and life in general.

    You and Alex are setting a great example for your children.

    Hugs
    Roz

    Reply
    • Zoe

       /  04/17/2013

      I sure hope so Roz. It takes work but we are reaping the benefits.

      Reply
  7. This is a wonderful reminder, Zoe. Ward & I try to keep this in mind, too. No, it doesn’t mean that you neglect those things, it just means that you put effort into nourishing your relationship because one day the kids will be gone to their own families, hopefully as confident and successful as we have been, and we will retire, friends will move on and pass on. And if we do not nurture our relationships, we’ll be sitting in the room looking at a stranger.

    Thanks for this lovely message.

    (((hugs)))

    Reply
    • Zoe

       /  04/17/2013

      Yep I think we would have been strangers and that is no way to be. It does take putting in the effort. You and Ward do seem to do this too and very well. It is such a great benefit of ttwd.

      Reply
  8. So very true about all of it Zoe. And I suppose that because a couple creates that “solid foundation” (which we are soooo in favor so here!) that when those children fly away, they are happy to fly back again to visit that nest full of love!
    I imagine it *is* very hard to lose a spouse like your mom did. We all need to “seize the day” and “treasure each moment” don’t we!
    Thanks for such a lovely and uplifting post! 🙂

    Reply
    • Zoe

       /  04/17/2013

      I hope they fly back and visit. That will be nice.

      My Dad died too soon. I think it helps that they did have so many wonderful memories together. That is what we are working on here so we have that too. Sieze the day is exactly it. Take full advantage. Thanks Elysia.

      Reply
  9. It sounded so much more succinct and palatable when you said it than when I tried saying it to my partner just the other day. Wish this had come a few days sooner, but thank you for it, nonetheless.

    Reply
    • Zoe

       /  04/17/2013

      I hope it help now and she understands. I’m so glad you commented and I will go over and check out your blog. Thanks for the reposting.

      Reply
  10. Reblogged this on Wooden Spoon Chronicles and commented:
    I was moved by this great post not only for DD but all relationships.

    Reply
  11. I feel like we’ve done the opposite of this for a long time, and I appreciate this reminder. We just agreed tonight to make a weekly date night. I like the idea of putting us first.

    Reply
    • Zoe

       /  04/17/2013

      Yep, us too. It isn’t always easy but it is worthwhile. A date night sounds fun and like a good idea. Hope you have fun.

      Reply
  12. Katie

     /  04/18/2013

    I loved this Zoe! I recently was visiting with an old friend of ours, a young mother of two, who told me that she ran the show. When the opportunity came up, I told her that if I had to do those years over again, I would have remembered that my husband was there first. I am glad that though our 4 kids are of high school and college age+, they have seen the great changes in our relationship and will have that to consider as they move forward with their own lives. Thanks for sharing Zoe! Hugs!

    ❤ Katie

    Reply
  13. lillie

     /  04/20/2013

    What a lovely post, and it gave me a lot to think about being 2 years away here too.
    hugs
    lillie

    Reply

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