Men, do not make your wife your first priority.
Love your wife as Christ loved the church. Christ’s first priority was glorifying the Father. Christ loving the church meant sacrificial love. It was sacrificial to say hard things that were for the church’s good. Christ loves the church by encouragement and admonishment, by watering and pruning. “Happy wife, happy life” is not biblical because Christ’s priorities concerning the church never concerns the church’s happiness. Also, when a husband says he loves his wife first, then his kids, this does not represent how the Heavenly Father loves his children.
Even “God first, wife second, children third…” is bad theology. “Love the Lord your God with all…” No prioritization. Oswald Chambers says “God first, God second, God third.” The Spirit prioritizes for us moment-by-moment, person-by-person. When children see dad take mom’s side to “have her back” even though the kids know mom is wrong (and even know dad knows it too,) this sets the table for a loss of respect for both parents and that truth and light is secondary to a marital bond. This is, plain and simple, idolatry of the spouse and marriage relationship.
It has happened more than once that I have told my wife, in the moment and in front of our daughter, that she needed to apologize to our daughter. What this does is demonstrate that we are all sinners, we all need admonishment, we all need to confess, and there is no special class of human that gets a pass from responsibility or gets more love and respect than another. What this also prevents is our daughter looking for this “always have my back in public even if I’m wrong” sort of love that she doesn’t get from her parents but sees in her parents. In other words, a better kind of love than I get from my parents. A love that always helps me save face and puts me first. No more second-rate love like I get at home. And this is why teens are so desperate to date; to get this kind of love that they get nowhere else (not even from God.)
This is the state of most marital advice within the church. And it needs reforming.