March 2, 2013 at 7:12 PM ET
A new baby often means fewer date nights and less alone time as a couple is transformed into a trio. Whether it’s intended or not, the new baby often takes priority over everything, including other relationships. But some couples believe that the marriage should take top billing – not the baby. Bill and Giuliana Rancic are one of those couples.
In an interview with US Weekly recently, E! News host Giuliana Rancic renewed the debate over where parents’ focus should be.
"We're husband and wife, but we're also best friends, and it's funny because a lot of people, when they have kids, they put the baby first, and the marriage second," Giuliana told US Weekly. "That works for some people. For us, I find, we put our marriage first and our child second, because the best thing we can do for him is have a strong marriage."
Some parenting experts, responding to the ensuing controversy of Rancic’s remarks, told TODAY that it can be good for children to not always come first. “It’s good for your child to see a strong bond and it’s good for your child to sometimes feel they have to figure out something on their own,” said TODAY contributor Dr. Gail Saltz, a psychiatrist and columnist.
TODAY host Lester Holt, who has two grown sons, asked psychotherapist Dr. Robi Ludwig, “Isn’t it important, especially when you talk about a 6-month baby, in this case – isn’t it important to have the date nights out, the time to make sure the marriage is strong?”
Dr. Ludwig agreed, noting, “We know that when it comes to marriage and stages of marriage, when you have little kids, it’s really the most complicated time in a relationship because there are so many demands and you need to juggle and you need good coping skills. So, the happier marriages are really the ones where the wife can focus on the husband’s needs and likewise – where there’s thoughtfulness in that union. And, that is very healthy for a child, as long as the child’s needs are being met, too.”
The show also compared Giuliana and Bill’s approach to marriage and parenthood to the French-style of parenting touted in the book “Bringing up Bebe” by Pamela Druckerman; children are viewed as an important part of the family, but not necessarily the center of attention.
TODAY host Erica Hill, a mother of two young boys, noted, “We do have a tendency, in this country, to really push upon parents, I think, that they have to put their child above everything else. Above their sleep, above their health. And so sometimes, it does feel like there’s a lot of societal pressure to say, ‘no matter what, my kid will always win’.”
Many US Weekly readers have applauded the Rancics on their marriage-first approach, believing that it ultimately benefits the child to have parents who are in love with each other and who model a healthy relationship. Taylor Roberts commented, “Your marriage should come first because then you are creating a wonderful loving environment for your children. If you are solid then your kid is solid. That is just the way it should be. It sounds like her kid is very loved and taken care of. So, don't see what the problem is.”
Not everyone agrees, and some argue that a new baby should always be a couple’s top priority. US Weekly commenter “PattyT64” wrote, “I personally don't agree with her but if it works and the baby is well cared for, I guess good for them all. I put my kids ahead of EVERYTHING including myself. But we all have our priorities and, as long as the baby is happy and well cared for, carry on! Just remember, you can divorce your spouse but your children are forever part of you.”
In response to the controversy, Giuliana issued a statement to E! News, saying: "Bill and I understand that my comments have sparked some debate and feel it is a good thing to open the conversation about how to find a balance between your marriage and your children.
"Your relationship is the first example your child learns from and we will do everything we can to show our child how much we love, respect and are devoted to one another. He can only benefit from this, and hopefully it will carry over into his other relationships throughout his life."
The Rancics, who were married in 2007, have had their fair share of ups and downs. The couple dealt with infertility issues and attempted IVF treatments before Giuliana was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011 and underwent a double mastectomy. They welcomed their son Edward Duke in August 2012, via a gestational carrier.
Dana Macario is a Seattle-area mom who’s way overdue for a date night with her husband.