My husband and I don’t always communicate effectively on a daily basis, but one of the reasons we have been happily together for 17 years is we listen to each other when it really matters. Becoming parents has made us both ridiculously happy. Cora is 3 now, Bexley is 1.5, and we still don’t have it figured out. With every season comes new challenges. We are currently in a transition phase in our careers and it makes it complicated to problem solve. We can do something to put a band-aid on it now, but when life changes in a few weeks we will have to figure out a permanent solution.
There is nothing better than having a partner in your husband when that is the type relationship you seek. When I became a new mom I quickly realized how fortunate I am to be married to a man that actively wants to be a hands-on father, because that is what I wanted as a father for my children. I think the way we view relationships and parenting is in response to how we were parented. Every home and family dynamic need something different. When I entered the mommy blog-o-sphere I was bombarded with bloggers that have strong opinions of how a husband and father should contribute and behave. I’m always so happy to hear when a couple has figured out something that works for them. Everyone’s happy is different. Sometimes I read these articles though, and it makes me second guess my relationship and my husband’s behavior. Sure, he has habits that drive me crazy! But, at the end of the day, I am so thankful for everything he does.
I realized after I would read these articles about a husband that gets home and starts helping with kids and housework would make me feel anger and resentment towards my husband. I would get frustrated over things that normally don’t bother me. Things the blogger would say made sense. They seemed like reasonable expectations to have of your partner. I’m a stay-at-home mom turned work-at-home mom and the transition has been difficult. I still haven’t found my balance, and as my brand grows it only becomes more difficult to keep caught up with both household chores and social media. I would start to think things like when he gets home everything is split 50/50, kids and chores as if I was at an office job all day. Or I’ve been on kid duty all day so when he gets home I’m going to retreat and write and he can take care of dinner and bedtime. Most nights he doesn’t mind being a helping hand. It’s all in the way I approach it. Some nights it all falls into place, but it’s not what works for my family on a day-today basis.
I’m a caregiver, I show people I love them with acts of kindness. I like to show people I love them by taking care of them. It’s a mommy complex for sure! I imagine the Italian heritage in me makes me good at it. I do appreciate some extra help around the house, especially on the tougher days. My husband knows now how to tell when he needs to jump in and take over before I loose it completely. This makes me feel more loved than the actual act of service of doing the dishes. The fact he knows I need a little support and he is there to be my strength. I’ve learned that I actually like to be loved by being told that I’m loved. A hug and a kiss seal the deal. And, to be totally truthful, my husband never does the chores to my satisfaction, so it just causes more frustration. Through the chats we’ve had about how to be more efficient and supportive of each other, I’ve learned how to approach my husband for help in a way that will make him WANT to help. I’ve also realized that it’s ok to have bad days and need the help, it’s all about how you communicate it.
When you work in an office setting and things get off track, you meet with your boss and/or team and re-evaluate your priorities and re-distribute your duties. It’s no different in a marriage and parenting. I have no control over the kid’s attitudes, if they get a cold, or if they are just having growing pains and are super fussy and clingy, but those things affect our day with a large impact. I used to feel like a complete failure and deflated and exhausted. I would fill with fear that when he gets home he would think I didn’t accomplish motherhood. He would never comment his disappointment, but I would be devastated just knowing I wasn’t able to support him and his family today. By opening our communication and both being in agreement that tending to our kids is my number one priority while home with them, I can relax knowing the dishes and laundry can wait till tomorrow, and he fully supports me in that.
Every day is unknown in parenthood. The littles are in control of how our timeline works out. I know I feel most productive if I get a dinner on the table and we get to eat together. We can’t run our homes and set our expectations to the perfect life of someone else. If they think they have all the answers, well, they might. They might have figured out what works for them, and that’s great! They might have tips and tricks, or a new way to help communicate your perspective, but only you know all your husband does to support you and your family. Only you know what will work for you as a couple and as parents. If you talk openly and constructively and really listen and hear your partner, you will have a strong relationship and a happy marriage. The rest is tit-for-tat. A marriage is not him taking out the trash, and mowing the lawn, dirty diapers and loading dishwashers. A marriage is everything that happens in the in-between. If it didn’t bother you that the Daddy in your house doesn’t help with bath time until you saw a picture of another dad playing with the rubber ducky, there is no reason to let it bother you now. It doesn’t mean he doesn’t care about you and your kiddos. He doesn’t know that’s something you want until you tell him. Look at that photo and learn to say, “isn’t that sweet”, and move on, instead of, “why can’t he be more like that?”. You chose him for a reason….