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Who Comes First...

BSgoinon's picture

This was brought up on another blog, but I wanted to address it and see what the general ST population thinks...

In a "nuclear family" situation, it goes without saying (pretty much) that your SPOUSE comes first... then the kids. There is a rare occassion that someone will say "no way kids first", but for the most part it is commonly answered "spouse first".

So why is it expected to change in a blended family situation? I understand that you don't want to put your kids in a bad situation. Of course you don't. But isn't that something that you take in to consideration BEFORE you marry them? Is this person good for MY kids? Does he/she treat them well.. etc etc. THEN you marry, and spouse comes first and kids come second. A united front.

I would say if AFTER you are married... your spouse then starts treating them poorly, then you would have to consider leaving the situation, but that is true for a nuclear family as well. BIO parents can be bad parents too. BIO parents verbally and physically abuse children. It's not just STEP parents that do that.

I have to say that when it comes to "putting your spouse first", you have to use common sense when it comes to putting your kids second to your spouse. OF COURSE you are going to get them out of a dangerous situation, just as you would in a nuclear situation.

That's just the way I see it. It may not be right... but it has worked for me. Wink


herewegoagain's picture

The real double standard? That those BMs who did NOT put their kids first when they decided to divorce, as THEIR happiness was first, think that WE as stepmoms should put THEIR kid's Really? No, either spouse/adults come first or kids come first. Period. You as a divorcee do not get to decide that for YOU, adults come first, but for someone else, YOUR kids come first...

New second wife-step-mom's picture

i think the spouse should come first as a rule. HOWEVER...

^^^^EXACTLY. There is ALWAYS exceptions to any rule.

Willow2010's picture

I don’t buy the whole …”spouse come first” if you have underage children involved. Weather married to bio father or not. I also think that sometimes the kid comes first and sometime the spouse. But I do know that I had kids knowing FULL WELL, that it was my responsibility to raise them into great adults.

I would love to ask this question to the people that say spouse comes first NO MATTER WHAT….”your kid and spouse are about to fall off a cliff and you can only save one…which would you save?”

My answer would be kid.

BSgoinon's picture

I would love to ask this question to the people that say spouse comes first NO MATTER WHAT….”your kid and spouse are about to fall off a cliff and you can only save one…which would you save?”

Interesting... I never actually thought about that. And I agree, I would save my child. But I think DH would MAKE me anyways.

Purplemom's picture

^^^^ this, you have to think of your family as a house... the marraige is the foundation that the kids build their lives and personalities on.... and we all know what hapens when houses are build on shaky foundations.

StickAFork's picture

I think the expectation changes because you've already blown the "spouse comes first" out of the water by divorcing them. Smile

Honestly, in a nuclear family, the kids are born into it.
In a follow up family, they just get thrown in with whomever mom or dad decides to love.

My primary responsibility is to my minor children. I will not allow my DH to erode that relationship. However, I work to be an equal parent with him, include him in decisions, etc.

I don't understand why it has to be a competition, really. If DH acts like an ass to them, I'm in their court. Vice versa, too. If my DH every told me I wasn't "allowed" to have my kids in my home, he'd be out the door.

BSgoinon's picture

-------> i think this right here is what inspires the question

You just "get" me, don't you?

That is exactly what I was thinking.

AngeLily's picture

^^^^^This is it. My first marriage, my kids came first because my ex DEMANDED to be most important regardless of what my kids needed. Example: spanking a ten month old with diaper rash for crying (because of the rash) while ex was trying to sleep. NOW, it depends solely on the needs themselves and what is right or wrong. At least on my end.

PeanutandSons's picture

I don't think anyone should always come before anyone else. A family should make all members feel valued and included, nuclear or step.

BSgoinon's picture

I agree with this... to a degree.

I think the only example I can come up with where someone put their KIDS before their spouse and it was a RESOUNDING problem in the marriage... is in a friend of mines marriage. She was SO wrapped up and involved with the kids that she neglected her marriage completely. to the point that the kids slept in the bed with her, husband slepton the couch. They got whatever they wanted at anyone's expense... KIDS CAME FIRST. Their wants, their desires... everything. Husband was basically left out for cold.

hismineandours's picture

Right-she was putting her kids in her husband's role. Two completely type different relationships.

Not_what_I_wanted's picture

Yes, this ^^^^.

This is DH to a T in his previous marriage. Then BM is surprised when he leaves her.

hismineandours's picture

The adult relationship is the primary relationship in the house. It's the way it is, it's the way it should be, IMO. If you have a healthy couple relationship, you will be able to parent more successfully, create a happier and healthier environment for your children. By putting your spouse first-you end up benefitting your children. If you put your spouse first, then ideally he will put you first as well and want to treat your children with love and kindness. Obviously we are talking an ideal situation-this is how it is supposed to work.

It is not a competition about whose first, or whose second. I think that's where a lot of folks get caught up. I dont put my dh first, my daugher 2nd and so on. My relationship is totally different than my relationship with my children. He is my friend, lover, partner and I try and treat him as such at all times. I love my children dearly but they are none of the above things to me. They are my children, I am responsible for them, and I am above them in the power structure. If my kid and my dh fell off a cliff-I would save my child-because I am responsible for them-my dh would also be trying to save MY child because he loves me and he loves them. (not that he would have much luck midair but he'd try!)

BSgoinon's picture

--------->The adult relationship is the primary relationship in the house.


When ExH and I first split, my family had a hard time with it. They don't "believe" in divorce. The only way that I could get through to them that I made the right choice in divorcing was to tell them this "ExH and I are TOXIC together. Our relationship is NOT healthy and not the environment I want my girls to be raised in. It is my responsibility to show my girls what a healthy marriage is supposed to look like so that can emulate that when they are grown. That is not possible in this marriage. They deserve to see BOTH of their parents happy and healthy. This is not the way to do it".

They finally understood.

unsure99's picture

daddies would rather receive kudos from their daughters (which generally come at no price other than just doing whatever the daughters want) as opposed to investing into relationship with their new wives and learning how to exist in a healthy, adult relationship.


mama_althea's picture

I'm like a broken record saying this every time the topic comes up, but the two relationships are so different they don't even belong in a comparison. Where the English language just has the word 'love', other languages have separate, distinct words for different types of love (family love, romantic love, brotherly love, friendship love, etc). So putting the 2 relationships in the same context is not only not comparing apples to apples, it's not even apples to oranges. It's like apples to...I dunno...pick some random non-fruit object...

mama_althea's picture

lol...yeah I pretty much had to trail off there because my mind couldn't stop thinking not so nice words...then the more I tried the worse it got.

stormabruin's picture

I agree with this 100%. When it comes down to ranking family members something is wrong. If everyone plays their appropriate role in the family, there's no competition. Kids are kids. Adults are adults, & one is not more important or more valuable than the other. They're just different.

Too many spouses act like children & too many children act like spouses.

If spouses are treated & behave as such & children are treated & taught to behave as such, there's no competition. There's no rank. It's just spouses, parents & children.

stormabruin's picture

But going along with the "kids need to stay in their place, period" comment, adults are the ones responsible for teaching them what is/isn't their place.

I can't agree with the idea that it doesn't seem to work that way in blended families. This hasn't been an issue for me & my DH & his kids. BM has tried to make my DH choose between me & his kids & he simply refused to do so.

A lot of people place the blame on the kids for assuming an adult role, but they can't just take it. An adult has to grant it, & sadly, too many do.

If the adults will behave like adults & teach the kids to behave like kids, there's no need for the 1st/2nd movement. It really just comes down to a parent teaching the children their place in the family. By place, I don't mean 1st/2nd. I mean adult/child.

unsure99's picture


DaizyDuke's picture

I think it depends and is a lot more complicated than just "spouse should always come first".... for instance, there are times that I would put our BS2.5 "first" an example would be let's say DH wanted us to go to a party, I also want to go, but can't find a sitter, so I encourage DH to go and I stay home with BS2.5. No biggie for either of us, heck that's what hubby/wife/nuclear family relationship is all about right?

I think it dramatically changes when the skid is the one who is screwing up your plans, life, etc. Like if the roles were reversed and DH couldn't go to said party because of no sitter for a skid? I would be pissed... skid before me right?

B22S22's picture

I think many people ask this question or have this stance because they are figuring out who gets to go on the highest pedestal.

In my opinion, they (spouse/kids) are on two separate pedestals. Like HMO said, the relationships are DIFFERENT, therefore you can't lump them (although some people do).

I'm not sure the word "priority" is the most appropriate to use in this situation, because that gives the impression that one person is rated above the other. I guess I'd rather use the term "obligations" -- obligations between the two adults in the house are different than the obligations between adult and child even though the same words can be used to describe said obligations (love, honor, cherish, support, defend to name a few).

AngeLily's picture

Yes! The needs are what matter. You can't lump people in the same category if the role is different.

BSgoinon's picture

I suppose I am of the belief that... if your marriage is strong and healthy TOGETHER you will raise your kids properly. And that is where I derive my "spouse first" theory. They are two completely different relationships and should not be compared, but often times on this board we see "SM should be before the SKIDS" etc etc...

It's crazy what a little common sense in a relationship will get you. Wink

BSgoinon's picture

It is a different relationship when they are HEALTHY. And I agree with that.

How many SM's on this board have "mini wives" as SD's? TONS... how many spoiled rotten SK's that are coddled and babied... a million.

If people would learn the difference and treat them that way, then so many probelms would be eliminated.

That's the issue I believe. Many people have not learned the difference. So the question still stands, because it is still an issue around here.

xtina's picture

Right on Sista! Smile
Guys with daughters need to learn this! You cannot give in to everything your daughter wants, you need to give in to everything your wife wants. You have to teach your daughters respect and boundaries. You make time for your daughters WITHOUT neglecting your wife. You make your daughter do her own laundry and chores, and don't make your wife do them for her. They are not your little wives, they are kids who need to be TAUGHT things.
Actually, this applies to guys with boys too I guess. You can't give in to every thing they want!

anafiodorova's picture

What if you are going through a difficult week at work and obviously need his support for a project that failed and you just need him there for emotional support.But he gets up on Saturday to spend his fun time at the movies with skid and you are left alone.Should he take your feelings into consideration and be there for you or go to see the release of the newest whatever movie with skid?

DaizyDuke's picture

I don't think that answer is black and white... there are too many variables.
Does he only get to see skids 4 days a month? Are you unwilling to go to movies with them?

And then you have to reverse it... so what if YOU only got to spend 4 days a month with your spouse (for whatever reason) and on one of those days skid says " I neeeed you daddy, I've had a terrible week!" Would you be OK if your spouse blew off his day with you?

Shaman29's picture

I don't think anyone should come first. It shouldn't be a competition between the adults and the children.

What happened in my own relationship with DH is things were fine before we shared a home. Once we shared a home, then it all went to hell in a hand-basket because in HIS home (and to be honest in Uberskank's home), his kid had adult spousal status. She saw me as competition, and I saw her as a kid who was too big for her britches.

DH didn't want to make waves, so he ignored her horrible behavior towards me, assuming it would stop or go away. Instead, he only made things worse by not reacting or dealing with her disrespect, he only cemented her belief that she was also an adult in the home and could treat me any way she pleased.

What it comes down to is the adults in the home should be a unit, side by side partnership that deals with the household issues and kids as one. It's not a matter of anyone coming first, but the couple is stronger if they are a unit, rather than divided. When the partnership breaks down, then the relationship with the kids (and skids) also breaks down. I feel this is when you see kids achieve adult spousal status. Because the adult partnership broke down, so naturally the adults seek another in the home in which to forge a partnership.

Had DH realized this from the first, I seriously doubt we would have faced all of the issues we had in the first 2.5 years of our marriage. I ended up losing a lot of respect for DH that he has not earned back. It was bad enough that his kid treated me horribly. But DH treated me worse because he refused to rock the boat with his mini-wife and allowed her to get away with her behavior.

So in answer to your question, it's not a matter of who comes first. But what comes first and what comes first should be a respectful partnership with your SO (or DH or DW). I believe the adults make it worse for the kids and skids if they don't have a balanced and respectful partnership/relationship. When it's unbalanced, it confuses all of the kids and then you have chaos. You're only as strong as your weakest link. In my case, our relationship was the weakest link and very nearly didn't survive.

I truly wish I had found this site before I married DH, because I would have gleaned a lot of valuable information before marriage. Like counseling and blended families and realistic expectations. I love DH but I regret marrying him when I did. I wish we had waited to get married and share a home until after his kid had graduated from HS.

lawyergirl06's picture

I think the statement should be not that your spouse comes first but that your relationship with the spouse comes first. The needs of your child may outweigh the needs of your spouse at times, but in all things your relationship has to come first, nuclear or otherwise. Kids are disrespectful to the spouse, that needs to be corrected immediately. Spouse feels overwhelmed because he/she is carrying the heavier load, step up and take your place next to them. I don't believe in placing your spouse above all others, but your relationship and its health has to come before the children. If you have a healthy relationship, a happy relationship, a committed relationship and an equal relationship, it will translate to everything else being easier. If your child being disrespectful of your spouse may hurt your relationshp with the child, improve it, but always be mindful of the relationship with your spouse as the primary because that is how you teach your child to pattern their own relationships down the road. If your relationshp is always first, you are able to work together to meet the needs and concerns of the children. Just my opinion of course.

herewegoagain's picture

The WANTS for the adults come first, the NEEDS for the kids come first. Mind you, I mean NEEDS, NOT wants. Sadly, it seems many think that the WANTS of the KIDS are the same as the NEEDS of the kids. Kids cannot defend themselves, provide for themselves, ie. until they are 18. After that, sorry, they are no longer kids. Before that, they want to see a movie, dad wants to go to dinner, too bad gets to choose. Kid is sick, dad wants to go on vacation, too bad dad, NEEDS come first.

Unfortunately, the NEEDS of the kids, ie. for their parents to be together and their happiness, it seems is irrelevant when BMs decide to divorce...their mental well-being is irrelevant, only the BMs...then, they want everyone to put the mental well-being of the kid first...sure...take a hike.

purpledaisies's picture

I think it has to do parents parenting their children and making sure they know that they are the kid and ot the adult. If parents instill that balance in their lives on a daily basis there wont be any issues. I grew up that way yes our needs were met and some of our wants but my parents made it clear we were the kids and not n adult. It has nothing to do who should be first or second but that kids are kids and adults are adults.

New second wife-step-mom's picture

**My therapist said most of the same things that is being said on this blog.

There are so many variables but in any marriage the marital relationship needs to be a priority because it is the basis for raising and nurturing "healthy" children. No matter who the children originally belonged to.

But it is still 2 totally different relationships and one SHOULD not have to compete with the other!

**Not that a therapist knows it all** Smile

Not_what_I_wanted's picture

Your child is your First Responsibility.

Your spouse is your First Priority.

There IS a happy medium in all relationships, however.

Yosemite's picture

This is always a hard spot to be in. Basically my ideals about this are, there should never be a time I have to choose between SO and my kids because I expect and demand that they treat each other with mutual respect. You know, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. SO should always treat my kids the way I myself would treat them and my kids should treat SO with courtesy and respect as I myself do. real life there have been things to be worked through. So we had to come up with rules. All kids in house are expected to treat adults in house with the same courtesy and respect as they would any adult authority figure (i.e. teacher) including obeying instructions unless to do so would put their safety at risk. If an adult asks them to do something they don't like, do it anyway unless it is unsafe, then let parent know so if necessary issue can be addressed. We generally back each other up or if needed work out new rules. If one of the kids does not listen to an adult who is not their bio parent, the adult will not to push it, leave it alone and kid will have hell to pay when bio parent gets home, unless there was a legitimate safety concern.
But at the end of the day, if push really came to shove, my kids are part of me and if a choice had to be made, so sorry to see you go, S.O.

not2sureimsaneanymore's picture

Ultimately I think it depends on who is right and who is wrong. What their motivation is, etc. in my determination of who "comes first."

If my kid was a complete jackass who had no regard for my spouse and treated them like crap and made their lives hell, I'd throw them out myself without having to have been asked by my spouse. Or I'd isolate them somehow if we all lived together. But I will never, ever stand for a child treating an adult poorly. The same goes for my spouse--if he treated the child badly then he'd be out.

This is, of course, after all discipline, communication, and other options have been pursued and failed. I will not, due to some misguided sense of familial love, allow an one person to harm another under my house and watch, emotionally or physically. That's all there is to it.