In a marriage, the relationship is about partnership and equality. Both of you bring into the relationship and both of you take away from it. When we choose a mate, we choose someone that we feel is compatible with us and wants from life the same things that we do.
On the whole, Matt and I are very similar people. We laugh at the same things, talk about the same things and enjoy sharing our lives with one another. When the going gets tough, there is nobody that I’d rather turn to than my own husband. For the most part, he is the one who knows me better than anyone else, and so he should be.
Most recently, I’ve felt burned by the amount of chores that have to do. Not only to run the home, but to keep him ticking over, too. As well as him, I also manage the dog’s flea and warm treatments and water tests and changes for the fish. I have a rota for all of the chores that need doing, a rota so that our weekly meals are varied and a rota so that my husband doesn’t get bored of the same type of sandwiches. All of this was designed to help me feel stress-free and organised, but it was actually doing quite the opposite.
For a while, I became resentful of my husband. I’d be resentful about the way he could sit down and play computer games while I ran the home. I’d be angry with the way he could dive into bed at 11pm and I’d still be up making his sandwiches. I became stressed, depressed and overwhelmed by it all. For a while, I wondered how many other women like me coped, until I realised that much of the pressure I put on myself really is all in my head.
For a long time, Matt hasn’t believed in himself. Burdened by anxiety and depression, he has often considered himself as incapable of doing several things and to save my wounded soldier from dispair, I have often come to the rescue. Because of that, I’ve now found myself burdened and burnt out while my husband has been taking it easy.
Enough was enough, I was claiming back some time for me.
Initially, I took the passive-aggressive route and simply stopped making his damn sandwiches. At first it was easy when the Boursin ran out, but then I started claiming my days had been stressful and busy. For a day or two he just accepted it, but then it was time to come clean.
In my shared journal, I opened up about what I’d really been doing, and why. I talked about the fact that our home is our responsibility as a couple and the fact that my husband, at 33 years old, should be able to make his own sandwiches. It wasn’t not loving of me to expect him to make his own lunch, loving and supporting him could still be listening and cheering him up after a bad day. There was supporting him, and then there was enabling him. I’m his wife, not his mother!
So I took control, and overnight, these are the three things that changed:
1. I’ve Stopped Making His Lunches For Him
Matt now often buys lunches at work. While it’s not great for his health or finances, for as long as he isn’t working on an empty stomach then I’m happy. I’ve stopped buying bread as I don’t eat bread (I practically live off of air-fried vegetarian Quorn nuggets at lunch time now!), but if Matt started taking his own lunches in, I’d buy it again. For about two weeks running now, I’ve been less stressed and I’ve been able to go to bed when he does, and it’s a wonderful thing for our relationship. Instead of settling in and trying not to wake him, I’ve been curling up right next to him.
2. I’ve Stopped Thanking My Husband For “Helping” With The Housework
Something that used to wind me up not so long ago, Matt would get our portable clothes dryer out and claim that he was “helping me”. Dear God.. how I didn’t execute the man where he stood, I do not know. When a man claims that he is “helping” a woman with the housework, the onus is that it’s her responsibility – that is wrong. Something that I was always firm on (and my parents would have it no other way) is that once you get married, the home is up to both of you to maintain. It is not the wife’s duty to clean and maintain the home, just as it is not the husband’s to keep up repairs and solely provide for the family. By thanking my husband, it is as though I am praising him for going out of his way for helping me with my job, my perceived job. My job is not to clean, my job is to contribute.
Instead, we praise each other. In the most peculiar way, Matt and I both have zones of our home that we love to maintain. Matt’s is the kitchen, mine is the bedroom and lounge. When Matt calls me to see the difference he’s made, I don’t thank him. Instead, I praise him for being able to do such an amazing job in a fraction of the time that it would take me. When I call him to see our lounge or bedroom looking its best, he praises me for an amazing job. How you deliver praise is also important, and it’s vital to treat your spouse like a team mate, not a toddler. We often high-five each other around the home, sometimes quite hard!
I’ve Stopped Trying To Fix His Problems For Him
It’s my natural tendency to try and come to anyone’s rescue, so when my husband is in a spot of bother, it’s natural for me to want to jump in and save the day. That doesn’t help him learn and it doesn’t challenge his capabilities, all that it does do is enforce the idea in his mind that he is incapable without me around. These days, I encourage him to problem solve with questions like “so how are you going to resolve it?” or “what’s the worst that could happen, and now how likely is it?”. Instead of telling him how to fix the problem, I encourage him to think about the variables and find his own solutions. He hates me for it sometimes as it’s the leader in me, but it’s for the best!
By empowering him, I’ve saved myself from a lot of stress and I’ve helped him see that he really can cope without me. Not that I plan to go anywhere, but allowing him to see that he has solved his own problems has done good for his confidence, and these days, Matt will even take on challenges and tell me not to help him which he has never done before. Instead of running the family for us, we are both able to look after ourselves, work as a team and come back together at the end of the day. It’s done great for his confidence, and it’s done wonders for my cortisol levels!
I hope that this post has helped you and inspired you in some way. Don’t forget, whatever you do in your relationship, always come from a place of love and kindness. Wounds heal, but hurtful words can last a lifetime.
Be Bold, Be Bright, Be Beautiful,