"Are you and daddy getting divorced?"

I was four years old, sitting on the bathroom floor and chatting with my mom while she soaked in the tub, when I blurted out this question. "No, of course not!" she immediately responded. "Why would you think that?" I don’t remember what I said next, but somehow we moved on to a new topic.

Later I heard her whispering on the phone about what I'd said. She must have been thinking, How did my little girl, the one with the stay-at-home mom and Catholic upbringing, know about divorce? It's not like my parents were screaming and slamming doors all the time. Their unhappiness wasn't supposed to be obvious, especially not to a little girl. But somehow, even at that young age, I could sense that my parents were deeply unhappy in their marriage.

More from Your Tango: My Husband Comes Before Our Kids: Why I Baby-Proof My Marriage

Jessica Peterson, Getty Images

More from Your Tango: Lessons In Parenting From A Lesbian Mom

Turns out they did get divorced—four years later, right around my eighth birthday. The quietly hostile relationship that my parents had when they were married bloomed into an outwardly hostile one during the split, and it stayed that way for years after the divorce papers were signed. By the time my sister and I were pre-teens, our dad had remarried and pretty much vanished from our lives.

The whole thing—the divorce, our father deciding to go his own separate way—was incredibly sad and unfortunate, but it taught me an important lesson: It's almost impossible to have a happy childhood if you have miserable parents. At some point I decided that if I were ever to get married and have kids I would do everything I could to have a happy marriage that lasted for the long haul…and if that wasn’t possible, then at least I would do my best to forge a positive relationship with my ex-husband for the sake of my kids.

Years later, I met an amazing man. I got married and we celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary this past June. We're very happy, and because I want to stay happily married and give our three-year-old son the kind of joyful home I didn’t have while I was growing up, I put my marriage first. That's right. My husband comes before anyone else in my life, including my beloved child.

Before anyone calls me a selfish, terrible mother, please let me explain what I mean by that: I think you'll see that it's not as harsh as it sounds. And, in fact, the priorities that we've set benefit everyone involved. Putting my marriage first means I'm protecting the relationship that's central to Mason's happy childhood; I'm making sure that Chris and I coexist happily despite the changes that we experienced in our relationship after our baby was born, particularly in those first few months (from the way that we needed to divert our attention and, at times, affections to this new little person in our lives to the mind-boggling lack of sleep that lasted for months and made us argue about silly little things like who forgot to buy more coffee when the last bag ran out).

Putting my marriage first does not mean neglecting my son; Chris and I are extremely involved parents. We both say constantly that Mason is the love of our lives. He's the greatest thing we've ever done; we can't imagine our lives without him. We love him infinity plus. So for Mason's sake (and for ours), here's how we make our marriage our top priority: