I happened to read this article by Ayelet Waldman today. The article isn’t new (it was published back in 2005) nor is the argument really but it is one that fascinates me. In her article, Waldman reveals the fact that she loves her husband more than she loves her children. (Her husband, for all you book nerds out there, is author Michael Chabon.) She reveals this fact as something a little bit shameful, something best kept secret. And she was widely criticized for declaring her greater love for her husband. Apparently, when she was invited to appear on the Oprah Winfrey show, audience members yelled and jeered at her. This seems so weird to me.
Okay, so I don’t have kids. I have no idea what it is to love a child that is your own, that you carried in your body for 9+ months, that depends on you for everything, that you spend most of your time with. I understand that mothers (particularly new mothers) spend more time with their children than they do their husbands. I have no doubt that it’s amazing and I hope to experience all that myself one day.
But I agree with Waldman. I think she should love her husband more than her children and I applaud her for saying so. I can’t say I agree with everything she states in her article and I am by no means agreeing with every choice she’s made (I really don’t know very much about her beyond this article) but I think she’s right about this.
I think the distinction she makes is important – she says she loves her children, but she’s in love with her husband. Her husband maintains that number one position in her life. Now, I firmly believe that the number one position in my life belongs to Jesus Christ. So when Waldman talks about how her life would fall apart should her husband die, I can definitely sympathize but I know my life is built on something stronger than my marriage and my husband (no matter how great both may be.) That’s an important distinction between what Waldman believes and I believe. That said, my husband comes first, before my friends and family. In no way does that diminish the love I have for the other people in my life. I knew my parents and my brother way before I ever knew Peter existed and I love them dearly. I treasure the friendships I had before I started dating my husband and the way I feel about them hasn’t changed since I started wearing a ring on my finger. But when it comes right down to it, Peter’s the only one I’ve sworn to spend the rest of my life with. I won’t make that promise to my children, nor should I. Hopefully, they will one day go on to live independent lives from me. (It’s weird to talk about my hypothetical children’s hypothetical futures.)
Reading this article, I pondered what my own mother might think. I’m inclined to think she’d agree with me (perhaps this is the first place I learned to have this opinion!) My parents will celebrate their 37th wedding anniversary this year. Only 21 of those years have been spent with children living under their roof. Yes, 21 years is a long time but, God willing, they’ll have more years together in the future. The point is, your marriage is what you have when your kids have left home, when they’re starting relationships and families of their own. My parents always made it clear that their marriage was a priority and it set in motion strong relationships for both my brother and I. Granted, I’ve been married barely a year and a half so I’m not setting myself up as some sort of marriage expert. I simply hope that when I have children I’m able to both love them with all my heart and love their father even more deeply.
What do you all think? I’m curious about whether any mothers out there agree with me or not? Do you think I’ll change my mind once I have children? Are the two loves even comparable?