Matthew Warner over at Fallible Blogma has a good post that I just saw today on The most important thing a father can do. He starts by quoting Fr. Theodore Hesburgh:

“The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother”

He then adds

That is why your marriage and your love for each other is the most important thing you can focus on. For a married person, it’s your first vocation in life. It comes even before loving your kids.

This struck me, as I’ve often heard people – even those in good relationships – claim they love their children more than anyone else, including their spouse.

I, for one, agree with Fr. Theodore and Matthew.

Do you agree? How do you / would you / should you react to someone who says the kids are #1?

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20 Responses to Who do you love more: your wife or your kids?

  1. Ben Trovato says:

    I agree; The correct order is:




    One of the reasons for this is that you can only love your spouse because of God, and you can only love your kids because of your spouse.

    Another is that if you love your spouse less than your children, you are shortchanging your spouse and your kids.

    You have promised your God, your spouse and the community, at your wedding, to love your spouse till death, and have a responsibility to honour that promise.

    You risk spoiling your kids – quite literally ruining them – if you do not love your spouse first (after God).


  2. Rob Kaiser says:

    I am with you and Ben 100%.

    I don't know how to deal with those who have a different order other than to discuss the logic (see Ben). I have even seen people put kids or "family" above God when forced to choose. Catechists even. It seems to be a disorder when we hold and treat our children in this way.

  3. Chad Myers says:

    This sounds a lot like the question: "Who do you love more, the Father, the Son, or the Holy Spirit?" I could make arguments for all three, but what's the point?

    Or the Protestant argument that by loving Mary we somehow detract from the love of Christ. Can't we love both immeasurably? Why does loving one necessitate not loving the other (or loving them as much)?

  4. Rob Kaiser says:

    I don't think so Chad. There is a difference between loving your kids and loving your wife, and we definitely need to love Christ above both (Mt 10:37-39). Paul, and the Church acknowledge legitimate dissolution of marriage when a person converts to Christianity and the spouse rejects them (1 Cor 7:15; Canons 1143-1144). So clearly Christ and even conversion to the Church comes before love of spouse.

    Marriage is a divine calling. We are to love our spouses as our pwn bodies – and this is a freely given love. The love of children is necessarily less. First, the love is not to the level of one's own body – the complete and total giving of oneself to another in all aspects. That is marital love, but it is not the love of children. Second, the child did not choose the parent, nor the parent the child – the relationship is a gift, but there was not a choosing of the person.

    Finally, love of Mary is absolutely and necessarily less than our love of God. We love her as the first among all creatures, but she is like the moon that reflects the light of the sun. It is not only reasonable to talk about levels of love, it is necessary so that we can rightly order our relationships – to God, spouse, children and other people.

  5. Ben Trovato says:

    I was discussing this with Ant, my eldest daughter, who was arguing much as Chad was; but then she remembered a friend who for love of her fiance (who was not free to marry in a Catholic Church) left the Church so that they could get married…

    This helped her to realise that this is not an academic argument: if we put the love of any creature, even Our Lady, above the love of God, we have fallen into folly, and probably sin.

    The theologians make a distinction between Latria, the adoration and sacrificial worship which is offered to God alone, and Dullia, the honour we offer the saints. We offer Our Lady Hyper-Dullia – way above the saints, but quite different from the Latria we offer to God.

    This is something Protestants don't get, which is why they find our honouring the saints – and particularly Our Lady – so scandalous.

  6. Tim Burke says:

    A very wise nun told me and my wife, "Marriage in the Catholic Church is a Sacrament. Parenthood is not." So, absolutely, love of spouse should be ahead of love of children.

  7. Jay says:

    What I was always taught is that you actually do your kids a disservice if you do not love their mother more than them and show them that all the time. Kids will see that love that cannot be faked and thereby will show your spouse the same love and respect that you do. If you are constantly berating your spouse and showing your kids love, they will begin to show your spouse the same disrespect you show.

    And as for Chad's comment, we do love our children and our wives completely – or at least we should. Similarly, we love our parents, our friends, and even things around us. I love ice cream. I also love God. However, if God asked me to give up ice cream, as hard as it would be, it is done. Similarly, if I would have to choose between my wife and children for some reason, I would choose my wife.

  8. Tony says:

    If your children are #1, odds are good that you'll lose #2. Most likely when that last child is out of the house.

  9. Great responses! I really like Tim's quote from the wise nun. I plan to use that in future conversations. I think Tony's observation may prove prescient for many.

  10. You and your spouse are one flesh, intended to stay together your whole lives.

    This is not true of your relationship with your children.

  11. kkollwitz says:

    I have on occasion reminded my 5 kids that I love my wife first and most, and explained why. It was a good thing for them to understand. The oldest is now married with two young kids, and they have held onto the idea of caring for the marriage, and then the kids, as far as I can tell.

    It was the same with my parents. They didn't say it to us explicitly, but it was clear that they loved each other first, and then us kids. I grew up thinking it was normal, and I felt perfectly secure as their child. Seeing them be husband & wife as distinct from mother & father gave me a good model to follow in my own life.

  12. First, thanks to Jason for the link/post! It's definitely one of my favorite quotes.

    Second, I think the answer to Chad's totally legit question is in the original quote itself. The truth is that the very best way to love your kids is to love their mother first. When you love their mother first, you aren't choosing her over the kids. You're choosing to love your kids in the most powerful way possible: through your marriage. And by providing them with what they MOST need – not your friendship or personal relationship or attention – but with a stable family held together by a strong, loving marriage.

    Same works for our love of God. Loving God first is the very best way to love your wife.

    Great thoughts from everyone! Thanks for sharing!

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  15. Stefany says:

    I'm assuming most of the people commenting on this are men, and you have not carried life within yourself, or birthed a child ( with no pain medication), and/ or witnessed the miracle of life first hand. The love you have from your children is different from the love you have for your spouse. Spoiled? From too much love? It is all in how you raise your child and teach them between right and wrong. Clearly you were not loved enough and your inadequacy is the reason why you are looking for love from your god. Children are our future. Take your bible quotes and put them where the sun doesn't shine, a church is a business real faith comes from your heart, not a book written by people drilled into your brainwashed heads by your religious leaders.

    • Shaikh says:

      As a man I believe ITS most practical for men to put their kids FIRST! Since wives generally do that and inputting the kids FIRST a man will also have more things in common with his wife especially in terms of family priority and more of a better relationship with her.

  16. john says:

    This one is a piece of cake, read t the book of Job for the answer. God took everything of value from Job. God did not take Job's wife. Obviously a wife has no value. Now when it came to making Job whole, God gave Job even more cattle and brought his friends and family back to life, except children. Children are fungible, God simply gave him new ones.

  17. Shaikh says:

    You know as a man saying this all you men who love your wives more than your kids are such big time idiots beyond words to describe! You morons don't you know that your wives most likely don't love you best???? Why don't you love the kids more than her, in fact more likely she will like that rather than you putting her first IDIOTS!

    In fact she could LOVE YOU MORE THAN BEFORE for just doing that. I swear all of you guys are SUCH BUTTHEADED POTATO HEADS!!!

  18. Kaitlyn says:

    This makes me not want to have children. I don't want my husband loving something more than me, I don't mean to be selfish, but I can't bear the thought. If he loved our children more than me I would leave him…

  19. Erin says:

    I can see why religiosity is declining in this country…what gall to proclaim the correct heirarchy for loving various people in your life. Who is the Church to tell me who I ought to love more? Personally, I can no more choose whom I love more than I can choose my sexual orientation or skin color. It is automatic and I cannot shape it to conform to someone else's ideal. It is a private and personal though process that leads to each person's individual "love ladder" and we cannot presume to know all the factors that go into the creation of the feeling called love.

    I think people who take strong positions on this issue — in either direction — need to take stock of their own neuroses and insecurities before they go about judging others.

    If my neighbor to the east loves his wife more than his children, who am I to say that is wrong? If my neighbor to the west loves her children more than her husband, who am I to say that is wrong? If neighbor to the south loves her dogs more than her husband or her children, who am I to say she is a bad person so long as she takes care of her family?

    Get a grip. I would never ask my husband whom he loves more. I do not care. As long as his actions are good, he is entitled to have his own private thoughts and emotions without judgment from me.