Madame on the Street: Who Comes First, Your Spouse or Your Children?

February 28, 2012 ‐ By

When it comes to the people you love the most in the world it can be hard to choose who’s going to get your attention, when and how much of it. We took to the streets of New York to pose this tricky question to some passers by, asking them in a marriage who comes first your spouse or your children. We made the stakes even higher by asking who would come first in a life or death situation. See what these people had to say in the video above.

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  • Logic76

    I think many of you are missing the point so I’m just going to copy and paste Sweett’s response because quite frankly it was pefect:

    “But I guess what I mean to point out is BALANCE. That’s the key. Of course your child’s well-being is in your hands and your are responsible for providing their needs, but everything about them shouldn’t ALWAYS come first. I can say it in so many words, but basically…
    Child’s Needs > Spouse’s Needs > Child’s Wants
    Your child needs should come first because they depend on you for everything. (e.g. your spouse is capable of feeding and taking care of himself, while your child can’t necessarily do that.)Your spouse’s needs should before your child’s wants.(e.g. your child WANTS to sleep in the bed with you two every night, but your spouse NEEDS to have a good night’s rest for the next day, or your child would like for you to stay home with them every single night, but you haven’t been on a date with your spouse in ages.)”

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  • cubanflowers

    I LOVE my husband but while my children are under 18 ain’t NOBODY but GOD coming before them! 

    who the he…lll is to say that my husband will be with me until death do us part???

     he can get up and leave as quickly as the breeze blows and then who do i have???

     The KIDS I carried for  37 weeks, 40 weeks  and 35 weeks  and spent HOURS in pain getting their a.sssess out of my womb that’s who! 

    People need to remember something.. the way you treat your children while they are young is the same way they will treat you when your a.sss is old!…

    be blessed… 

  • Pmldjhn

    The spouse comes first because if there was no mother or father, what would happen to the children?  Who would care for them? 

  • miche

    first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby and a baby carriage!!!…lol…no seriously, truer words never been spoken…people today don’t understand that a couple should marry and become one…then they together can give the children what they need.

  • coco1love

    While they are still dependents, then I say the children.

  • Blackmanmarried

    Why do the readers sometimes take everything literally.  Asking if your spouse should come before your children, doesn’t mean literally abandon/neglect your children because of your spouse.  I am extremely happy as a black man, that there are black women on here saying that, because a lot of women don’t choose a spouse (child’s father, baby daddy) wisely, thats why they feel like their kids should come first & take it so literally.  If you are in a marriage/family unit, you’d understand that while balancing the child’s needs is important, its a job for both parents acting as one & NOT a one person job.  Just because my wife’s need are most important to me right now, doesn’t mean my child’s diapers doesn’t get changed.  Its ok for me to be late picking up my son from daycare, because my wife has an emergency, and vice versa.  Doesn’t mean, because one of them gets more of my attention right this minute means I am not thinking or care for the other one.  Its ok for my wife and i to go out, as long as someone is watching our child, even if she has a fever, as long as if it gets worse we can be reached.  

  • guest

    When you look at the Bible as a whole, you will find that the order of priority is this:

    1. God – God comes first before all else. We cannot be whole human beings without Him

    2. Spouse – Your spouse comes second only to God, as you are one flesh and each half of the whole. However, neither can be whole without God.

    3. Children – Your children come third. They are a big part of your family, and are the fruit of your marriage. Nothing else comes before your children, except your spouse and God.

    4. Everything else – Everything else, including school and your job take a back seat to your family and God.

    I’m reading all these comments but no one know’s the true meaning of what family is suppose to be like. It was already set in place for us by God and that’s what is lacking in the family unit. Your spouse is first because you and him are one and work as a unit. People are confusing what the meaning of coming first really means. Of coarse you have to take care of your kids because the are innocent and they cant do for themselves right away, but to neglect your marriage just because you have kids is stupid and selfish. Once your child leaves the bossom of their family there life begins and your life as there parent ends. We are here to guide our children through life until adulthood. It all comes down it if the family life is stable then the kids will be fine and if they arent fine it doesnt have anything to do with the parent putting the spouse first. Some kids can have good lives and still turn out messed up and some kids have bad lives and turn out great.

  • Guest

    Parents should always put their children first. I can’t believe that’s even a debate. Especially when it comes to protecting their lives.

    • Guest

       Actually, I meant the children should comes first when it comes to protecting them. As long as the marriage is a healthy relationship, I believe parents have to find a balance between each other and their children.

  • An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure

  • Caroneisha

    Also another thing: Okay say you put your spouse first, your marriage was to best right, so on and what have you. Yea when they get older your kids will leave, and all that good stuff. But say your spoue leaves first (died or just leaves) then what? You’ve spent all of this time putting the spouse before the kids, what do you have to say then? How are things going to work then?

    • PuddenPop27

      yeah your spouse came first but you and your spouse took care of the kids together. So your kids will still be there for you. That is the part you all are not getting. No good parent is going to just neglect their child if so that a totally different subject. We are just talking about keeping the family unit strong. If we look at it as a pyramid, the parents are at the base on the same level. This level must remain strong in some sort of way to hold up the next level of the pyramid which are the kids. The family starts with a man and women, not women and child. This question is really asking to keep a family strong who should come first? 

  • Caroneisha

    I totally disagree,because that’s not always true. There are plenty of families where the marraige was great but the children didn’t ” falling into place.” Instead they felt neglected and unwanted because of all the attention the parents but on the marriage instead of them. So they ventrued outside the family to find that love and support they needed. And eventually wind up in somebodies jail or worst. Then parents who feel just as you do wake up to a child they don’t even know,wondering where did they go wrong. After all this happens then they regret the decisions they made, and wish for a repeat.

    • I always, ALWAYS knew that I was second place in my mother’s life. Very young when I began to search for love and validation on the outside.

      • Mistim

        maxine that is so sad that your mom did that to you and i hate to say it but there are many children out there who are troubled by the same thing.and some children that their parents think my children can do no wrong.children need to feel balance.just remember that you are a gift from God.a mothers love is suppose to be unconditional,she is the one missing out.a spouse should come first but not at the expense of neglecting the children.

  • Lyndon

    Spouse first?!?! Im reluctant to say answer like this is rooted in narcissism, but I can’t see any other explanation. There’s no way in hell two grown folk should not understand that the needs of helpless beings which they WILLINGLY created should not come before theirs. This actually explains why so many of our children grow up unvalidated and searching outwardly for approval. Mommy was too busy chasin daddy…

    Two responsible parents know very well nurturing the lives of their children come before their own desires. If a woman has kids for a man who can’t understand this fact and continues to cater to his faulty perspective probably came second in their own upbringing and vice versa.

    I wish a woman would expect me to put her before my children. Conversely, I’d feel bad for a woman who’d allow my needs to come before her children. Stinks of desperation and low self worth. Call it judgemental, but this is simply an assessment. The stakes are too high to pacify

    • PuddenPop27

      I think many of you are taking the question a little bit too far. It is not asking you whether or not you should fix your husband something to eat and not your child, or get your husband clothes prepared for the next day and not your child. As parent certain things are obvious that we have to do for our offspring’s, we don’t have to discuss them. This is about who do you go the extra mile to keep a happy health relationship with, your spouse. If the kids see their parents in a happy relationship they will most likely learn how to forge good relationships themselves. Not only that but they will be happy kids. This does not mean you will be ignoring your child because there should be enough time for family as well as spouse. And I hate that you women are talking about how that man might not be there. If you choose the right guy and work through hard times like reasonable adults them you don’t have to worry about such things. It’s seems like some of yall are setting yourself up for failure when it comes to staying married to your child’s father. And this is coming from a young women who never had a father and a drug addict mom who died when I was ten, and no good male role models in my life. See the thing is your spouse comes first and then you and your spouse together are responsible for the child. How can y’all take care of the child when y’all aren’t completely one. You have to be on the same page when it comes to raising kids. You can give a child everything they could ever want but if they see something is not right between their parents they notice it (even at young ages)and it affects them in a negative way. You might not even see the damage but trust and believe children pay attention to everything and absorb like a sponge. Family people, we simple need more families. I just challenge those women who say that the man might not stay, to just try as hard as you can with your current relationship, or the next one (of course you have to make sure you don’t have a knucklehead to begin with) and you will see that man won’t go anywhere and he should be treating you the same way too. And like the lady said It does say it in the Good Book. 

      • Lailani81

        Thank you!Well said.Spouses should come first.If you don’t understand the reasoning or the true context of the meaning,you don’t need children or a spouse.

  • Aisha

    The easier way to ask this question so people really think about their answers will be: if you had to die so that one person will live, would you rather your husband or your child? So now, I’m sure the ladies will want the child to live. The love for your child is pure and the love for your husband is a little selfish. You don’t want to die so he lives and moves on to another woman 

  • Sexyniq28

    I don’t have kids nor am I married but my child would come first before anybody except for God!

  • i’m not selfish just had my share of experience, with how man and gereally a man can be. A man tell you anything, HE wont let you in on everything.

  • Wish to have but don’t have now, who come first in relationship husband or kids?
    I say the kids, its their season and time til they reach the age to know how to survive. I’m alone so i surely say meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee, cause a man can up and leave anytime and care less about you or a child. Its how the time R now especially MEN.

  • ITango

    I swear the guy at 1:46 is related to Jay Z. that nose and those lips… seriously, they look related. On another note, if your children are young (preteens), I say the kids come first. As they start getting older, you spend more and more time with your spouse. If still have to make time and do date nights with your spouse when the kids are younger but certainly, young children need all the attention, mentoring and guidance possible in these days… 

  • Zeniahahmari

    My daughter will always come first, but second to Christ and only him. She was a gift I thought I could never have and she is here now and I thank God for her everyday. The love from your child is unconditional and will never fade. The love from a man will come and go.

    • guest

      Ain’t that the truth!

  • Guest

    My kids come first.  I don’t feel guilty about that and if my husband had a problem with it…oh well. 

  • MissK

    It’s an interesting argument – I am neither spouse nor mother, but I imagine it is a primal instinct to want your offspring to survive/come first.  Then again, we are human and capable of love and (supposedly) monogamy.   

  • Shalai427

    My husband and I agree that the kids come first for me and he is right behind them. Our children are our first priority in my house…we had our time and once we decided to bring kids into the picture we decided our goal is to make sure they are happy first and their happiness gives us more reason to celebrate our happiness

  • Chacha

    But I can see how a woman would feel uncomfortable if her husband is not the father of her child. NOT CONDEMNING ANYONE because I’m just as guilty, but this is why the bible says to wait to have sex until marriage. thus this problem of choosing an “outside” man over your children wouldn’t be an issue. And if ppl actually stuck together for better or worse the thought wouldn’t be “men come & go”.

  • Helado31

    If you don’t want your children to come first then don’t have them. They don’t ask to be born. 

  • Chacha

    I must agree with you guys, spouse first! As someone stated, if you have a good marriage your children will be well taken care of. No one said putting your spouse first means forgetting your children. When your children leave the home what do you and your spouse have if they were the only thing holding you together? The make of the family is setup to take care of spouse first, you are SUPPOSED to spend your life with them, children are SUPPOSED to leave you.

  • I think that this is a gender question, as well.  It’s the same way that if a woman is having a difficult pregnancy, and there’s an option to save either her or the baby, for the most part, men will tell the doctor to save their wives/girlfriends, while women will usually choose the baby over themselves. 

  • LisaLuvless

    Funny, my friend and I were having this discussion the other day. I definitely think your spouse comes first.

  • Your spouse is supposed to come first. I’ve seen couple spend so much time in their kids that by the time they grow up and leave the house, there is nothing to talk about, it’s like two strangers in the home. Mates can become jealous due to lack of attention. A child needs to see a healthy relationship on how men should treat a woman and how a woman should treat her man. That’s why they come first. When you make decisions you are supposed to consult your mate not your child. That’s not to say your child isn’t important or that he is neglected by default because their not. When a man and a woman get married they are a family, children are just the extension of that family.  I’ve seen mothers so attached to their kids that when the child grows up and gets married the mother is still interfering with their life. That’s not how things are supposed to be. 

  • SweetT

    It’s actually a strong belief of mine that the “children first” mentality is the reason for many divorces. I personally know women (and yes this is typically a woman’s problem) who are so involved/obsessed with their children that their marriage is always coming second. You have to nurture both relationships in a balanced way. If you practically clear your schedule for your child’s practices, events, activities, etc., but can’t recall the last time you and your spouse went on a date or had meaningful conversation that wasn’t about the kids… Honestly, what do you think you’re allowing to happen to your marriage?

    • REGAL

      I’m sorry but as a mother, my child will always come first because at the end of the day, while relationships, marriages are not guaranteed, my child is. A good man knows that the children will always come first to a good mother and he should be patient and allow the woman to make time for him around her kids’. Blaming failing marriages on children is wrong…there are marriages that fail without a child involved…way too many of them. Some fail because of lack of children….as a matter of fact, children seem to strengthen good marriages. When children are involved, couples always work around their children and work with their children….it’s called being a family. Parents normally spend quiet time together in the evening when the children are asleep…go on a date, a candle lit dinner or just quiet time on a couch. The rest of the time is family time with the children coming first. If a couple wishes to put each other first, then they should wait longer before having children because like it or not, once children are born into a family, everything changes….it becomes about them until they grow up and leave home. This is exactly the natural way to go about things in a family with children. They come first and the rest follows including careers, relationships etc

      • SweetT

        I can respect your opinion, but I never said ALL failing marriages; I said many. I also didn’t say it’s directly the child’s fault, but it is partly to blame on a spouse who doesn’t recognize the need to prioritize their marriage properly. That cause distance that could maybe lead to a divorce. Or when all your children finally leave you, as they eventually will, you might be left with an empty marriage and realize that, in fact, the kids were the only thing left holding you together, but now they’re gone.

        But I guess what I mean to point out is BALANCE. That’s the key. Of course your child’s well-being is in your hands and your are responsible for providing their needs, but everything about them shouldn’t ALWAYS come first. I can say it in so many words, but basically…

        Child’s Needs > Spouse’s Needs > Child’s Wants

        Your child needs should come first because they depend on you for everything.
        (e.g. your spouse is capable of feeding and taking care of himself, while your child can’t necessarily do that.)
        Your spouse’s needs should before your child’s wants.
        (e.g. your child WANTS to sleep in the bed with you two every night, but your spouse NEEDS to have a good night’s rest for the next day, or your child would like for you to stay home with them every single night, but you haven’t been on a date with your spouse in ages.)

        You just have to use good judgment. I feel like there’s a lot a good that can come from SOMETIMES putting your spouse first. It’s better for your marriage to stay strong. It’s better for your children to help them learn a little independence. It’s also better for your children to witness and understand a strong, loving relationship. And that’s where the idea of balance comes in, so that no one feels like they’re being deprived.

        • Papillonsarah

          “Child’s Needs > Spouse’s Needs > Child’s Wants”

          We could end this conversation with this comment right here, because it is rational and makes perfect sense. Great advice.

        • PuddenPop27

          Preach!!! I too respect the opinions of others and we are not saying that if you do it this way your child will become most successful, and perfect. We are just saying this gives them a fight chance. They will see mommy and daddy in a happy healthy relationship and mommy and daddy shares their love with us. we have to keep the base strong people. A good man should not have to be patient and wait for her to make time for him around the kids. A good man is right there with you when you are spending time with those kids. That where things get twisted. That man should not become second to the kids because he is involved in every aspect of that kids life. You guys are just picking the wrong guys. There are some good men out here.  

          • Richardgr53

            I can totally agree with this thought that they will see mammy and daddy happy. In the same turn they will see that mommy and daddy are not happy and fuss so much. Kids emulate what they see and do accordingly. Some men and woman forget or just do not think of the other and figure that it’s ok they aren’t going anywhere. We as people tend to place the other spouse on the shelf and forget to pull them out for involvement.  

      • Honi

         @REGAL, I disagree when you say your child is guaranteed. We’ve all see situations where the child wants to be emancipated, or doesn’t want anything to do with a parent, or worse, kills their parent. In all that, I say the primary relationship between mother and father is the most important.

      • Marceline

        I agree with Regal. My husband even will say “Just worry about them, I can wait” They are younger, 2 and 8. I think once the kids become more self sufficient, I will have time to devote to my husband, and me.

    • Brother to the Night

      You are on point with your analysis.

  • Nani

    I believe your spouse comes first. Have a great marriage and your children will fall into place.

    • TeeBabe

      I totally agree. The spouse comes first, as a strong relationship will give your children a stronger sense of stability and self perspective. In essence, they will become strong, capable, productive members of society. 

      • Sol Rothstein

        A childs needs come first, but a childs wants come last. Spouses should never choose between Children or Spouse, that is inhuman to think like that. DO NOT CHOOSE remove the choice.