If you want to see the game “Telephone” at home, googling slang definitions is the easiest way to do it. Through a simple search, I discovered the acronym “F.O.E.” can have various meanings, including “Freedom of Expression,” “Friends or Enemies,” or “Fall of Empires.”
However, the F.O.E. I was looking for was “Family Over Everything.” The term means exactly what it says, as many prioritize their family over other relationships, such as romantic or friendships.
But naturally, over time, the children in their families of origin begin living their individual lives as adults. Eventually, the “M” word (marriage) becomes real, and the kids soon become grownups with their own tots to run after.
With the natural life shifts, one’s idea of family changes, as does its hierarchy. According to the internet, though, for men, at least heterosexual ones, there are three essential people in their lives — their mother, their wife, and their daughter.
Many had opposing answers regarding the prominent lady in their universe when asked which woman comes first in a man’s life. After seeing the responses to the viral question on TikTok, one user shared why he believed there was only one real correct answer. He said any man not answering this way is doing marriage wrong.
A man said his wife is “the person” he’s choosing over his mother and daughter every time.
Social media debates will never die, no matter how much we’d all like them to at least take a sabbatical. One widespread discussion that has been around since at least the rise of Facebook is who comes first in an adult’s life between their mother, spouse, or children.
In December 2023, TikTok user Woods Owned (@woodsowned) reposted a clip from @teeandcharctv of someone asking multiple people the question, “Who comes first, mom, wife, or daughter?” The interviewer asked several young men their thoughts on the “order.” The answers were immature, although not unexpected.
During the interview, the men’s hierarchies varied. However, the consensus was that no men saw their wives as the first person on their list. Literally none. One guy even said on camera that he would choose his mom first, then his daughter, because his future wife and mother of his child is “replaceable.”
Once the video ended, Woods offered his take on who he felt should be the woman getting the first spot in his life. The entrepreneur said his wife is “the person” he’s choosing over his mother and daughter. He then shared that his infant daughter has the second spot, with his mother coming in last.
Many TikTok users agreed with Woods’s perspective.
Woods’s answer was vastly different than the men in his stitch. In the video, he said the other answers came from men who were young and admittedly unmarried. As a result, he said her would give them the “benefit of the doubt.” However, he said that once a marriage happens, the wife in the equation should have her needs met first by her husband due to the spiritual nature of marriage.
“We have a covenant,” Woods explained in the video. “We have a union. Yes, my mother birthed me, and we praise God for it. Thank you for supporting, growing, rearing, and pouring into me. But once I take on the wife, that person is the person.”
Woods added later in the video that “no one comes before my wife” and feels every man married to a woman should adopt his mindset. He said many people don’t have the hierarchy “appropriately placed” and often choose others over their spouse once married, such as a child or parent.
While I can see where Woods is coming from, the idea of placing your spouse before everyone is something I’m grappling with as a newly married woman. There was a time when I couldn’t imagine even the thought of someone being prioritized over my mom because that’s my BFF.
However, I know my wife and I are a family now, and that must be nurtured to create a healthy foundation for our children. So, I see the hierarchy eventually will shift, but, as Woods mentioned, it doesn’t mean mom’s place isn’t essential. Plus, I know I will be down a peg when the grandkids come.
Woods’s thoughts on choosing his wife over his daughter and mother had several mixed reviews on TikTok. On one side of the TikTok discussion, many users agreed with Woods’s take and stressed that our parents have their own lives and teach us to grow up and do the same.
“That's why most marriages don’t last because the hierarchy isn't in order,” one user said.
“I took vows to my wife, I was blessed with my daughter, and I was raised by my mother,” another explained. “Choice, mandatory, thankfulness in that order.”
However, multiple parents disagreed with Woods’s opinion. Some users said they felt some way when Woods suggested their spouse should come before their child.
“Children first 100 percent every time,” wrote one commenter.
“Did I just look at my 6-month-old and tell him he better not ever put me above his wife? I sure did,” a user joked (I hope).