BARRINGTON (CBS 2) – What if you put your husband or wife before your kids? What if you made your marriage your top priority?

The author of a recent book says it’s time for kids to take a backseat on your priority list

“You know a lot of parents freak out when they hear this like ‘Oh my God, how could I possibly do that?'” says David Code, author of “To Raise Happy Kids, Put Your Marriage First.”

Code says an epidemic of troubled children is fueling myths.

“Number one by a mile is the more attention we give our kids the better they’ll turn out,” says Code. “These days it seems like parents are marrying their children instead of their spouses.”

CBS 2 went to the village of Barrington to test the theory on the Smith family. We asked them what they thought about the idea of putting their marriage before their children.

“I think it’s absurd from the point of feasibility,” said David Smith. “It might sound great in theory. But in practicality, I don’t know that I’d ever see that happening.”

Smith and his wife, Courtney, say their three kids keep them very busy.

There’s school, ballet, soccer, football, baseball, and only 24 hours in the day.
Still, Smith contends you shouldn’t have to choose between your spouse and your kids.

“I don’t know that it’s kids first either,” he said. “I think it’s family first.

“Because we’re so engaged with the kids, it allows us to bond when we’re at their activities or playing with them. It’s just different.”

But for other couples out there, Code says it’s too easy to forget the spouse altogether.

“We work longer hours; we retreat into our electronic screens,” says Code. “We shuttle our kids everywhere, we co-sleep with our kids. We throw ourselves into parenting.”

Code says kids sense when there’s tension between mom and dad. That’s why Courtney Smith says she sees the merit to a spouse-first philosophy.

“I think if you make an effort to stay connected and have a great relationship with your husband or wife that it does trickle down to how the kids are feeling.”

And, according to the marriage-first theory, when the parents are happy and secure, the kids are too.

The Smiths think they’ve found a pretty good balance. But David Code thinks there’s a real crisis out there. People are heaping so much attention on their kids, it’s harming them.

He says the best thing parents can do, is to create that intimate friendship with their spouse so there will less anxiety in the household.

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