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Which is more important: Marriage/Relationship or Children?

I've read many articles upon this debated topic; all of which opinions seem to be 50/50 upon which should take precedence. My boyfriend of 2 1/2 years has two children from a previous marriage that he hardly gets to see. A result from the combination of an ex that does everything she can to keep the children away from him and his job which requires him to work 12 hour shifts with rotating days off. My issue is the little time that I get to spend with him. Between his long work hours and the time that he spends with his children when he can, there isn't much time for us to spend together. It is very frustrating for me because when I try to plan things for us to do, or if his day off happens to fall on the same day that there is something going on (family event, holiday ect.), plans always fall through because it's the same old thing everytime, "I'll have the kids that day, so we can't." It is getting very old hearing this time and time again because he never is able to attend anything with me. I also feel terrible because I've started to feel resentment towards the children because of this and I feel that it is starting to affect our relationship as well. I want us to be a family together, but it seems like we're taking steps backwards from where we were. He's even made comments that we're all a family together, but yet why won't he do like a normal family does and we all attend events together regardless if we have the children with us or not. I've tried to talk to him and express my feelings about this, but it comes down to him saying that the children are his number one priority and I am second; the conversation never goes much farther than that. I admire and respect him for being such a loving and caring father, but when he tells me this, it really hurts. I feel that a relationship/marriage takes priority over your children; you do what's best for the children and their best interests are in having a happy and healthy relationship between the parents. The thing is, we have a growing relationship that still needs work and nuturing, not left on the back burner to be forgotten about. All of this is very straining on a young relationship and makes everything ten times harder. I feel very unhappy about all of this and I really don't know what to do. I realize he can't put me on a pedestal, and I don't expect him to; but I do wish he would make me feel just as important to him as the children are. So what takes prevelance: A relationship/marriage or children?
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replied March 27th, 2013
Extremely eHealthy

I understand your frustration and it is a bit of a chicken-and-egg situation. The right answer won't sound right and it is unlikely to satisfy you.

They do say if life gives you lemons then make lemonade but in your case I think you are stuck with lemons.

Your boyfriend is on a treadmill of work and children. You already said his ex does all she can to keep them apart so your boyfriend is probably scared as well as overworked and jaded. Give the ex any excuse and she will cause him trouble that he hasn't the time or energy to cope with.

Turning up for the children with a girlfriend in tow or having the children talking of daddy's family life to their mother is likely to be what he fears will be the catalyst to such trouble with a capital "T".

Ideally you are right and you should all be off doing things with his children and it would all be part of nurturing your relationship - but ex's can be extremely vindictive and unpredictable and mothers very choosy about who has influences over their children. The assumption is usually there is something unwholesome about kids being in company with daddy's fancy woman...

I hope you get the picture?
Try putting yourself in her place.

Your boyfriend probably feels he is between a rock and a hard place. He probably needs your continuing support and company but he doesn't need aggravation from his ex.
The situation isn't likely to change anytime soon so it is time the two of you talked seriously.
It might break down his reluctance to be controversial if you assumed what I have put forward as my best guess is the truth and suggest you go and have a woman-to-woman chat with his ex to discover her attitude in the matter; not that you really would of course...

Good luck!
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replied March 28th, 2013
Community Volunteer
Hi GniessOrogeny ....I think he has already told you that you are #2...This will not change...I look at it this way, when you start out as #2, there is no other way to go...You should be at least on the same level...My best to you....

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replied March 30th, 2013
Thank you both for your insight. My thing with trying to talk to him is that I don't want to sound like a broken record. We all know how that goes and after you hear the same thing over and over again, you just get aggravated and quit listening. I really don't know what to say or even how to apporoach him with the situation anymore. How could I go about it?
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replied April 1st, 2013

I think that the question of whether your wife or children take precedence is a trick question. It is a question that should never be asked, just as much as a son asking whether you love him more or his sister. It is also a selfish question that a selfish husband would make his wife ask.

The truth of the matter is that you are all a family. The fact that your the only one asking the question is selfish behavior on your BF's behalf. You're suppose to be a family, and ALL of you should be of equal importance.

Some people may believe that your children should get more attention. But if your relationship is damaged and feels threated, what will then happen to your children. You need to take care of the tree which produces the fruit if you want to eat, right.

Your bf saying that his children come first isn't right. What bothers me even more, is that he really doesn't sound like he wants to deal, yet even acknowledges the issue at hand. It seems like its all about him. His work, His children, and your just on the side. he doesn't treat you like a family.

Where you've made a sacrifice to be with him, and you've compromised on an ideal relationship to deal with his baggage, it doesn't seem like there is any compromise on his part.

I think the biggest issue is that he isn't making an effort to cater to you, and to acknowledge your problems in this "family". At this point I would re-evaluate if he will ever deal and listen to your side of the story and make an effort to help you, or if you should consider moving on to someone who can treat you like a wife.
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