The following was produced in partnership with The Stray movie. This amazing true story of a dog who saves a family is in theaters October 6.
Mitch Davis was hard at work all day trying to support his family, but what he failed to recognize was that his family was falling apart right before him. His wife struggled in her roles as a young mother of three. What made it worse was his lack of support or care. His priority wasn't on his wife. It was on another dream. (See their true story in the new movie, "The Stray," to find out what unlikely source brought their family back together.)
Even when our spouses continually make mistakes, showing them that we love them is one of the most important things you will do in your life. They need to know that we are there for them.
Other priorities pop up that sometimes take precedence over our spouse. Check yourself to see if these four groups of people are a greater priority in your life than your spouse is:
1. Your kids
Don't get me wrong, your kids need your attention. They need to feel loved, too, but they need to see how much their father loves their mother and vice versa.
Marriage experts Gary and Joy Lundberg note that if a man or woman prioritizes their children above their spouse, it can ruin how their children view marriage. They said, "If you push your spouse down on your list of priorities, your children will believe that marriage isn't all that important. On the other hand, if they see you honoring your spouse with that No. 1 spot, they will feel a love and security that can come in no other way."
Happy homes are built when husbands and wives prioritize each other above their children.
2. Your parents
Growing up, your parents were your best friends. They were the ones you went to when you needed to cry, when you were scared or when you didn't know what to do with your life. When you get married, though, your spouse needs to be that new confidant and shoulder to lean on.
As the scripture in Genesis says, "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife." Speaking on this, religious leader, Spencer Kimball said, "She, the woman, occupies the first place. She is preeminent, even above the parents who are so dear to all of us."
Stay close to your parents and always let them know that you love them, but never let them take that first place of priority and get in between you and your spouse.
3. Your boss
Work should never get in the way of those you love. It's true that money matters; you have a duty to support your family. But when you put work first and your wife further down the list, that's when problems happen.
Talk with your spouse and decide together how much time is too much time at work. If money is tight, work needs to be a high priority. When that happens, come up with ways to show care and devotion to the person who means the most. That might just mean a small date night, or curling up in bed with a favorite TV show.
Set expectations that you can both agree on. Conflicts in marriage are often the result of expectations not being met or understood. When you're on the same page you can work through the tough times together.
Beware, too, of encouraging feelings for someone you don't even know. Too many men and women slowly lose priority for their spouse by indulging in pornography.
It's these small, seemingly innocent actions that lead to problems like adultery and divorce. And it all stems from ignoring that one principle: make your spouse your priority. Think of them before you go and make a mistake you will forever regret.
We all want a happy marriage, one that makes life joyful and not just something to endure. That marriage we want starts with us shifting our focus back to our spouse and to meeting their needs.
Husbands, your wives need you. Wives, your husbands need you. Don't let them down. Be there for them like you need them to be there for you.
To see how the Davis family was able to overcome the challenges that threatened their marriage and build a stronger family, watch The Stray in theaters October 6.