Love is one of those indescribable intangibles. It's more than a feeling, but an instinct. A connection with someone outside of yourself that can transcend time and space. A devotion and faith in the idea that your emotions are intrinsically intertwined with someone else's emotions and feelings. Love is not always about specific relationships, but rather about connections. Love is complex. Too complex to break down and compare.
How can you say that it's more important to love and nurture one person over another? How can you say that there is a right way and a wrong way to love the people in our lives? The love and devotion we may feel for our partner is on a completely different plane than the love and devotion we may feel for our children or parents or even siblings. It's an unfair comparison because for the most part, we choose our partners. We don't usually get to choose our other relatives, including our children.
I read the article "How American Parenting is Killing The American Marriage" and found myself nodding in agreement with much of what was written. Sometimes being wrapped up with our children can have a detrimental impact on other relationships. It can also have a detrimental impact on our own growth. But, there isn't a formula or solution to this imbalance because there isn't a wrong way to love. Instead, we need to have self-awareness.
Our children are only young for a short amount of time, so I understand wanting to make them your focus. I understand getting wrapped up in their interests and activities. Perhaps you want to give them what you didn't have. Perhaps you want to keep up with your neighbors or your friends on Facebook. You want to take them to every fair, orchard, museum and petting zoo. You want them to be in scouts, baseball, basketball, swimming, gymnastics and martial arts. You want to attend every school-sponsored fundraiser and eat at your local family restaurant to raise funds for your favorite extra-curricular activity.
I have to ask: Why we are doing these things? Does this make you a better parent? Does this prove how much you love your children? Are your children AND your marriage better off for choosing to do these things? And if we are so wrapped up in these "extras," when do we have time for ourselves or our partners? When is it OK to say, "No."? Is it ever OK to just stay in your PJs all day and spend time doing nothing together as a family? How about taking a sick day and spending the day by yourself without kids or spouses? Or, how about taking a trip WITHOUT the kids... as a couple?
Sometimes, we have to take a step back and decide if the balance we are striking is actually balanced. We have to be self-aware.
All relationships need work. You cannot take anyone in your life for granted, because love is not always enough. I think perhaps this is the point of the article. In my opinion, it's not over parenting that is hurting our marriages (although I can see how this IS a factor). It's forgetting to tend to all the love we are blessed to experience in our life. The love of our friends, the love of our siblings, the love of our parents, the love of our children, the love of yourself and of course the love of the partner you chose. The person you decided to travel this journey with. The person you hopefully will still choose to be with beyond babyhood, childhood, and the teen years.
Are you striking a balance with the loves of your life? Please leave me a comment and weigh in to this discussion.
Nicole Dash is a writer, blogger, and business owner who lives outside Washington DC with her husband and four children. Nicole writes about life, family and finding herself amid the chaos on her heartfelt blog Tiny Steps Mommy. Please subscribe to her blog to join her in this journey.
This post originally appeared on Tiny Steps Mommy.