A few years back, I worked my way through The Rules of Love by Richard Templar (Buy Direct). In it, Templar outlines what he feels are the rules everyone must follow in order to find and keep a happy romantic relationship. Some of his rules are contentions, but none more so (in my opinion) than #46 - Your Partner Is More Important Than Your Kids.
More important, you say? Tell that to the hundreds of thousands of single parents around the world today, and see what their reaction is. I'll hazard most of them would blanch at this suggestion, much less agree with it. And frankly, the first thing that came to mind for me when I read #46 was a horrible story where a single parent did rank their partner over their kids: a woman - whose boyfriend was in jail for stalking her and uttering threats - was told by one of her children that they didn't like said boyfriend. The Mom in turn defended the boyfriend's actions, saying he was a good, solid man. Not the best of thought processes for sure, but I'll hazard many single parents think of a similar type of situation when discussing who has priority in their lives.
As I read Templar's rule however, I softened a bit. He wasn't saying that single parents dating shouldn't spend less time with their kids. Rather, he says that a single parent's children will take up the brunt of one's time. I quote:
"... it's crucial that your partner is the primary focus of your life, even while your responsibility and time commitment to the children is greater. I'm not saying you should love them best because there's enough love for everyone and it's a very different kind of love. But never lose sight of the fact that having children at home is temporary (albeit long term temporary) whereas your partner is for life."
Templar is obviously speaking of folks who have made a lifelong commitment to one another. But I'm not sure if what he's suggesting should apply to everyone... or maybe he has a point. Should our partners - once we've hit that magical dating period where the kids are involved and everyone's lives are deeply intertwined - be our #1 focus to keep a dating relationship burning bright? Or are the rules of love not the same as the rules of dating?
Related: The Perks of Dating A Single Parent