Rex and I have realized since we got married two and a half years ago, family should always come first (after God, of course). Before we got married, it was okay for us to put ourselves first, as long as our actions were not detrimental to those around us. But all of that changed as soon as we said "I do." We could no longer think about ourselves. We had to consider each other's thoughts and feelings in anything we did. We had to discuss things before a final decision was made. We no longer had the luxury to be selfish. Of course, we weren't very good at making sure we always put the other one first.
When a person gets married in their late twenties or early thirties, they are so used to not having to take another person's opinion into consideration when making a decision. They are so used to doing things for themselves whenever they wished. I know this from experience, because this was one of the problems Rex and I encountered once we got married. Neither one of us was used to having to discuss things with one another, before a mutual decision was made. We also weren't used to sharing space with another human being. I mean, we both lived with our perspective parents until we got married, but that was totally different. We may have lived in the same house as our parents, but we still had our "private space". Having to share a bed, let alone a room with another person, took some getting used to.
We had to remind ourselves to be considerate of one another's feelings and personal space. We could no longer take it upon ourselves to move or use something that belonged to the other, without asking first. We actually had to stop and think about how our actions would affect one another. We had to think, before we said whatever was on our mind, just to be sure that it wasn't hurtful to the other. I had to learn to give him the space he needed (which I'm still not always good at), and he had to learn to just listen to how I felt, rather than trying to "solve my problems" (which he is much better at now!) Even now, two and a half years later, we are still learning. We have gotten better about putting one another needs before our own, but now we have a baby to consider!
Our daughter's needs have to come before ours, but not at the expense of our marriage. In taking care of our daughter, we need to not neglect one another, or take advantage of one another. It needs to be a team effort, that helps us to grow closer together as husband and wife. We need to remind ourselves that as we raise and nurture our daughter, we need to nurture our relationship with each other, as well. If we neglect our marriage, our family structure will begin to crumble, and that isn't helpful to our welfare, or the welfare of our daughter. So as our daughter gets older, we need to set aside some time together, as a couple. We need to "take a break"from being parents, and remind ourselves of why we fell in love and got married.
Outside of our little family nucleus, we have to remember to stay involved in the lives of our extended family as well. We need to include them in the goings-on in our lives, as well as make sure we're up date on their experiences as well. (We are getting better at it, but it's still a "work in progress".) It is important to have close ties with our family, because we never know when we might need them, or even possibly lose them. We need to reach out to our "external" family members, spend time with them, and keep in touch with them as often as possible. Who knows? We may be the ones that are needed someday. The closer knit a family is, the better it relates and prospers. We were not put on this earth to be singular creatures. We were created to "go forth and multiply", so to speak.
All throughout history and the Bible, families lived together, and worked together, until the children were of marrying age. Then the wife went with her husband's family, and though they often had their own homes, they lived close to the family, and continued to interact and spend time with their family members. Nobody was ever expected to do anything alone. Farms were tended by families, businesses were run by families, and the entire family helped to raise the younger children. Then, when the young couple's parents became ill, or too fragile to care for themselves, the children would take them in, and care for them. In those days, it truly was a family "unit". Everyone looked out for the welfare of everyone else.
In today's society, we are not encouraged to do so. It's all about putting yourself first, and fighting your way to the top. Often, families are left behind, because of selfish desires. We are trained to do everything necessary to better ourselves, sometimes at the expense of others. Families and marriages are destroyed, because too often, people give into these selfish urges, without thinking of how it will affect others. People are taught to put their careers first, because if they don't, someone else will get the promotion. We as individuals need to STOP DOING THIS!!! We were not alone when we were brought into this world, and we are not meant to go through life alone.
Whether or not a person decides to get married and have a family, they are still not meant to be alone. We have families for a reason: to raise us, teach us, and nurture us. We are also expected to become caretakers when our elders become too fragile to care for themselves. Always remember to put your family first. Because without them, you would be nothing, and you would have nothing. God created us to be dependent on him AND one another. Eve was created as a Helpmate to Adam, because God did not want Adam to go through life alone. Why should we be any different?