Interview with Valeria and Gary Lipovetsky.
We live in a world where everyone likes to make snap judgements about people’s relationships. The reality television world would not exist if we weren’t, as a collective, obsessed with drama and relationship dynamics. Some of us crave it, especially when those people in question are public figures. The entire notion of celebrity is a whole other topic - but we’re obsessed with watching the lives of others and drawing our own conclusions. There is no better example of this than parent-shaming - or ‘mom-shaming’, as you may know it as (since primarily, such snap judgment falls on the woman).
Even those of us who have never brought up a small human think we know how to do it correctly - or assume there even is a correct way to do it - which there isn’t. Cut to me being surprised when Gary Lipovetsky, husband and business partner of influencer Valeria Lipovetsky, nonchalantly told me during a catch-up conversation one day that he prioritizes his relationship with Valeria over their three young sons. Me, being the childless millennial, communicated my surprise (in my defence, that's something that would immediately be painted as selfish, where I come from). It wasn’t until after I sat down with both of them that I was more than embarrassed by my knee-jerk reaction to their approach to parenting - and their marriage.
Let's get right into it. Why do you prioritize your relationship over your kids?
Gary: The reality is, we actually prioritize our kids indirectly by prioritizing our relationship.
What do you mean by that?
Gary: Giving your kids a good example of what a healthy relationship looks like helps them a tremendous amount in life. Me prioritizing their mother will help them more than that extra potential time spent directly with them, for example. That quality time spent working on and strengthening our marriage is a better investment into all of our wellbeing - specifically the children. That’s the underlying thesis of why we do it.
Valeria: It’s not about taking anything away from our kids, it’s keeping enough for ourselves. Once you have children, there’s so much coming at you literally at all times. You’re both dealing with humans that need your full attention and support. You’re constantly trying to prioritize them and assume your partner is self-sufficient. It’s easy to just say “we’ll deal with us and our issues later, the kids need us.” But then the kids grow up and leave the house and you look at each other and are like “who are you?” - I think that’s where this approach comes from.
Talk to me about how this approach directly affects your parenting style. We’re always told to put your child above ourselves, to make time for them. How is making time for each other actually the benefit?
Valeria: When we prioritize our relationship and make time for each other, it prevents us from becoming helicopter parents. As parents, we push away the hard stuff so all the attention can be towards our children or our jobs etcetera. It’s a way of avoiding dealing with marriage problems. It’s a good argument to say: “we’ll figure our issues out later because the kids need us right now.” When we take some of that time back for ourselves, to work on ourselves and each other, it eliminates that overbearing parenting thing. If you're pushing those things down, at the end of the day, you’re trying to do your best for your kids but you actually end up messing them up.
Was this an approach you both decided on early in your relationship?
Gary: Valeria and I had different perspectives on it earlier in our marriage. I never wanted to de-prioritize us, even after Jake was born. Maybe all men are like this, but I just expected that nothing would change. I understood there is a period of time after birth that the relationship somewhat shifts, like lack of intimacy in postpartum and stuff like that, but in my mind my wife is my girlfriend. I’m a big fan of the honeymoon stage lasting forever. We were just talking about that today actually. I didn’t act any differently towards Valeria now that she was the mother of our child, she’s my girlfriend and my baby mama too.
What does prioritizing each other actually look like?
Gary: Time is one thing - spending time to go away, scheduling privacy, date nights; but actually scheduling time for yourself as an individual, like taking time for yourself or with friends, is equally as important. For example, not long ago, we were scheduled to go to a child’s birthday party and take the whole family. I got a call to go skeet shooting on a boat. Which is wild and something I’ve always wanted to do - like it’s skeet shooting on a boat! Let me just say this - taking kids to a birthday party is not fun as an adult. I would honestly rather work. It’s a mess [laughs]. The true hell of it. Knowing how much we both dislike this thing - prioritizing our relationship sometimes looks like me asking Valeria to take the kids alone so I can do something for myself. Valeria prioritizing me looks like her saying “yes of course”, because we both know she is now excusing me from the hell that is taking our kids to a birthday party to let me go have my own time. She will take the burden this time around. Valeria knows I will come back with a happier, better attitude, which translates to benefitting my relationship with her and in the end, translates to benefitting our relationships to our kids. Same thing if Valeria wants a girl’s night - I may not want her to go out and leave me for the night - but I’ll take one for the team this time.
So what you’re saying is, in relationships, you have to prioritize your partner, your partner has to prioritize you, and that translates to everyone being the priority?
Gary & Valeria: Exactly.
Gary: When you and your wife prioritize each other - your marriage or partnership becomes stronger, which means there’s a healthy environment for your children. If you prioritize your spouse, you prioritize your children.