How Husband Feels When Wife Puts Children Ahead of Him

wife puts children ahead of husband - Adobe StockHow does it make a man feel when his wife puts their children ahead of him? We posed that question to a group of men. Their most common answers are listed below:

1. Insignificant and disrespected

Most replied that they felt a deep lack of respect from not only their wives, but from their children. “Respect is important to a man, and he doesn’t feel that when the children consistently come first,” said one man.

2. Unloved

Most men, unlike most women, associate love with actions instead of with feelings. When a woman places her children above her husband, her actions say to him that she loves the children more than she loves him. Though not as vocal about it as women, men desire to be deeply loved by their wives. It is difficult for a man to see his wife cherish the children, but treat him in a cool or casual manner.

3. Lonely

One of the man’s greatest needs is companionship, and he usually expects to find this in his relationship with his wife. “As my wife pours more and more of her life into being a mother, she pours less and less of it into being my wife,” said one man. “The friend I once had in my wife is now a friend to our children, but a stranger to me.” The lonelier a man becomes, the more vulnerable he is to outside temptation. Is your husband lonely because of the time you spend with your children? Are you in any way making him more vulnerable to the attentions of other women?

4. Unappreciated

Men appreciate being appreciated! Many men feel that their wives show greater appreciation to their children than they do to them. “If our daughter goes to a friend’s for the night, my wife misses her terribly,” said one husband. “When she comes home the next morning, my wife is ecstatic to see her and acts as if she’s been gone forever. I can be gone for days on a business trip, and my wife acts like I never left. Sometimes she even seems to resent my return home.” Does your husband know how important he is to you and how much you value him? Are you an appreciative wife?

5. Resentful and Angry

Though not a majority, some men stated that when their wives put their children first, they felt a sense of resentment and anger; some felt this way toward their children, others toward their wives. “My fifteen-year-old son walks through the door and my wife immediately asks abut his day or rubs his back if he’s tired. She pampers him constantly. I find myself resenting him, even though I know it isn’t his fault.” Is your husband frustrated or even jealous of your relationship with your children? Could it be that he feels left out or overlooked?


Maybe you’re sensing that you need a major overhaul in this area, or perhaps just some fine-tuning. Regardless, here are some ideas to consider:

1. Think positive thoughts.

For every positive thought you have of your children, think of two for your husband. Begin noticing the many things he does. Perhaps he sees to it that the house is locked up every night or helps you replace light bulbs. Men enjoy praise!

2. Give him the benefit of the doubt.

Often this comes easily with our children, but is more difficult with our husbands. Grant him the same gracious generosity that you so readily give your kids.

3. Be spontaneous.

Surprise him once a week with a random act of kindness. One woman recently discovered that her husband liked a slushy drink from a local convenience store. She began buying them for him. “He loves it when I do this. It’s such a simple thing to do, and lets him know I’m thinking about him.”

4. Invest in his stock.

Share with your children things you admire about their father. This lets them see how important your marriage is to you. Though it’s been said dozens of times, the way Mom sees Dad is the greatest influencer of how the children see him. Do this with others as well. Many women excel at communicating their children’s strengths, but not their husband’s.

One woman pointed out that often friends will talk about their children in glowing terms, but when they talk about their husbands, they tend to talk about their weaknesses and inabilities. If you do this, stop! Commit to sharing with others only those things that build your husband up. Words are infectious and should be chosen wisely.

5. Make your bedroom a haven.

Too often this is the catchall room. Make an effort to keep it clean, organized, and inviting. One woman bought a small love seat and placed it in the master bedroom. This is where she and her husband spend a few moments together once they’ve gotten in the door at the end of the day. It shows their children that they value each other’s company as well. Burn a fragrant candle so that the room smells inviting and warm.

6. Cater to his quirks.

Many times we think our children’s quirks are cute but our husband’s are obnoxious. One woman discovered that her husband liked his sheets changed often, yet she preferred going longer between changings. “I fought this for years,” she said. “I thought he was being too obsessive. One day my daughter asked why I ignored her father’s request for clean sheets but always changed hers whenever she asked. I was shocked. This was something I didn’t even realize I was doing. I suddenly saw that I was not only dismissing one of my husband’s rare requests, but I was also modeling wrong priorities for my daughter.”

7. Check your attitude.

Said one woman, “I was stunned one night when my husband told me that he wished I had the same attitude toward him that I had toward the kids. From his perspective, I bent over backward for them. I ran all over town to find my daughter the right dress or my son the right tennis shoes. But he said that if he asked me to stop at the hardware store and pick up a gallon of paint, I balked.” Our attitudes speak volumes to our husbands.

8. Pray for your husband.

This tip could go in every chapter. There is nothing like prayer to soften your heart and sharpen your focus.

9. Reintroduce pet names into your relationship.

Refrain from calling him “Dad” or Daddy.” Choose instead to call him by a name that shows your love and high regard for him as a husband.

Your husband may or may not respond as you re-prioritize your relationships. It really isn’t an issue, though, if you are doing it to honor God. Certainly it’s nice for him to notice and appreciate your efforts, but it isn’t necessary. God notices.

This article comes from the book, The Politically Incorrect Wife: God’s Plan for Marriage Still Works Today, written by Nancy Cobb and Connie Grigsby, published by Multnomah. This is a real down-to-earth book which is both inspiring yet practical. It gives the reader to have a clearer understanding of God’s design for the married woman. The authors explain how, between the both of them, they bought into more than 40 years of modern day thinking. Eventually they realized how it was sabotaging their marital relationships.

Excerpted from The Politically Incorrect Wife © 2000-2002 by Nancy Cobb and Connie Grigsby. Used by permission of Multnomah Publishers, Inc. Excerpt may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of Multnomah Publishers, Inc.

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Filed under: Childrens Effect on Marriage For Married Women

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465 responses to “How Husband Feels When Wife Puts Children Ahead of Him

  1. I’ve been married almost 4 years. I have 3 step children and I had one child with my wife. Most of my marriage my wife has taken sides with her children. The children lacked a lot of discipline when I came on the scene. I was trying to help make raising them easier by applying a mixture of punishment and love to help mature them. She told me once, that she felt like I was picking on her son. Her son had a very smart mouth, and would always throw in his opinion while the adults were talking (when he should have stayed in his place as a child), and my wife would never object to his disrespectfulness.

    The kids didn’t want to clean up after themselves, nor did they want to do their homework and class assignments, so I had to work really hard to apply consequences for their behavior. The two oldest kids pretty much gave up on class and started failing really bad. My wife would always seem to try to rescue them from my method of punishment. If I told the kids that they couldn’t have their game tablets for a week my wife would say no just take it away for a day. As a result the children grew to take advantage of her and she couldn’t see it.

    My son walked in our bedroom one day and told me “dad, step out I need to talk to mom about something.” I told my wife that he wanted something and he knew that he could negotiate with her if I wasn’t in the room. I told her that he knows he can work on her and change her mind. She didn’t believe me. As a result it continued to be hard to raise the children. She told me she doesn’t want the kids to not want to be around her when they get older. All of this has taken a toll on our marriage. It’s hard being a stepfather when your wife takes her kids side and tries to come to their rescue when they are just as wrong as two left shoes. It feels like I’m wasting my time… It’s not going to work if her thinking doesn’t change…..

    1. Dear Anonymous, You have reason for concern. This situation could very well destroy your marriage. The number 1 reason for divorce among couples where step children are brought into the marriage is because of disagreements over step parenting issues. You’ve GOT to get help so you can find a way to get on the same page and make this a workable situation where you are both satisfied. You both have valid points, but you need to find ways to bridge those points so you work together, rather than oppose each other. Children (young or old, and particularly step children) are very masterful at dividing spouses when it comes to raising them. You and your wife are falling into this trap. The kids are immature, but you both need to be mature and get the help you need so you can unite and not send mixed messages. Please don’t say you can’t afford to get the help. You can’t afford NOT to get the help. This WILL divide you permanently, I can assure you. We see it over and over and over and over again. Divorce is MUCH more costly (in many ways) than getting help.

      If you don’t know of a MARRIAGE FRIENDLY counselor who specializes in these types of issues, I have a few recommendations. First, make sure it IS a marriage-friendly counselor. If you don’t know what that is, then go to You will want a counselor who is marriage friendly, AND is competent in counseling those who are in step parenting situations. The purpose is to get you and your wife on the same page, so you can stand together in the parenting of these children. This would be good for your marriage, and good for those kids. Mixed messages confuses them and does harm, as well. If you don’t know where to go, please consider asking the ministry of Focus on the Family at to guide you to one in your area. Also, you may find articles to help you in the Remarriage topic of this web site, as well as ministry links that could guide you to someone to help you. Please do this ASAP. It’s important to the health of your marriage, and your family life.

  2. I can agree much here with this article. I have married my wife twice, currently we are separated again and possibly going to divorce again. My wife is married to her children; She has 2 from her first husband and a third from a former boyfriend. I love my wife and respect her. I love her children as my own blood. I am not appreciated for all the cooking, cleaning, house maintenance that I do. I cook daily for her children and then cook a separate meal for my wife (and serve her that meal in bed) so she can come home to relax.

    I watch how she she puts her children before me, and our dog. I am not on the list; I am the 5th wheel, the outsider. I am quite lonely and when I try to talk to her about it, I am at fault. So far I am made to believe that I am controlling (a nazi) because I want to teach her narcissistic, entitled children responsibility. I am not a man, I am not happy and a miserable person, I am also told I have mental issues and am paranoid. I am not allowed to reprimand because my wife will undermine me, she will constantly point my faults out to her children and when there is an argument make sure they are on her side and ostracize me. You would think that in our first marriage that I would have learned, that everything is my fault and I am to blame for all their heartaches and problems. She wants to work things out but it is me who needs to change and not them.

    I am a God fearing and Bible believing man that believes in the structure of marriage according to His word. My wife “claims” to be saved but I must admit I do not see it. I know it will be sin for me to divorce her. I am living separately from her and am lonely. I will say that I was lonelier living in that house. I felt like a slave to them. I work hard and come home and work harder and clean up after her kids while they are allowed to do nothing. I am tired and I feel as though she wants a slave to her children and her house. But like she says, my thinking is all messed up and her love for me is different than her love for her children. She is always too busy for me, always has something to do around the house, but she seems to never get anything done. Actions speak louder than words as I live by. Please forgive me Lord for always failing you.

    1. Jeff, time for a time consuming hobby, gold or a big motorcycle. Play guitar in a band. It’s something you can do with other guys who have been dissed by their wives.

  3. My wife and I have been married for 14 years with 3 children from 8-13 yrs old. I love her more than anything but since kids our marriage is growing significantly apart. She had a very abusive mother as a child then at a young age was raised by her father. We’ve always joked over the years that sometimes our roles are reversed in our relationship. I like to sit by her, hold hands, kiss and just be with her. She doesn’t like any of that. I can’t remember if she’s always been that way or not.

    I see her putting 100% of her effort into only the kids to avoid becoming her mother, which she is absolutely nothing like. She is a great mother but her attention to just the kids leaves me completely out of the picture. It’s not even just me but finances, working, the house etc all take a far back seat. We disagree on some things because she focuses on today and not long term affects of the children especially when it comes to our relationship. For example I know that the long term affects on our children if we split are far more damaging than date night or making them sleep in their own room or putting them to bed early…etc.

    A few years ago I got up late and was running late to leave for her parents (step mom and dad) for Thanksgiving. While in the shower she asked how long I would be and I said 15-20 mins. After getting the 3rd degree she just left with the kids. Til this day she sees nothing wrong with her actions and it was my fault. Being late and the kids missing 20 mins of thanksgiving was more detrimental to the kids than not having their father there with them. To do something like that would never in a million years even cross my mind.

    Sex gets to the point of hurry up and lets get this over with, which is about twice a month. She says I’m way too sexually active and it’s not right to do it more than that anyway. I on the other hand would like it more and do get to the point where I hate “just getting it over with.” We fight about that and sometimes I’m just quiet and do it anyway because I know it could be weeks/month or even more. I know that is wrong but I have tried non sexual touches and not bringing up sex and it went several months with no change and I caved.

    I can’t seem to find a way to bring her back into the relationship without sounding selfish. I am very active in our kids as well. Coaching, school, discipline etc and I have perfect kids. They are funny, smart, very kind, very well behaved, get great grades, athletic and so on. We’ve argued about this several times and it’s always something different as the excuse. I work too much, the business is too stressful, finances or whatever is going on in our life at that time. We never get to the root of the problem, just the symptoms that got us there. For the first time in 16 years I’ve thought about separating but I can’t be without my kids. I need a deeper relationship that I’m afraid I’ll never have. Looking for suggestions!

    1. I am sorry to hear all of this. This happens frequently, like child worship. Its like the woman’s primary goal is to be a mother not a wife. You see it over & over. Maybe the woman is trying to make up what she did not get when she was young. Sex? Another tough one. Seems the more you ask, the worse the rejection. She says too much? How old are you guys? Early late 30’s 40’s? She could be becoming premenopausal. Hate to tell you this, things may go downhill for a few years until hormones straighten out. Does she work? Sounds like she does not. She has too much time to think about children. Like I tell other guys, you need a time consuming hobby, golf, guitar, fishing, a big motorcycle, something that will get you out of the house on weekends. You will find other guys with the same issue.

  4. When it comes to your children that you bore in pain, labor, from your body, your flesh and blood, the little babies… that depend on their mother…they win hands down every time! Men are grown men…if you don’t help cook and clean up after your kids or wipe their poopy butts who else does it? Mom! Mom is the most important job!

    Men are just husbands or boyfriends that is conditional love, that love changes over time. Let me ask, most people in their 50s love their mothers right? When dad is dead and gone it’s the kids that take care of the mother in her 80s. There is a special bond when it comes to mothers and daughters… and/or their kids. How can u as a 2nd husband expect to come first over her kids? You are joining her family her children were there before you!

    1. So basically, what I believe I hear you saying is that a man is just a good sperm donor. You marry them, and then put them in the back seat once you have “your” kids. “Mom” is the most important job. Husbands are inferior because of the “conditional love” that is given to them once they give their sperm to produce your children. And dads are just there to stand behind the mother as a convenience to the mother who has this “special bond” given to mothers and daughters and/or their kids. Did I read this wrong? I hope so. I’m hoping I am viewing your take on husbands differently than you meant to give it.

      Personally, I’ve found that even though I have always been more of the nurturing parent, my husband is a VERY important part of our (now grown) sons lives. They have as “special” of a bond as I do. It’s not the same; it’s different. But it’s just as important. And as far as “conditional love” for my husband, I didn’t give that vow on my wedding day. I didn’t put conditions on my love when I said my vows. I gave promises to my husband, and to God in front of the witness of everyone who came to our wedding. Yes, things change, but through intentionality, our love has grown deeper and more meaningful than anyone could ever imagine. We’ve worked on that. We’ve weathered many tough times, but we’re committed to each other, and we’ve grown through those tough times. I love this man — the father of OUR children more than ever before.

      Now that our sons are grown and have families of their own, guess what? It’s back to being my husband and I being together most of the time. Our sons and their families are in and out of our home (but always in both of our hearts). They are growing their own marriages and family life. I’m glad that I put intentionality into growing my relationship with my husband while our sons were growing. I made a vow and I intend to keep my end of that covenant promise. And this has been a great example to our sons. They have great marriages and are very committed to each other, AND to their children… teaching them that love in marriage is an important thing to grow. I want my “children” and their children to grow good marriages AND families. I hope that is true for you too.

      1. Your kids are your family no matter what! No! You misjudged everything I said. A man and woman must respect each other…but in order for his wife to take a little back seat is for the husband to step up; let him cook the dinners, bathe the kids clean their noses, etc. Children need love. Their brains are developing, they are small and innocent; but a husband is a grown man whom had his own mother take care of him when he was little. It should be a man and woman together putting the kids first, like if your house is burning….a woman will never forgive you if you saved her first over the screaming helpless 3 year old child…whose life has just begun. The day you become a mother your children are your legacy…we wouldn’t survive if our mothers ignored us to only please the men in their life.

        Let me tell you this, some women are deeply in love with a man; maybe he is a 2nd or 3rd husband and her kids aren’t his, but her kids were her family before he was or vice versa to a woman….if her kids feel unloved and cared for they grow up looking for mother figures in all the wrong places. If a man sexually abuses her child and she sides with him or makes it clear that my new husband comes before you (children) well they may feel rejected, so if bad things happen to them…well mommy won’t listen to me! Mommy won’t believe me. Then in the end the woman loses her adult children. The kids can end up dysfunctional from abuse. These are the ones that will live and work in society.

        Loving your husband is important but it’s a selfless act to love your children more…they are the ones going to make a difference in the world and out live both parents. But it’s selfish for a man to make her choose or not to put the children he also created first. You can have a great relationship as a couple, but when a man yells or calls a name to his wife or GF what happens? Love can change! It’s conditional….if he cheats or the wife cheats? But when your children are mad at you and say…mom you are mean, I hate you! You will still love them. If they called you a name it will hurt like hell but the love at the end of the day is still unconditional….why? Cause they will always be your babies no matter how old they get! When I look at my little girl all I see is that little baby the first time she came out of me crying. I’m a mom I know.

        If someone’s not happy there is the door! Period! A mother or a father should not be selfish to love each other more…don’t create a life if you feel that a grown man who is able bodied should come first, cause again….the child will suffer for life! I have heard and seen too many.

        1. Wow…This post is a ringing endorsement for me as a man not to get married. I am 31 years old and semi-retired (own some rental properties). I know a lot of women that hold this view and I would never want to be married to them. Single is the way to go for a man like me.

          1. Well that’s good for you. Stay single and die alone maybe no one will want your seed anyway….with no children to take care of you when you are old. I work with an eye doctor and believe me when I say I see a lot of old people coming in with their adult children mostly daughters helping both parent to and from the doctors offices. Rarely do I see two 80 something year olds going in together as they barely can take care of their own self, it’s hard enough to take of your own self if one has a back problem or can’t walk fast enough. When your wife is too old or dead to help take care of you those kids that you resent so much…bare the ones that step in! In the end it’s only one of you left and so another reason why kids come first I guess lol. The animals even do it!

        2. Nah bro! I got the same impression from your first post as Cindy did.

          My soon to be ex wife was exactly like that, put me last when the first child was born. Guess who’s lonely now? I can tell you, it isn’t me, since I was told to “deal with it.”, I did deal with it and did something about it for myself.

          Again, now the kids are older and doing their own thing, guess who’s complaining now about not getting attention.

          Oh well, stinks to be her right now…

      2. Kids are first. Priority. I’d say the dad is usually not doing what he should as a parent. If he were he wouldn’t have time to be sorry for himself.

    2. Jenny from Canada, the Bible says that a man should leave his mother & father & be joined to his wife. We are called to be husbands & wives first. Not parents first. The Bible has more references to marriage than raising children. Mainly training & discipline for children. Not being married to your children. You said mom is the most important job, please do not discount us dads. Our children love us dads too. Please remember these children will grow up & will need to be pushed out of the nest to be mentally healthy. My son-in-law is babied & worshiped by his mother. That caused him to be selfish, lazy, no consideration of others, priorities mixed up. He expects his wife & mother to do everything. What few things he does, he acts like it is the greatest thing. Your children will grow up & move out (hopefully) & maybe move across the country or be in the military. You will need your husband then, so be nice & respect him now.

      1. Not everyone follows the Bible word for word….don’t compare 3000 years to now. Aren’t children gifts from God? There are many religions in the world. Now many older ladies end up living with their mothers once her husband dies? And or divorce? Etc. There are many types of families out there and to each one is different! I will be fine without my husband if he does wrong to me….and vice versa….I have my good friends, family, children, nieces and nephews, cousins whom I am all close to. I have a lot of friends and family to occupy my time with. I have a job and can get involved in many activities…..we have an understanding at home between us children first! But we love each other but we both have contact with them you are parents so should we leave our parents? Who does that? Walk away and never look back? No! Stop quoting Bible passages when my 2nd comment made total sense!

        1. Hebrews 13:8, New International Version (NIV) 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Sure children are gifts from God, Psalms 127, but you just said that no one believes the Bible word for word; Psalms was written 3000 years ago. Why believe that verse & not ones about marriage? Other religions? Sure, some believe cows & monkeys are gifts from God & are holy. You said “I will be fine without my husband” gee, he is way down the food chain in your eyes. But hey, to each their own…

  5. I feel this way when my husband gives his 35 year old son (from a previous marriage) money and not me! His son is able to work, but his son wastes his hard earned money on his meth addiction, and my husband has to bail him out by always paying his rent. And I’m unable to work because of a disability due to a car accident and have to depend on my husband for money which I don’t ever get. Because my stepson always comes first. We’re always fighting about the money situation, because my stepson is allowed to contiune doing what he’s doing with the drugs because he’s got daddy to help him out (a 35 year old working man can’t pay his own rent) Thank God I don’t do drugs whatsoever and it’s like my husband doesn’t trust me to have money at all.

  6. That’s my wife, she will even text our son when I’m fixing to tell him to pick his stuff up or walk his dog more than 2 minutes. The kids sits in front of the TV and on their phones for hours. They have to be told to do each thing. She gets mad if I say anything. She will take them out to and never offer. Our marriage sucks, I feel alone sitting with them most of the time.

  7. The majority of males are such babies. That’s the problem. lol. They see the kids like competition. Hellllooo “petty”.