Don’t Let Your Children Come Between You

Don't Let Your ChildrenAre you finding it difficult to connect as a married couple? Are you so busy with your children that you barely have the time to just relax and enjoy being a couple? That’s not unusual at all. That’s all part of the dynamics of raising a family. As a matter of fact:

If a married couple with children has 15 minutes of uninterrupted, non-logistical, non-problem-solving talk every day, I’d put them in the top 5% of all married couples. It’s an extraordinary achievement. (Bill Doherty)

But it’s important to note:

• Marriage is the foundation of the family and the family is the foundation of society. If we strengthen marriage, we strengthen the family. And as we strengthen the children and we strengthen the community. However, if your goal is to help improve the world, marriage is as good a place as any to start. (Diane Sollee)

So here’s an important tip:

Never allow your children’s wants take precedence over your spouse’s needs. (Dr Todd Linaman)

Yes, your children will have pressing needs. But their wants can be sorted out so they aren’t totally invasive for your relationship. However, it’s difficult to juggle all of that out. So, how do you do this?

To help with this problem, the following article is an excerpt from the fun book, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff in Love. (There is also a link to an additional article below this one.)

Children CAN Come Between You

We love our children more than words can say. We want the best for them, and to a large degree, we have dedicated our lives to them. They make our lives complete and there is no question that they are our top priority.

Yet, we love each other too. A ton! And we don’t just say this—we mean it. We’re great pals and best friends. We love to spend time together—to share, laugh, love one another, be silly, or just be quiet. Both of us are partners, for life.

We decided long ago that nothing—not even our children—would ever come between us. Furthermore, we realized, early on, that one of the most important messages we could give our children was to set an example as two parents who truly love and like each other. We’re two people who prioritize one another and look forward to being together —even though we have a family to nurture and care for.

Our Love is Evident

It appears to have worked really well. Both our children know how we feel about each other. They realize, on a deep level, that we have a mutual respect and admiration for each other. We stick up for one another, agree on most fronts, and, most of all, that we love each other. There is no question in either of their minds.

In fact, it’s so clear to both of them that, when Saturday morning rolls around, one of them will usually say something like, “Where are you guys going tonight?” Sometimes they’ll say, “Who gets to baby sit us tonight?” They assume we are going to go somewhere together. They know it’s important to us —just as it’s important for them to spend time with their best friends. To them, it would seem bizarre if we didn’t.

We’re All Different

Every set of parents is obviously different. And they will have different values and degrees of comfort where this issue is concerned. Our goal isn’t to get other parents to prioritize their lives as we have. Yet, for us, we are positive that we are doing the right thing. We do this not only for our relationship, but for our kids as well. Our guess is that their expectations regarding their boyfriends and future husbands will be fairly high. Our hope is that they will eventually seek partners who value not only their children, but their relationships as well.

We know many parents who, even years after having children, rarely go out alone. We have a few who never have. It has always seemed to us that, even if you didn’t like each other very much and if your only goal was to send a good message to your children about relationships —then you’d prioritize your relationships. Do this at the very least once in a while. Otherwise, it would seem, they would grow up believing a “normal” relationship neither requires nor deserves any time or effort. The relationship would be seen as secondary, if not dispensable.

Prioritize Time with Children

It’s been said millions of times before —but worth repeating one more time. If you want a loving relationship, you must prioritize it and treat it as important. The truth is, you vote with your actions. You can say, “My marriage is really important.” But your actions may be saying something entirely different. You may virtually never spend time alone with your spouse, or go out alone with her. Hardly the way you would behave if your goal was to appear loving.

After all, you spend time with the kids and as a family. You also spend time at work, doing chores, shopping for “stuff,” and in front of the television. Why not with spend time with your so-called loved one? Is that what you would hope for with your child. Would you want him or her to grow up and never spend time alone with their spouse, once they had children?

Send the Message That Your Relationship Matters

Finally, when you spend time together, even though you have children, you send a powerful message to one another that each of you matters, so does your relationship. It’s harder to sweat the small stuff with your [marriage] partner when you both know that you are important to the other. So, however you do it, and to whatever degree, consider the importance of putting your relationship first. If you do, everyone wins.

This article comes from the book, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff in Love, written by Richard Carlson, Ph.D. and Kristine Carlson, published by Hyperion. This is a good little book. And although it isn’t a Christian book we’ve found it to be very enjoyable and clean with a lot of great information.

– ALSO –

Kathleen Kohler and her husband know all too well how a “child” who is leading a troubled life can turn your life and your marriage upside down. Please click onto the article below to read what Kathleen learned that hopefully will help you in your situation:


If you have additional tips to help others, please “Join the Discussion” by adding your comments below.

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38 responses to “Don’t Let Your Children Come Between You

  1. While step grand dad is playing in her hair & Rubbing MY GRAND DAUGHTERS back & feet I am on the other side of the bed alone. This by the way is also happening when I’m not at home!!!!! I have said on MANY occasions THIS IS NOT APPRECIATED! His defense is almost creepy

    We have taken her in our home because she said she was mistreated by her Father, now finding out it was all lies trying to convince my husband this 14 year old girl (built like Beyonce) needs professional help! Our marriage is so broken I can’t even look or deal with either of them. He is convinced that I am the problem by not allowing this madness to go on even if I have to leave & give her back! That sent him through the roof, when I came home from an emergency family trip I came home to a house I felt like I was intruding

    Please help me figure out what am I dealing with. I guess I already know what to do; I just need somebody else to say it, Dallas

  2. I am lost on what more I can do. My husband and I have been married less than a year. We have been together for 5 years. In the beginning none of our children were around. Two of his childten were grown at the time. A couple of years ago his third child suddenly wants to stay a week at a time with us, and suddenly moves in. He was not around much working two jobs and going to school, so everything was put on me. All of the bills I paid went up, I was driving her 40 minutes one way to school, picking her up driving everywhere, with no assistance from him. It was more like he didn’t feel he should be there in any way for his kid. Her attitude and behavior was bad. And it only got worse.

    We had been looking to purchase our first home long before she came to stay with us, but suddenly she had the idea that we were buying the home for her, not for the two of us. Within a year and a half, problems got so bad I was ready to call off our 6 month engagement, move out and start over. Before I could do that, he kicked her out. It wasn’t because of the way she treated me, the breaking point was how she treated his parents. She stopped speaking to us completely. A few months later she contacted him because she wanted something, but once she got it, he didn’t hear from her again for months.

    Suddenly he feels guilty for not doing anything for her birthday and we are driving hours away to take her somewhere. She began hanging all over him like they were a couple, which just made me mad. I told him it wasn’t normal or ok to do. She even tried to push me away from him so she could get close. He realized it and moved away from her. She began contacting him again only when she wanted something and most of the time, he would do whatever it was. It has gotten to the point now that he feels bad for kicking her out, so he says she moved out. He also makes it a point to reschedule anything we are supposed to do so he is available to her. I have tried going to marriage counseling but he refused to admit anything. Now I have told him he needs to make our marriage a priority. He says I just pick on his daughter. She texts him almost daily to drive her to work because she doesn’t want to take the bus. If she texts him late at night, he will get up and be tired at work the next day.

    We have actually started getting intimate and he has stopped to take her messages and stated he has to pick her up so pushed me away. I asked him this week to tell me what day next week he will set aside for date night, just me and him no matter what. He had to find out when she doesn’t work to decide! Now he won’t make a doctor’s appointment until he knows when she works either. We could lose health benefits if he doesn’t go! He has medical issues that have to be monitored so at this point, he is throwing everything aside for one selfish person. I am seriously considering telling him he needs to move out until he decides what he wants with our marriage. We don’t have intimacy very often, like once a month. He disappeared two days in a row instead of going out with me for his birthday. And he wont tell me where he was.

    1. I know what you are going through. My husband does the same thing for his 19 year old daughter. It’s almost like they have a relationship or marriage and we don’t. She comes over, boobs hanging out, shorts up to her butt, and he just stares at her like he wants her. He gets so mad, enables her lies, and blames me. It’s not normal.

  3. My husband’s adult children beat me up and I was asked not to file charges. They also do very strange things if allowed in our home to make me think I’m crazy, but my husband makes excuses for them. I have had repeated conversations with husband but falls on deaf ears.

  4. My husband and I have been separated and living apart for 4 months. My daughter and I moved out because he started drinking a lot and was being verbally abusive to both of us. We are now wanting to work on our marriage but my daughter refuses to even try. She is thirteen and I understand how she feels and she’s hurt but I still love him very much and don’t want to give up on my marriage. CONFUSED

    1. Kristi, you married your husband, not your daughter. I can well appreciate it that your daughter is hurt. And when a girl has been hurt, like she has, it goes down deep. I wish your husband would have realized that before he did what he did. These type of things write on the slate of who they are. But very soon, your daughter is going to go off and find someone else, and you will be without your husband. She will be with she wants to be with, leaving you without your husband.

      You really need to find a marriage-friendly counselor –one who is wise to these types of issues. If you don’t know one, then I recommend that you contact the ministry of Focus on the Family. They have counselors on staff (very, very good ones) and will guide you to the help you need to rebuild your marriage AND your family. You can go to their web site at You will find their contact info there. I hope you will… for ALL of your sakes. This is indeed a very difficult situation to do without the wisdom of a trained counselor who is marriage friendly (and believe me… there are a whole lot of counselors who claim to help with marriage situations, who only make marriages worse… so make sure your counselor is trained to help your marriage AND your family). I pray you will find the right one and pray for you and your daughter and your marriage.

  5. Stepchildren will never accept stepmoms even if they pretend to. They always want to be number one in their fathers life more than you. What you should do as a stepmom always do good, be the one who buys her things she needs and give her pocket money. Above all that you will be shocked that she doesn’t love you. Even if her mother died they don’t want their dad to take another wife; on top of all that try to do good by her. Eventually your husband will realise that they are the one with a problem. If they are grown up its best to let them stay on their own cause no matter how hard you try they will never accept you, especially girls. They will try everything to come between you two. In all don’t forget to pray to God and make sure that you always do good things for them.

  6. I have a 19 year old daughter that tried to commit suicide and is now in therapy. She has moved back in with myself and her stepfather, and my husband is so angry she is back and has mentioned leaving. Because of the past and how she has attacked him. He won’t go to family therapy. But I won’t turn my back on my daughter now. She needs the help. My husband and I love each other very much and it shows. But this is hurting so bad. What to do?

    1. it looks like your husband had no say in whether or not she should move back in? So your marriage is already in trouble if you ask me. It’s up to you to decide what’s most important to you, but I would take his threat seriously. Your daughter is 19, her problems may be solved quickly (hopefully) or they take many many years. I suggest you would be stronger going through that if you had his support.

      My partners son is 13 and I am sick to death of being reminded that I am second place. ‘Our’ son knows exactly how to work his mum’s love and gets everything he wants. It has come between us and we have very little left that is holding us together. If it is the same when he is 19 I will find it even harder to stay, and can only imagine our relationship ending. Good luck.

  7. My adult daughter got into criminal trouble and we bailed her out. Her and her two children came to live with us. My daughter started having seizures one night. My husband found her unconscious on the floor. I saw a new law that would reduce a felony to a lessor charge so I applied for it on her behalf. If you have a felony it’s hard to get a good job. I was trying to help her get it reduced so she could get insurance to help take care of her kids.

    She thought I was trying to put her in jail and she told everyone that, including her dad. All of them turned against me including my husband. She lived in our house for two years and refused to let her kids talk to me. Two months ago my husband moved them out then he moved out. He filed for divorce and I have not heard from any of them. I tried to tell them I was only trying to help her. The papers said resentencing to a lesser charge but her court file just said resentencing. I have been with my husband for over thirty years they were my life I have no one.

  8. I have been married to my husband for 18 years. He is 82 and I am 59. He has daughters who are almost my age; both have college degrees and had every advantage growing up. We had all gotten along well until the older daughter’s husband of 20 years divorced her. This daughter is about 18 months younger than I am. This was 6 years ago; she has constantly called her Dad with her problems. We paid for her divorce, 10,000.00 out of money put up for retirement.

    She calls her Dad for every little thing, Daddy I don’t feel well, my son is acting up, my car needs a battery, etc. She will not or is not capable of taking care of herself. She is working in a dead end job for 12.00 an hour and will lose the child support she has gotten in August because the son will be 19. My husband is constantly sending her money, comforting her on the phone. It’s almost as if he is HER husband not mine.

    I have expressed to my husband that I am against his doling out cash constantly. He bought a lawnmower, a CUB Cadet riding mower, so the son could cut the grass. Well, she can’t get him to cut it. By the way her son was allowed to quit High School at 16 and hasn’t had a job or gotten his GED. He does nothing to help his mother and lies idle in the bed most of the day while she is working.

    I can’t stand much more, I feel discounted and of no value to my husband because he won’t listen to me or even acknowledge my feelings. When I ask him why he keeps writing checks he says, “She’s my child.” What should I do? I can’t tolerate his daughter’s lifestyle. She blames her son for the way he is and so does my husband. It isn’t the boy’s fault; it is his parents who are at fault. He has even said we would pay her car payment when her child support ends in August!!!

    I work everyday and have worked very hard to get and keep the job I have. Step daughter won’t try to get a better job with benefits. I believe this is due to the fact that she thinks her Dad is leaving her a great deal of money when he dies. I need advice; I’m at my wits end. If it doesn’t get much better I will leave him and his out of control family.

  9. I’ve been married for over 40 years. My single 34 year old has had to move back home and it’s tearing my marriage apart.

    1. I believe it; sorry to hear this. We as parents work, provide, and look forward to our empty nest years. We get into our own routines, have our own food, relax on our own couch, watch our own TV shows. I live out of town from my relatives. My very demanding, her way only, self centered, high maintenance sister in law came to visit. My nerves were shot the 1st night. My son-in-law was just here, all he does is lay on the couch while the rest of us sit 3 on the love seat and on the floor. That gets on my nerves.

      1. You NEED TO GIVE HIM/HER A DEADLINE to be self supportive and out. Explain that this your time of life and it is putting a huge strain on your marriage. Also 34 is too old to be living back home.

      2. Give him/her a little money, but not much. As long as the refrigerator has food they will stay.

      3. Give him/her responsibilities, a lot of them. Explain that they are a 34 year old adult not 13 YO and you expect these to be done.

      4. Make them pay rent, power bill, water bill, satellite dish, wifi bill. Be willing to turn these off if they don’t pay.

      5. But, this is your child; you don’t want them to suffer or live in a crap hole. Craigslist has people looking for roommates all the time in nice areas.

  10. My husband has 3 adult children, 6 grandchildren and 6 great grandchildren. We’ve been married 1 1/2 years. Neither of his daughters wanted him to get married. One of them has never met me and the other one refuses to acknowledge me as his wife. The son is okay toward me but his son refuses to refer to me as grandma because he said, “I’m not their blood”. I’m tired of getting treated so poorly by them. My husband won’t intercede on my behalf either. I’m at my wits end.

    1. Phyllis, I’m so sorry for this turmoil. This is SO difficult, and I am sad for you. Unfortunately, it is usually the step children that cause the break up of remarriage situations. But that doesn’t have to be so with yours. I’m sad for you that so far your husband has not helped to establish you as his loving wife, and let his children know that they cannot be disrespectful towards you. Hopefully, you can eventually help him to see that this puts your marriage in a very bad place.

      I don’t know the background to all that is going on. I don’t know if you and their mother are at odds with each other. If so, that will definitely cause a crack in the foundation of your marriage. But whatever the relationship there… I encourage you to try to approach all of this as humbly as you can. A prideful attitude can definitely fan the flames. Please check your spirit on all of this.

      Also, I encourage you not to try to slide their relationship with their mother & grandmother off to the side. Instead, honor it (even if you don’t like her); that’s their mom, and if you try to take her place in any way, you can be causing more problems. Let them know that you aren’t trying to be their mother or grandmother… you just want to have a peaceful relationship with them. After all, you all love the same man–their father. That gives you some commonality right from the start. I’ve seen other step moms (who have built good relationships with their husband’s children) take a very quiet stance– where they make it their mission to patiently, and continually find little ways to bless those who are at first opposed to them coming into their family. Eventually, they are won over by kindness and humility.

      This one son is right… you aren’t his blood grandma. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t have a good relationship. My husband’s dad remarried after Steve’s mom died. Dottie never tried to take the position of a mother or grandmother. She just came in friendly, and was continually welcoming. Our sons cared for her very much. They never called her grandma either. They called her by her name. But the relationship grew to be very loving.

      The question to continually ask yourself is, “What would Jesus do?” How would He have you approach each situation? Read 1 Peter 3:8-12. We’re told in those scriptures to NOT revile when we are reviled, but bless instead, “…for to this you were CALLED that you may obtain a blessing.” Our first instinct is to get all upset, and sometimes fight back feeling entitled to do so. I’m not saying you are doing this… but it has to be a temptation. However, all that would do is amp up the negative feelings and actions on each side. I’ve never seen this lead to good.

      Instead, look to the Lord for guidance on this. And look at everything you do for them as a gift you are giving to the Lord. It helps… trust me. I’ve been there with a stepmom where SHE even called herself our “evil stepmother.” I told her she didn’t have to be this way. We wanted to love her. But as she said, “That’s just the way I am.” So from that point on, I/we worked to be as kind to her as it was possible viewing each kindness “as unto the Lord” even when she was unkind to us. That truly helped us. I hope that helps you. May God bless you all the more as you extend kindness to those who are not kind to you.

  11. My husband’s ex wife’s grandson is destroying our marriage. My husband & his ex didn’t have children and she doesn’t want him around her grandson but he won’t listen. Her grandson is 25 and he thinks that because he’s always been in his life that he can continue to take him on vacations, etc. He tells me that I need to except this or leave!!!

  12. The relationship between the children and parents is of temporary nature. Since you are rising someone else’s spouse in your house. The only permanent relation is between husband and wife. Ensure to get closer to your spouse as the years pass since only the two of you will remain after everyone else left.