RelationshipsMarriageShould You Prioritize Your Partner Over Family?

Should you prioritize your partner over family

Should You Prioritize Your Partner Over Family?

There is nothing more important than family in your life. This rings true for both the parents you grew up with and the new one that you are creating with your partner. As soon as you enter a relationship one of the first things that pop into your mind is whether you should prioritize your partner over your family? This question has been at the forefront of couples’ minds across all cultures across the globe for centuries.

The great tug-of-war between your partner and your family can be straining. Things get even murkier when you get married and have children- the question becomes even more difficult to answer. However, according to modern relationship experts and psychologists, the answer to the question is very clear- no matter what, your partner always comes first! So let’s see how you can balance the life between your partner and your family.

The Importance of Interpersonal Relationships

The Importance of Interpersonal Relationships
The Importance of Interpersonal Relationships

When we’re born, the first few years of our lives are spent under the care and supervision of our parents. Once we get older and start going to school, suddenly the number of interpersonal relationships that have to be maintained goes up like crazy. Friends, teachers, acquaintances, the bus lady, the neighbor’s dog- all of these suddenly take priority alongside parents and siblings.

But even at this stage maintaining the different social relationships isn’t that difficult until you turn 18, become an adult, and become responsible for your life. More people are introduced to your life like colleagues, roommates, bosses, acquaintances, and more. It’s also around this time most people get involved in their first serious relationship (middle school and high school romances barely count).

Also, at this point the importance and priority of interpersonal romances suddenly becomes important. There is a reason you fell for your significant other over billions of people on Earth, so you definitely want the relationship to last. This means prioritizing your romantic partner over other interpersonal relationships.

If you have a strong bond with your parents, it’s at this point the dilemma starts- should I spend the vacation with him/her or should I pay my parents a visit whom I barely see a couple of times a year? If you two eventually end up getting married, then things become even more complicated when children are thrown into the mix.

Tackling all these interpersonal relationship dynamics can get really out of hand if you’re a social butterfly, so it’s important you focus your time and energy on a handful of people- your immediate family members including your parents, siblings, children, and most importantly, your significant other.

Should You Prioritize Your Partner Over Your Family?

Whether you should prioritize your parents or your significant other is a very nuanced question that covers a broad spectrum. Usually, when you’re dating and things don’t look permanent, a lot of couples make the mistake of prioritizing their social and family life over their significant other. It’s less of a mistake and more of a knee-jerk reaction, to be honest.

After all, your family and friends have been around you and supporting you for years compared to the guy/girl you’ve been dating for a few months. If it’s just a casual fling, then feel free to make them your secondary priority. But if you’re serious about the person you’re dating, then he/she has to be your top priority in life.

For simplicity’s sake, let’s divide the question into two categories depending on the marital status:

  • Should an Unmarried Partner be Prioritized Over Your Family? – YES
  • Should a Married Partner Be Prioritized Over Your Family? – YES

To explain it properly we’ll have to delve a little deeper into both these questions.

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Importance of Prioritizing an Unmarried Partner Over Your Family

Importance of prioritizing an unmarried partner over your family
Importance of prioritizing an unmarried partner over your family

In an ideal normal family, since your parents gave birth to you, nurtured you, and gave you the best life they could afford, it’s only natural that you love them more than anything else in the world, that is until you meet your romantic partner. There is such a vast difference between romantic love and familial love that the two can’t even be compared.

Harsh as it may sound, your parents won’t be there for you forever. They’ll eventually pass away one day and you’ll have to cope with the fact. But the person you chose to fall in love and be with will likely stay by your side until the very end if you treat them right. So it’s only logical and natural that you should prioritize your romantic partner over your parents and siblings though it might seem counter-intuitive.

Just because you’re prioritizing your partner over your family doesn’t mean that your family takes a backseat. You’ll still communicate with them, meet up with them, attend family events, etc. It’s just that you’ll be doing them with less frequency. Besides, with the internet and modern technology at your fingertips, communicating with your family while in a relationship has never been easier.

There are a couple of very important reasons why prioritizing your unmarried partner over family is important:

Strengthening the Bond of Your Relationship

When you’re dating or romantically engaged with someone, both parties are unsure of each other’s true priorities as mutual attraction is the starting point. It’s the responsibility of both partners in a relationship to ensure that their significant other bonds with them better through trust and mutual respect.

And this can only happen if both of you are each other’s top priorities, even over career. Stories of romantic sacrifice and marrying high-school sweethearts used to be the norm back in the last century since Tinder and the internet didn’t exist. When a man or woman found someone they truly wanted to settle with back then, making them the top priority was the only choice.

When you prioritize your family over your romantic partner, the deep level of trust and confidence that can lead to marriage won’t blossom. So stop running to your parents every time you have a relationship problem, and if you do, make sure your partner is present as well to show your trust and respect.

Showing Your Parents You’ve Made The Right Choice

When parents raise their kids, they don’t expect the kids to rely on them for the rest of their lives. Getting into a solid relationship and prioritizing your partner can be a good indicator to your parents that they have done their job well and you’re capable of making good life choices.

If you prioritize your family excessively even after getting into a relationship it tells your parents and siblings that you’re not serious about it. What’s more, if you keep knocking them for advice after every quarrel and disagreement, they might start seeing your significant other in a negative light which can lead them to convince you to ditch the relationship.

Understand that every relationship needs privacy and respect to bloom, and constantly relying on and prioritizing your parents to solve your relationship issues prevents your relationship from reaching the next level where your partner wants to marry and spend the rest of their life with you.

Creating Stronger Dependency and Reliance on Each Other

Marriage isn’t a matter of joke; it’s a lifelong adventure that involves making a family and crossing a lot of hurdles together. But to start along this adventure you and your partner have to be both dependent and reliant on each other. You need to trust each other with everything you have and hash out important conversations.

Talk about your long-term goals, family issues, personal issues, how critical your family is of your significant other, your fears, and more. These discussions won’t start until your significant other is your top priority, and if these discussions haven’t happened yet in your relationship, it might be time to reevaluate things.

Importance of Prioritizing Your Married Partner Over Your Family

Importance of prioritizing your married partner over your family
Importance of prioritizing your married partner over your family

One of the biggest fallacies in human nature (both men and women) is the fact that they see marriage as an end goal rather than the start of a beautiful journey. As a result, when the honeymoon period is over after the first year or so, the passion tends to slow down. The flames of love slow down even more when children are thrown into the mix.

The biggest mistake most couples make when they have kids is focusing all their time and energy on their kids as the children slowly become the anchor in a loveless marriage. You might think that your children should be your top priority (especially if you’re a mom) but certain studies have actually shown the opposite; over-prioritizing children in a marriage after their infancy period corrodes the marriage over time instead of strengthening it.

If you think this sounds crazy, it’s actually not. Your partner is just as invested in taking care of the kids as you are, so if you both put all your efforts into raising your kids, it will leave little to no time for each other. And once that starts happening, the cracks of a dysfunctional family start to appear.

Here are a couple of reasons according to marriage counselors and relationship experts why you should prioritize your partner over kids in a marriage:

It Helps Distribute Family Responsibilities

Of course, children need a lot of care, love, and nurturing when growing up, but so does your partner who wakes up beside you every morning. Imagine being a working mom coming back home from work, doing all the chores, and then sitting miserably in a corner of the bed browsing social media while your partner snores beside you. Does this sound like a picture of a happy marriage to you?

It doesn’t because by not prioritizing your partner you’re also not becoming their priority. This leads to less and less communication as the years go by, leading to feelings of bitterness and temptations of infidelity. But if you prioritize your partner once the infant is old enough, it will rekindle the old flames of romance, make them more communicative, and encourage them to help you out around the house.

It Creates a Positive Role Model for Children

Children are sensitive creatures, but they definitely don’t mind being your second priority as long as they feel loved and needed by both parents. Your partner on the other hand has only you to rely on to take care of them and help them tough out the lowest points in their lives. When you prioritize your partner and support them, it creates a positive relationship role model for them to follow.

If you’re a mom, as mentioned before, you aren’t the sole person responsible for your children. Your children need their dad’s presence in their life as well, and the only way that’s going to happen is if you support your spouse to the fullest which will give them the motivation and energy to be just as present in your kid’s life as you are.

When both parents prioritize each other and put up a united front in front of their kids, it creates a wholesome and positive impression on the children about the kind of healthy relationship they should look forward to when they grow up.

Helps You Find a Middle Ground for Raising Kids

One of the more common terms used among marriage and child counselors in recent years is ‘helicopter’ parents. These kinds of parents are so intensely focused on prioritizing their kids that instead of helping their kids develop, they hinder the child’s mental and social growth.

Kids who get labeled with titles like ‘momma’s boy’ or ‘daddy’s princess’ are more likely to be avoided by their peers and get detached from reality, leading to a host of mental issues. By prioritizing your partner over your kids in the pre-teen and teen years you give them the space and opportunity to grow up into normal functioning adults.

In doing so, you and your partner will be prepared for the inevitable time when your child/children leave home and the two of you have only each other to keep company.


1. How do I know that I’m not prioritizing my spouse properly?

Lack of communication, transparency, and honesty are the biggest indicators that you’re not prioritizing your spouse properly.

2. How do I reconnect with my spouse after having kids?

The duration of pregnancy and the next two years are an absolute blur for both parents. But once that period is over, treat each other like you’re dating again. Go out on dates, spend quality time with each other by doing things you both like, and have lots of bedroom fun.

3. What to do if my family thinks I’m spending too much time with my spouse?

There is a term called over-prioritizing, and you might be doing that for your significant other which might be leaving your family a bit upset. Match your frequency of communication before your relationship with the frequency afterward. If the frequency is too low after getting into the relationship, start reaching out to your family a bit more.

Final Thoughts

For most people, the decision of whether to prioritize their family or significant other is a very difficult decision to make, both before and after marriage. But if you want a long and happy life with your partner, they have to be your top priority in both relationships and marriages.

Don’t think that by putting your partner first you’re going to ruin your relationship with your parents, siblings, and children. Life is a long journey and the nature of your interpersonal relationships will have to change depending on which stage of your life you’re at. Rest assured that prioritizing your partner second to your own well-being will result in a happy married life.

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Andrew C. Smith, an expert in couples and family psychology, brings years of experience in enhancing family dynamics and parent-child relationships. With a private practice background, Andrew is now a valued writer at Merge Family, sharing insights on communication and more

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