Where Does Parental Love Fit In A Healthy Marriage

Updated October 8, 2022 by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Parental love and marriage can impact each other in a couple of different ways. The first is the love that your parent has for you. The second is the love you have for your children. Both of these kinds can have a positive or negative effect on your marriage. If you want to have a healthy marriage, you are going to need to keep parental love in check.

Your Parents And Your Marriage

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Parents have a special parental love for their children. This parental love can make it difficult to let go as a child grows, matures, and starts a new life, with relationships of their own. If your parents had a healthy marriage, they helped provide you with a good example of what to follow and showed you familial love as well. However, you could still run into problems. Some parents have a hard time letting go of their children. It might be that they don’t like the person you are marrying, and worry their parental love will be impacted by your new relationship. Or, it just might be that their identity is wrapped up in being “mommy” or “daddy” to their child, making it hard to see you put another person above them in the rankings.

Set Boundaries With Your Parents

Parents that don’t “cut the cord” when their child leaves the house and gets married can make it very difficult for them to have a healthy marriage, or feel healthy parental love. That is why it’s important for you to set boundaries. You have probably heard all the “mother-in-law jokes” that float around society. While it’s easy to laugh at them, it’s also important to remember that the joke is based, loosely, on what many people experience. When you are married, it’s your job to set appropriate expectations regarding your parents’ involvement in this new life of yours, especially if they are not respecting your spouse and marriage.

Many parents want to be able to keep having control over their adult child and how they spend their time. The holidays are always a great example of this. Typically, each set of parents wants to see their child for the holiday. If there are no boundaries set, you and your spouse will spend the entire holiday traveling from house to house to make sure you see everyone. This will quickly tire you out and frustrate you and your spouse, especially if only one set of parents is being demanded.

Your Spouse Needs To Come Before Your Parents

When you are married, your spouse needs to start coming before your parents. You are an adult, and the relationship that you have with your parents needs to change. While this seems like common sense, many people are not choosing their spouse over their parent(s). It might not seem like a big deal to take the advice of your mom over your husband when choosing furniture, but you need to remember whose house the furniture is going in and whose money is buying it. These types of actions can slowly start to put a wedge between spouses. Your spouse wants you to value their opinion.

Tips For Handling Your Parents

If you find that you are struggling with your parents’ love having a negative impact on your marriage or other aspects of your life, it’s time to take action. Here are some things that you can try to put their parental love in check and build a healthy marriage.

Set boundaries for communication

  • If your parent is used to calling you multiple times a day, work on setting limits. The longer you are on the phone with your parent the less time you have to spend with your spouse.

Don’t discuss the details of your finances

  • If you are married, you and your spouse should be handling your finances. 

Agree with what advice you ask for

  • Then, you need to respect your spouse’s opinion and not talk behind their backs. When you ask for advice, you are inviting them into your relationship.

Watch what is said

  • Do not stand for your parent insulting your spouse. This is a fast way to undermine marriage, even before it starts. If your parent is in the habit of saying things they shouldn’t make sure to put a stop to it.

Set Boundaries With Your Children

Setting boundaries with children is an area that many parents, especially mothers, struggle with. It is also a topic that many get a little heated and worked up about. That makes it very easy to get offended if you feel someone is telling you that you should be doing something different with your child. But, here’s the truth-if you are putting your children before your spouse you will struggle to have a healthy marriage.

Your marriage started because you put your spouse before all other people. However, whenever the first child comes along, it’s no longer that simple. There is a tiny person that is depending on you both for their survival. It’s a lot of pressure. Many parents also experience an overwhelming flood of love when they meet their child for the first time. If they aren’t careful, it’s easy to move your child into the number one spot in your life, especially because you spend so much of your time doing things for them and with them.

Parental love is strong. It is easy to get caught up in parental love and set your marriage aside thinking you can focus on it again when the kids have left the house. But, if you take this approach, you may not have a marriage to focus on by the time the children are grown.

Your Spouse Needs To Come First Before Your Children

Your spouse needs to come first, even before your children. This doesn’t mean you don’t love your children or take care of them or provide for them; it just means that your spouse should not be an afterthought while you run around taking care of the children day in and day out.

While you may now be a mom or dad, don’t forget that before that, you were a wife or husband. Make sure that you make time for your spouse. Continue to go out on dates. Many new parents struggle with the idea of leaving the child at home with a sitter. Rest assured that as long as you carefully choose a babysitter, you have nothing to worry about. In fact, there is a piece of advice that many new parents find helpful-leave your baby with a sitter for at least 30 minutes at least one time during the first two weeks after they are born. This will provide you with the reassurance that you need early on- that your child will be just fine with a babysitter.

Your Healthy Marriage Is Important To Your Kids

It’s important that you set a good example for your children. To do this, you need to show them what a healthy marriage looks like. Not only does this show them how to develop healthy relationships as an adult, but when they know that your marriage is good, it helps them to feel secure in their family life.

In the article Putting Your Spouse Before Your Kids, Dr. Gary and Barb Rosberg wrote, ” When the parental team breaks down, children become the biggest losers. They lose their family, which is where they build their sense of security. When children don’t feel secure, their whole world seems to unravel. No amount of baseball, dance, piano lessons or toys can make up for that kind of loss.”

Tips For Handling Your Children

Setting the right boundaries with your child can be difficult, but it’s important to do for a healthy marriage and to set a good example. 

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  • Continue to date each other. Parental love can make you want to devote all your time to your child, but your spouse needs to know they matter as well. Continue to show them that you enjoy their company by keeping a regular date night. Many experts recommend once a week, but even if all you can do is once a month make sure it happens.
  • Teach your children to respect your spouse. Do not complain about your spouse to your child. This includes things like making sure your child doesn’t interrupt your conversation when you are talking with your spouse.
  • Do not undermine your spouse in front of your child. It’s important to back up your spouse in front of your children. This shows your spouse respect and teaches your child to do the same. It’s important that you portray yourself as a parenting team to your children.

Setting boundaries with your children are good for your marriage and good for your children. There may be times when it feels like you shouldn’t because the strong bonds of parental love, but setting boundaries doesn’t mean you don’t love your children. In fact, it means you love them enough to do what is best for them in the future and not just at the moment.

Sometimes You Need Outside Help

If you have struggled with finding the balance of parental love and healthy marriage in the past it can be helpful to talk to a professional, like the therapists at BetterHelp. They can help you work on finding the proper balance between the two and offer you support and professional advice along the way. It can be an overwhelming and stressful process, especially when you first get started.

For Additional Help & Support With Your Concerns

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