OK to Love Kids More Than Mate?
Q: I've had two children within the past three years, and they're causing me to question my marriage. What should I do? I had a tough childhood and didn't really know what love was. Now, when I look at my kids, I know. My husband is great, but I just don't feel for him anything like what I feel for my babies. I'm beginning to think I never really loved him. I was just lonely and he was someone who could be there for me. I don't want to be with anyone else, but I know it seems like our marriage is based on something that isn't true. Should I tell him any of this or keep it to myself? — Kendra, 24
Dr. Susan: This kind of passing feeling isn't necessarily something you need to share with your husband. It might help you to know that what you feel for your babies is pretty much universal: an overwhelming love like nothing else you've ever experienced. It's a different kind of love than what you have felt for your husband, than what most of us feel for our mates. It's also different from what you may come to feel for him over the coming years. It's normal to question your feelings, but please don't take them as the be-all end-all of your relationship. Our feelings for our spouses change constantly, especially after the first two or three years. There's no need to keep examining those feelings, wondering if what you're feeling at any one point in time is "real." Focus on what's working in your marriage, enjoy your kids while they're still small, and don't blame your husband for not being as adorable as a toddler.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.