In session a few days ago, I had a life coach client clearly frustrated, burnt out and resentful of her husband. It’s not uncommon, especially in the pilot wife community. She wasn’t getting the help she needed when her husband was home. Working full time, juggling the mental load of running an entire household and taking care of multiple kids under the age of 10, wearing all the hats of being a solo parent. It’s a lot.
Childcare and household chores are the top arguments in marriages with children under the age of 12 in the house anyway, no matter what professions the parents have. Stay at home parents don’t feel they ever get a break and neither do parents who work outside the home.
So as my client was talking about how much her husband had stopped helping around the house, quit attempting to help with baths and bedtime routines, never cleaned up, basically grown lazy in his leadership of their family, I asked her two questions that stopped her in her tracks.
1. Do you clearly ask for what you need?
2. Do you let him?
The answer was no. It was also the answer to her entire problem.
Do you clearly ask for what you need? Or, you assume he “should just know”? This question works for both parties in a marriage but most often, I see wives making the assumption that their partner’s should be anticipating their needs and acting accordingly.
Spouses aren’t mind readers.
Expecting anyone to read your mind, anticipate your needs and move because you telepathically sent them the message isn’t going to work in your favor very well, unfortunately.
However, clearly asking for help, as hard as it is, is going to make your life a thousand times better! What do I mean by clearly? Well, we assume that by asking our partner to take out the trash, they know we mean now. That’s information in our head that doesn’t get communicated so our partner’s behavior can’t climb the ladder to meet our expectations. We left out a significant part of those expectations. The gap that was then created by that missed messaging was filled with shame, blame, resentment, arguing, anger, etc.
So instead of saying “Hey, can you adios this trash for me, please?” We add a bit more context to say “Hey, would you mind hauling this trash to the dumpster on your way out the door this morning? I would appreciate it so much.” See the difference? The second example has a time frame you’re looking for and appreciation. The first request leaves a lot of room for error in your partner assumes you are cool with them taking it out when they get around to it. Then you get mad, do it yourself because “apparently nobody gives a crap about your needs around here!” You stop asking for help, start assuming that to have your needs met, you have to meet them yourself and the massive elephant of resentment starts living rent free in your mind and marriage. More context, more appreciation.
Do you let him?
This is a whole tangent I’m going to talk about more in next week’s podcast. But essentially, it’s this. If you ask your 12 year old to fold the towels but he’s never done it before, his “best work” is probably going to look like your laundry has been run through a landfill and shoved in a closet. Not exactly what you had in mind. So you show him how you’d like it done.
The hard truth is, your husband isn’t your child.
Stop treating him like one.
Stop micromanaging him to death.
Stop criticizing his efforts.
Stop enabling him.
“But he doesn’t fold the towels right.” What is right? Do they fit in the linen closet neatly? Why is your way the “right” way?
I know, all you enneagram 1s, 6s and 8s are cringing right now at the mere thought of letting your partner screw up “your way”. It’s ok. I promise. Your ego will in fact survive. The lesson for you here is to let them have freedom. The lesson for them is to do it again if it’s not done well the first time. Walk away if it’s too excruciating to watch them do it in twice the time it would take you or in a way that’s different than your own.
There is gold in letting someone learn from an experience.
In fact, some people have that specifically written in their human design. They must learn a lesson by experiencing it on their own versus having someone enable them by doing what they could do, only in a different way.
You and your spouse are responsible TO each other, not FOR each other.
Let them screw up.
Let them do things in their own time and way.
Let them handle the consequences of their choices.
Support them, don’t enable them.
Learn to manage your own anxiety, over-criticism, and overly high expectations.
Work on cleaning up your side of the street.
You might find that nobody dies and nobody cares as much as you do about that thing.
You might find that your marriage is happier and more peaceful.
You might find that your partner starts helping more! They feel emotionally safer to help because you aren’t sounding like their mother.
You might even find that the man of your house starts leading because you’re willing to be lead.
Part of that balance is that the man’s natural masculine energy is fed so the woman’s feminine energy can soften.
Everything in marriage is a balance. Both people can’t show up in alpha masculine energy. It won’t work.
Both partners can’t show up anxious, lackadaisical, defensive, or aloof. There has to be balance.
If that balance is off kilter, look at what you’re bringing to the table.
Are you letting your partner be who they were fundamentally designed to be? Are you asking for what you need? What assumptions are you making that need to be questioned or communicated?
Make sure to check out the podcast next week for more on this. Also check it out this week as Julie Mennano from IG’s famous account @thesecurerelationship sit down to talk all about attachment styles! It’s an absolute MUST LISTEN to if you’re a parent, grandparent or in a relationship! You can find that episode anywhere you listen to your favorite podcasts just by searching Recognizing Potential Podcast or listen here.
Until then, have a safe and fantastic Labor Day weekend!