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?

Also, When Children Are Prioritized Ahead of a Husband, He Feels:

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.


Here’s an article we recommend you read on this issue:


— PLUS —

We strongly recommend that you read the following linked article that is related, written by Gary Thomas:


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Filed under: Childrens Effect on Marriage For Married Women

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

  1. So, we know that responsibilities for families and caretaking rest heavily on women’s shoulders and its disheartening to hear women being bashed and given yet another task list to see to the needs of their husband. It really does have to be a partnership.

    1. Yes; that’s God’s plan. And when one of us is out of sync with His plan, the marriage can never be as good as God planned it to be.

    2. I’m confused Maria. How is it a task for you to have to look after the emotional needs of the man you married? Would you not expect him to look after your emotional needs? Should any man become a second class citizen or placed on the back burner in the family that both of you decided to have?

      I don’t recall that women made a vow to marry their children in front of God. Christ is first, then marriage and then children. Your partnership to each other comes first, before the children for the most part and certainly before most everything else. If anyone abandons their spouse emotionally or otherwise, how is that in any way supported biblically?

      1. Thanks Shon, I completely agree. Thanks for sharing this. It helps to hear from others than just us. We appreciate you!

    3. Hmmm Maria, that’s news to me. From day 1 after our oldest was born, I (the man) took on the responsibilities of family and caretaking. I worked full-time, my wife did not. I did all the housework, childcare, shopping, laundry, cooking, etc. Why? Because my (now ex) wife was too lazy and selfish to do it. And I will never let my children go uncared for. And she wonders why the kids wanted to live with me after the divorce? And my needs? What I really needed from her was to leave. And when she finally did, that was one less person to clean up after.

      Your stereotype is sexist and invalid.

  2. My issue is not so much children, but my wife’s sisters. My wife feels like she has to fix all their problems, and they place all their issues on my wife’s shoulders. But she visits their houses all the time, then she comes home spending countless hours thinking, looking on the internet for resolutions. I need to find a good hobby.

    1. So sorry Bob. I pray that someday she wakes up to join you to work on your marriage, rather than everyone else’s problems, which causes problems in her own marriage.

  3. I’m worried about my brother-in-law. His wife cheated on him a few years ago and I don’t see her really giving him the love and attention that he needs. I feel that she is so caught up in the world and things she leaves him out. He doesn’t look real happy. I think she takes advantage of him all the time; she just wants with no plan of return of thanks. He’s a good man and a good provider but she needs to open her eyes before it’s to late and make up for what she did to him.

  4. Guys, it happens to the best of us, if not with children, it will be with grandchildren. My wife has always been consumed with our son, not necessarily our daughter. Our son has a daughter & my wife goes all-out toward our granddaughter. Looks at her constantly, we only live a few miles apart. What leftover affection she has goes toward our son. The remaining crumbs of affection goes toward our daughter & her child. I feel more like a servant to my wife. She does not seem to care.

    Yes, I spend time with children & grands, the more I talk about the granddaughter, the happier wife is. But to me, there is more to my marriage than grandchildren, but not to my wife. Talking about this is very destructive for me, so I don’t fight it. Again, she does not seem to care. I know she does not love me, she has basically told me this. But when all telephone conversations are done, pictures looked at, she will occasionally sit next to me on the couch. That lets me know I am at the bottom of the food chain. Painful to accept, causes a lot of anxiety. Lonely nights, I need to practice what I preach, I need a hobby, learn to play guitar, looking at joining a gym,

    1. Just curious, did you put your job before your wife and kids? If so then you likely created her getting the love she needs elsewhere.

      Many men become quite job obsessed and basically ignore their wives and also their kids when SHE and they needed you to be present at least some of the time in a hands on way, find themselves painted odd man out but blame the wife, and not themselves.

      1. You’re not curious. You’re not curious in the slightest. You’re projecting. How do you have ANY idea what his life and priorities are?? And yet, you conjure a notion out of thin air and it becomes your entire premise. I hope you don’t operate any heavy machinery.

  5. A love between a man and woman should not be breakable under any circumstances. Trust and obedience and principles must be established. Love helps maintain a healthy life. Everybody has their place in the relationship 😉. We must learn not to go overboard. Once you appreciate everyone’s role in the relationship in your family it takes wisdom and commitment to not let children have a say.

  6. My situation is that my wife spends much more time with our adult son who is living with us (instead of letting him live on the street). She will spend hours watching TV with him but will leave when I turn on something important to me. She will stay up late with him, and be too tired for any interaction in bed with me. I have several medical/health conditions and yet she is too occupied with him to come to bed to see to my needs. Any ideas?

    1. Women have attractions to their sons. That is their baby. My wife does it with my son, she is drawn to his child. Where with our daughter she is not attracted to her or her children. You cannot change this. Sorry. Don’t be needy to your wife. Makes it worse.

    2. James, this is a really tough one! I wish we had a magic wand available that we could wave around that would open the eyes of our loved ones to see the harm they are doing to their marriages in situations like this. But we don’t.

      The best I can suggest is to pray and keep praying that my spouse would see the harm that this situation is causing to the marriage relationship. It’s difficult to have a relationship when your spouse wants to participate more with a son than with her husband. I’d pray, and keep praying.

      And I’d also ask the Lord to show me what MY part in all of this is and should be. I sense bitterness here. And that is absolutely understandable. But it isn’t helpful to anyone–including you. I’d fight that in every way possible and ask God to give me extra insight into how I could talk to my spouse and what I could do to have her want to spend more time with me. I’d also look for ways to romance my spouse (even little things help) and seek to build the love that is going on (or used to go on) between you. I’m sensing that this might be at a low level right now… but I’m just guessing. We’ve seen that even dead marriages can be resurrected. Sometimes not, but there is hope.

      I know this sounds like a simplistic answer. Truly, I don’t want to give you that, but there is no easy/simple solution to this. Also, you might want to talk to a pastor about this or a Christian counselor to get some more suggestions. You might even contact Focus on the Family (which you can find their contact info at their web site at: and put the term “counselor” in their search feature to find out the options they make available to you). They have counselors on staff that may be able to make some helpful suggestions.

      I hope this helps James–truly! Just keep in mind that spouses most often respond better to softness in words and loving actions, rather than negativity and nagging and pulling and tugging. That softness helped you both to fall in love with each other in the first place and can be helpful in helping to grow (or resurrect) your love afterward. Just suggesting… I’m not sure, but I think this could be helpful. I pray it will be.

  7. My wife is more concerned about how “she” looks to “her” kids when making a decision than sticking to OUR original agreement and supporting me and “us” as a marital partnership. Rather than state to our kids “I” or “WE” don’t think that’s a good idea, my wife will state, “Well, you know how so and so (me) feels about that or what ‘he’ll’ say about that.”

    This to me undermines any authority or respect in my opinion. It’s hard to keep forgiving and overlooking this issue after many years of this constant, repeated behavior, (and abuse in my opinion).

    1. Yeah, my children, my grandchildren, my family, my house, gets ordered around, never asks about decisions etc… I know how you feel. We guys get the bad end of the deal in this respect. I am trying to get a new hobby.

  8. Nathan from Zambia

    From the article as the husband there, I feel inferior in the sense that even if am to discipline the child, the debate will start in the presence of my child…it’s worse and I get tempted to go outside.

  9. As a wife, putting the children before my husband started long before now. From the minute they were born, I have done it ALL. Cared for them, the house, laundry, grocery shopping, cooking, getting the kids up and ready for church and school, homework, all finances, holidays, birthdays, social events, even kept up with the tags for the car, ALSO working outside the home. He’d go to work and then play video games when he was home. Here and there he’d engage, but I wandered around feeling half dead, and emotionally and physically abandoned, while he was glued to the tv. Fast forward 20 years, I’m very close to my kids, and feel I have a decent relationship with my husband. He wholeheartedly disagrees, and claims I always put them in front of him, making him feel alone and unloved in the marriage.

    This is not deliberate on my part, it’s just the way it has always been, and the only thing I’ve ever known in the relationship. He simply wasn’t “there,” so it was me and the kids. Reflecting back, he helped “create” this issue by abandoning the relationship to “play” and enjoy his free time, instead of pulling his weight and lifting some of the heavy burdens from me, so I HAD the energy for our relationship at the end of the day. He never did, and is now very resentful, blaming me.

    I have committed to improving it and putting him first, but he must share his own responsibility in how the problem started and continued to escalate over the years. Sadly, I wanted someone to throw their weight into the yolk and pull alongside me throughout the marriage, but instead had to navigate married life and child rearing on my own. I’m trying hard to work on this, but it feels foreign.

    1. @ Charlotte. With me, it was mostly working, working two jobs, building a business, building us a nice home to live in (literally built it). Later on, I did get a TV, after not having one for years, and I have never played video games. But TV has become a way of tuning out the stresses of life for a while. I know, shouldn’t have bought one, but she shouldn’t have refused “intimacy” so many times either. That really makes a man feel low you know, very humiliating, depressing and unmotivating.. But hey, we all have made mistakes; no one’s perfect right?

  10. Disrespected, Invalidated, Disposable. When the kids were home, I was corrected by my wife every time I tried to correct one of the children. If they were getting a spanking she would put a stop to it. If the kids talked back, to me, I was on my own; she never corrected them, while I would not tolerate them doing it to her.

    At Thanksgiving, one of my sons shouted at me and talked down to me. She never said a word to them. If I do the same, she invariably corrects me in front of them.

    1. I have the exact same issue with my wife. It’s the biggest bone of contention in my marriage and has negatively affected every part of it. She always puts the kids before me and have done for most, if not all of our marriage. Even in discipline she sides with the kids. They are grown up now but nothings changed. No amount of trying to discuss this resolves anything as my wife can never accept my point of view. What I say falls on deaf ears — she listens but never takes responsibility for her part in the marriage. To me she always comes off as always “right”.

  11. A marriage is not a competition and children need care, more so than a grown person. If a husband feels unloved, this may be a reflection of his own insecurities. In today’s modern world, women have even more responsibilities. So many children are getting shipped off to daycare while a women earns her salary. If a man is raised right, getting lots of love from his father, he will be strong and empowered.

    He will be steeped in using his power to support his wife and she will then love him fiercely. I think too many things are blamed on women, which give men less and less personal responsibility to show up the way an adult is meant to. This robs him of feeling like the man of the home.

  12. I love my husband and refuse to prioritize my children above him. My kids are going to grow up and move out and move on with their own lives. I married my husband for life. I have friends whose marriages revolve around their children and they have such little respect for each other. Women let their kids sleep in the marital bed and their husbands have to sleep on the sofa. They spend the family’s entire budget on the kids’ extracurricular activities and never have any money to do anything just for the two of them. They give in to the kids’ constant demands for everything they want so the couple never has any time for themselves. Divorce rates are high and we are raising a generation of self-centered entitled narcissists. Children should not be put on a pedestal in a marriage. They are a part of the family, not the center of it. It is more important to raise them to be polite, respectful, caring, decent human beings than the top gymnast or swimmer or soccer player.

  13. This are helpful tips but have you considered that the spouse needing the attention may be a narcissist? When a mother attends to the child’s basic needs it should not make the husband jealous. I don’t think that’s normal. For example, When a child is sick and needs attention and the husband is complaining of lack of attention and not offering any support this is not normal.

    1. Sarah, it’s not fair to call men narcissist. It’s not when the child is sick, it’s general life. Here is an example that just happened to me: We (me & wife) like hearing a particular band play at this really cool restaurant. I made plans for us to go Friday night. Wife was excited. We were with my adult son last night, he asked her “what are you doing this weekend?” My wife said, “Nothing, what do you need for me to do?” I later reminded my wife of our plans, she said, “I don’t want to go anywhere.” Nothing to do with being a narcissist. It’s just she will go & do for others, but when it comes to me, she generally doesn’t.

      I was trying to schedule a little beach trip; she said no, don’t want to use her vacation time, but she is using vacation time to baby sit in a couple of months. I know our children & grandchildren come first with my wife, I accept the fact, but when you see couples doing fun things, eating out, at the beach, etc, I would like to do the same, I have been adjusting mentally, doing my own thing, relying less on my wife, knowing that anything I schedule like a date, or trip, may be cancelled. I even get in my hot tub by myself, I have quit asking…

      1. Bob, I am a 45 yr old mom of 3 (14,10,5). I am soooo jealous of your wife! I have been pleading for dates, trips, quality time, etc. He never has money or time for these things (he will literally steal from the kids piggybanks to fund his 3 pack a day habit). He also never plans. Any vacation we ever had, I planned. Dates too.

        We are on the verge of splitting. In addition to what I just described, he is mean to the kids and myself. Yelling, throwing things, name calling, throwing up my past in my face, pushing me down during arguments, etc. Then he wonders why I stopped having sex with him. It is the way he treats me.

        And the fact that he gets his, and does not care if I get mine.

        Game over.

    2. Not to generalize, but Sarah’s comment definitely requires some consideration. ‘Some’ fathers are narcissistic fathers (as is there narcissistic mothers). Their egos get in the way. There is lack of regard for the development of their children. There is the need to control situations. The obsession is that their child should just BE perfect. The constant feeling is that their child is their competition.

      My children are now young teens. They are still in crucial development years – being a teenager is difficult. I empathize with them and want to be there for them to encourage them to make the right decisions to become great adults. When our son was 11 he started seeing how far he could push boundaries and trying to get away with things that he probably knew wouldn’t fly with us. At that age our son needed a little extra focus. My husband was impatient with him and gave up on him. Several times my husband threw his hands in the air and said he was done with the kid. He said he wasn’t getting involved anymore, that our son was on his own.

      Excuse me… the kid was 11! He treated our son like he didn’t even exist. I feel like I had to do the work of 2 parents in that situation. Therefore I had to put extra focus on our son. My husband accused me of loving our son more and five years later he still does. During the last five years I was left with no choice but to spend that extra time with our son. My son and I developed the bond that my husband abandoned.

      I also continue to try and find common interests, alone time, inclusiveness, intimacy between my husband and I. I tried more than one person should be expected to. He is just so resentful. Being a parent is a full time job until our children are adults. We can’t quit this job. My husband did. When he quit, something in me broke regarding him. Quitting your young children is unacceptable. My situation has left me to feel spread too thin.

  14. What if the person the wife is putting ahead of the husband is a nephew, or a brother? She bends over backwards for their happiness and plans them and what they want into our vacations. But what I want from the vacation is summarily dismissed as selfish and not worthy of their time, as it might bore her brother or her nephew. She injects her rother or nephew into literally every vacation. I try to compromise both by saying maybe this one vacation but not the next one, or how about she do her thing with them but not make me do it. That’s not acceptable to her.

    1. I have heard my wife say many, many times on joint vacations, “I am just trying to make everybody happy.” I am usually not included in the “everybody”. I have learned to let her wear herself out to avoid being labeled as selfish. She will say, “I felt like I didn’t have a vacation. When you are everybody’s ‘servant’ that usually happens.

  15. This is the most out touch article I have seen. Maybe 1 percent of husband’s truly are involved in there children’s lives, the burden is on the wife. Then the husbands whine because of lack of attention. Many of them run around on there wife who is devoted to the marriage. Also many men become verbally abusive, physically abusive and mean to the entire family unit,including the pets. Men the idea of a great father and dad is giving totally of yourself. Do what your wife does – giving all she has to those kids. Flush your male need for respect and get busy being a father and husband. Join in or get left out. Jesus, the greatest man ever understood how to give it all! Jesus did not get married, nor did Adam and Eve and Paul discouraged marriage.

    1. Victoria, your parents were married!! I guess…Not sure what planet (or country, city) you are from. You need to look further than your house on the 1% husband comment. Paul discouraging marriage? You need to read Matt 19:8-10; this is talking about divorce. Or you may be referring to 1 Cor 7:36? Read it carefully, refers to your virgin children. Then Paul said: Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. It’s a balance.

      I take it you are single…

      1. When I come home, my kids run up and welcome me with a smile. My ex quickly changes into RBF mode and might give me a hateful look. My kids show appreciation for what I do for the family. My ex did nothing but complain and nag.

        The kids knew who did the housework, laundry, cooking and childcare. Yep, that’s me again. My ex did nothing but demand more and do less. I read the bedtime stories, fed the bottles, prayed with the kids, told them I loved them, and tucked them into bed. My ex thought that was a waste of time.

        The kids make my life better. My ex certainly made my life better when she left. The kids and I continue to do just fine. Who do you think the kids chose to live with? Me. And guess who’s more miserable than ever? Her. Good riddance.

    2. Riiiight. The article is obviously ‘out of touch,’ since you can pull random numbers completely out of thin air and attempt to substantiate it with rare and obscure circumstances out of the norm rather than the norm, all the while managing to completely undermine the entire basis of successful Christian marriage. But, it’s the article that’s out of touch. Of course.

    3. Funny that you should mention Eve.

      ‘It is not right for man to be alone. I will make a…

      … helper

      … suitable for him.’

      Facts are stubborn things.