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Today, we are surrounded by “experts” who tell us that we are to focus on our children first. That for proper emotional and physical development, we are to place them above anything else in our lives. Sadly, that is not only not biblical, but can be harmful to both your husband and child. How so?
When we put our husbands first, we provide a secure foundation for our marriages and model strong biblically founded marriages for our children.
When we put our children before our husbands, we teach them to be self-centered and can, inadvertenly, make our husbands feel insignificant, or even resentful.
The Bible tells us that we are to put God first
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. – Matthew 6:33 (NIV)
Our husbands second
If you are a wife, you must put your husband first. Even if he opposes our message, you will win him over by what you do. No one else will have to say anything to him, 2 because he will see how you honor God and live a pure life. – 1 Peter 3 (CEV)
Everything else, including children, after that.
“I will make your pains in childbearing very severe;
with painful labor you will give birth to children.
Your desire will be for your husband,
and he will rule over you.” – Genesis 3:16 (ESV)
So, in a life of work, chores, parenting and church, how do we put our husbands first, yet still lovingly parent our children?
What does this look like when you are buried under piles of laundry, with a sink full of dishes, soccer practices to run to and work, church and other obligations?
Here are some great ways to put your husbands first (after God, of course!) in a world with competing demands for your time and heart.
12 Ways to Put Your Husband First
Let him take the lead in parenting
In many homes, mothers are mainly responsible for the daily child raising and care duties. We birthed them and are usually the ones who spend most of the time with the children. This often leads us to conclude that we know what is best for our kids.
We talk to other moms about breastfeeding, which diapers don’t leak, how to limit screen time and so much more. We may even read books on parenting and hear the advice of the pediatrician on sleep schedules.
And, while, we may spend more time with our children and be more up-to-date on trends in childrearing, we are still to follow God’s command in regard to submitting to our husbands in ALL THINGS.
Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. – Ephesians 5:22 (NIV)
Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. – Colossians 3:18 (NIV
These verse are clear. We are to submit to our husbands in everything, including parenting.
Unless our husband is asking us to sin, we are to submit to him in every area of our lives.
I’m not saying that you need to ask him if you should feed the child and apple or an orange, but when it comes to co-sleeping, discipline and the more general aspects of parenting, discuss each with your husband and then let him make the final decision, after you have shared your perspective.
You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts – 2 Corinthians 3:2-3 (NIV)
Let him guide your priorities
This one was a big one for me. I am a typical Type A personality with a long list of things to do and a certain way that I like to do them. I put added stress on myself thinking that the house had to be perfect, a gourmet meal on the table seven nights per week, and no dishes in the sink – ever. I thought that my husband expected these things. After talking with him, I learned that my priorities didn’t match his. Instead, while he did want me to cook dinner most nights, he didn’t expect anything fancy or for me to even cook EVERY night. What was important to him was that I had energy and time left for him.
Write down your list of expectations and discuss them with your husband. You may find that he would rank them differently than you!
Be sure you know the condition of your flocks,
give careful attention to your herds; – Proverbs 27:23 (NIV)
Date Your Husband
If you’ve read my book, The God Centered Marriage or have spent any time on my blog, you know that I am a big proponent of dating your husband. I’ve written about it and have given many examples of how to date your husband.
Why is this important? Many of us get complacent after years (or even just months) of marriage. Looking and acting your best help to make your husband feel special – that you are doing it for him.
Additionally, setting aside time for just each other keeps the focus on your marriage and gives you time to just be a couple (as opposed to mom, dad, daughter, co-worker, etc.).
That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. – Genesis 2:24 (NIV)
Greet him when he comes home from work in a special way.
I’m not saying that you need balloons and confetti every night when he comes home.
When I worked out of the home, it literally made me crazy when I would get bombarded upon walking in the door. “Mom!”, “honey”, etc. I needed a few minutes to get my coat off, look at the mail and get my thoughts together.
Husbands often feel the same stress level when returning from work. Greet him with a hug or kiss and give him a few minutes to decompress. All day he dealt with the demands of work and having to deal with the demands at home immediately upon walking in can add stress to his day.
Let the kids greet him, but then have them give daddy a few minutes.
Take a moment to straighten up the house and clean yourself up, if necessary.
I work from home, many days in my pajamas, but I try to get dressed and at least look presentable when my husband comes home.
These small acts can demonstrate love to your husband after a long day of work.
Greet one another with a kiss of love.
Peace to all of you who are in Christ. – 1 Peter 5:14 (NIV)
Teach your children to honor and respect their father
With parenting, like most things, we lead by example. When you honor and respect your husband, your children learn to respect and honor him.
Children have a tendency to be self-centered and think that the world (or at least your world) revolves around them. In a kind, loving and gentle way, let them know that it doesn’t.
Teach them that God comes first, their spouse second (when they have one) and everything else, including children, next.
Have fun with your kids coming up with ways to show love to daddy and to bless him.
“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” – Exodus 20:12 (NIV)
Study your husband
Make an effort to learn everything you can about your husband. Learn his likes and dislikes. If you learn that he loves 80’s sitcoms, get some on DVD or find them on Netflix and make a movie night out of it.
If you learn that he has always loved Kraft Mac and cheese with meatloaf, surprise him with his favorite meal.
You might even learn that the chicken dish you love to make isn’t one of his favorites. In that case, as much as you like it, remove it from your meal plan.
By going the extra mile to learn your husbands likes and dislikes, you can bless him and show him how important he is to you. He will feel that love and respect.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. – John 13:34 (NIV)
Make sex a priority
In my post on 7 Tips When You Aren’t in the Mood, I wrote that “Sex is a gift from God that allows us to have physical and emotional intimacy with our spouse. It is a time to recharge our marital batteries, so to speak, and reconnect with our beloved.” and in my book, The God Centered Marriage, I cover how God designed men and women to be different, yet complementary.
Men often crave sex more than women. They need it to feel loved and honored. Women, crave touch, more than sex (not in all cases, but usually).
When you make sex a priority, you are putting your husband first and demonstrating that his needs are important to you.
Initiate sex and don’t rebuff him when he initiates – even if you aren’t in the mood. Connecting intimately more frequently will bless your marriage more than you may realize.
Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. – 1 Corinthians 7:5 (NIV)
Ask for his opinion
Not just in parenting, as mentioned above, but in all things. We tend, as women, to know what we want and have our own agendas (as well as strong opinions on matters). Ask your husband for his opinion on what you should wear to the church dinner or how to handle the issue with your friend. It will show him that you value his opinion and that you respect his role as leader of your home.
The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice. – Proverbs 12:15 (ESV)
Take an interest in him, his struggles and his hobbies and interests
When you meet someone new, few things make the person feel more welcomed and important than showing an interest in them. This is no different in a marriage. When you show interest in your husband’s work, hobbies and even his struggles, it communicates to him that you are interested in what is important to him.
I’m not saying you have to take up every hobby that he does, but, if he loves golf, ask about how he did or arrange a lesson with a golf pro.
Ask about work and listen, so that you can talk with him about his day.
not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. – Philippians 2:4 (NIV)
Rest when you can so you can give him your best
I know that I’ll get some backlash on this one, but I believe that if you are not at your best, you can’t give your best. If you are well-rested and take care of yourself, you’ll have more of you to give to others, especially your husband.
For my husband, this is important to him, and, I suspect, other husbands would agree. If you are constantly exhausted, you won’t feel up to putting your husband first in all of the other areas.
What can you do to take care of yourself and rest to ensure that you are giving the best of you to your husband?
In vain you rise early
and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat—
for he grants sleep to those he loves. – Psalm 127:2 (NIV)
Let him know you are thinking of him
I get it. We’re busy, but an investment of a few minutes will reap incredible rewards in your marriage. Send your husband a love note via text or leave a note in his briefcase or lunchbox.
Call him (if he can take calls at work) to let him know that you are thinking of him. This simple gesture shows that you put your husband first and make him feel so blessed.
My husband and I have a piece of paper that says ILYM (I love you more). We leave it for each other in fun places. When I find it after my husband has hidden it, it’s my turn to hide it. Sometimes it takes awhile to find and that makes the surprise even sweeter.
How can you let your husband know you are thinking of him?
Gracious words are a honeycomb,
sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. – Proverbs 16:24 (NIV)
Never stop learning and thinking of new ways to be a better wife to your husband
Read books on biblical marriage. Study your husband, as discussed above. Brainstorm with other Christian wives and even your mother-in-law to learn how to put your husband first.
Marriage is an ever-growing, ever-evolving living thing. We change as we get older and as our marriages become more seasoned. At each stage, you’ll learn new ways to put your husband first and how his likes, dislikes and maybe even temperament have changed. Never stop learning how you can be a better helpmate to your spouse.
The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” – Genesis 2:18 (NIV)
One additional way to put your husband first is to take time to be a couple. Here’s a great guest post on the importance of getting away with your spouse.
When You Put Your Children Before Your Husband
Conversely, when you relegate your husband to a lower priority and, instead, put your children before him, the family structure is skewed.
By putting your children before your husband:
- They become self-centered
- Your husband may feel insignificant, unappreciated, not seen, or even resentful
- You are not following biblical commands for the family structure
- It confuses children as to the biblical model of marriage and family
- You may lose some of the connection with your husband. When the kids leave the nest, you have to relearn each other.
Now, please don’t mistake my meaning here. I am not saying that children are not important, but our priorities, according to the Bible are: God, Husband and then everything else, including children.
As we raise our children, we need to ensure that our marriages remain a priority and continue to invest in them. When you put your husband first, it not only strengthens the foundation of your marriage, but ensures the well being of our children and the peace and joy in our homes.
What would you add to the ways to put your husband first in your Christian marriage?
What other Bible verses about putting your husband first come to mind? I’d love hear from you!
For what the Bible says on the family chain of command, see this post.
For more on Christian marriage, consider these top recommended books on Christian marriage.
Because of Him,
Friday 12th of February 2021
Thank you, this is good and correct. You do not need to post this. I am sure you can word it better. .
May I add, when you put God first, and dwell, (spend time) in His Holy words, it will give you more love, kindness, grace, patience and wisdom in caring for others. But. It does NOT mean that you can justify putting off or neglecting or set aside husband or children or others, just because you say you are giving God first place. Or it is your God alone time. God see's and knows if you are truly serving Him, even if, for example, it means you had no time that day to read because you were i interrupted by a colicky baby or a sick or ailing husband etc. But you can still, serve God first by your actions. And dwell in Him by singing His praises in Hymns and meditating on His life and words. All while you work or serve others, and even while you walk the floor with the baby or drive to the school or care home, as the case may be. You can word it better, if you catch my drift. ? What i feel is that some may say they dont have time for others because they are busy reading the word of God. And He is first. Or may say they have no time to keep the house presentable (i didn't say immaculate, just decent.) because they are busy with God. Is that truth or....maybe deceitful excuse? Need to search our hearts, that all we do is right Before His eyes. And balanced. Which is I'm sure exactly what you meant, Sue. Just saying this for others. I have lots of time to read and study and pray, in this season of my life. But I did not , so much, when my babes were tiny. So sympathetic to young moms! And back then a most wise godly man said, you can meditate on His works and the Cross while you rock your baby. And I found if you sing them hymns, they will love it. And even if you aren't a good singer, they won't care. 😊 Just remember its mostly for Him and His ears not for earthlings. 🌞
Thursday 28th of November 2019
Great article, biblical truth God bless sister.
Monday 4th of November 2019
If you marry someone who already has children will you have to accept second place or how does that play out? I thought it was God spouse and children . Does this take place in a second marriage? I guess I’m fearing I’ll never be important . Please advice. Thanks.
Tuesday 5th of November 2019
The spouse always comes second to God and before everyone else. That is biblical. If you feel that way, you might want to talk with your pastor or a Christian counselor - possibly with your husband. I'll be praying for you!
Monday 8th of April 2019
Hi there sue ! Please email me i am struggling quite alot abd really need some help and advice
Sunday 7th of April 2019
Please research toxic marriages. Much of your advice is very helpful in normal healthy marriages but it can be very unhealthy advice for those in toxic marriages. Please put a disclaimer in your article. Thank you. Much love and God bless yo