Dear Husband,

I apologize for trying to burn our marriage to the ground recently. You are a good man, and I love you dearly, yet we haven’t been in sync for quite some time. I doubt you will put up with my harsh words and tears much longer, so here is my attempt to explain myself, and show you where the woman you thought you married has gone.

Before we had our two precious boys, you and I were in a good place. We laughed, played, and planned our future with hope and excitement. Then we navigated the first year with a baby and then the next baby a few years later, and came out on the other side, ragged but here.

It’s hard to explain what motherhood does to a woman’s soul and sense of responsibility. I have such a fierce need to protect them, provide for them, and make sure they know love that I give literally all I have of myself to them. I am no different from any other motherwe all have to plan, prepare, and organize our lives so our children get the most opportunities and the best of us. At the end of the day, I’ve carried my full-time job, my duties as a mother, my duties to our house, and the duties of a wife, all day, and it just leaves me with nothing to give at the end of the day. Not to mention any time to my self, attempts to keep up with friends, birthdays, holidays, sports, and school obligations. I hit the pillow at night with such exhaustion.

I am weary.

And then I worry. Did I get his school paperwork signed? Did I say how proud of him I am? Did I tell him why he cannot talk back like he did? Did I make the 2-year doctor’s appointment? Did I order the green balloons for the party? Did I text back about baseball? Did he have a fever? Did I put the laundry in the dryer? Where are his shoes?

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I know your brain doesn’t work like this. I expect it to so that you understand the weight of all the things I worry about. You say, “Just don’t worry about it.” I wish it were that simple! I wish I could let God have it all, like I should, yet I worry if I’m enough, if I’ve done enough. So when you seem carefree, as you should be, I see someone who doesn’t understand the amount of time and energy, physical and mental, that I put into our family.

I worry.

You do so many things for our family. You take our children to school, and I can always depend on you at any time. You think, “Not all husbands make dinner or help wash clothes or empty the dishwasher, so why wouldn’t she be happy when I’m helping her?” Which is true. Not all husbands do, but I’m not married to all husbands. I’m married to you.

And let me place a different perspective on this—I work equally as many hours as you do. Which means I’m away from the home and contributing financially. Why would I be the only one to empty the dishwasher when half of the dishes are yours? Why is it “helping me” (with the expectation that I’m grateful) instead of helping us all? Dirty bathrooms, sheets, and diaper pails—none of these are my messes alone. Society has ingrained in us that chores are a woman’s role, yet that was before women had full-time, outside-of-the-home jobs.

Believe me, I appreciate any work done around the house, (and you do a lot!) but it’s something that should just be assumed. You emptying the dishwasher or buying groceries is just you carrying your load, not something I should see as fulfilling my love language. When we keep this running tally of who did what and who sacrifices more, it frustrates us both.

I am frustrated.

And at the root of this weariness, worry, and frustration, I am a woman who yearns to be loved. I give all of my love out (not enough to you, I acknowledge) and I feel somewhat empty at times. I can hear you now, saying I’m a complainer or I am dramatic. But if you will just hear me.

You are right—we are extremely blessed. We live in America and have safe beds to come home to. We have two healthy children that so many others would do anything to have. I have a job I enjoy, and we are able to keep the bills paid. We generally don’t fight about money, nor are we laced in jealousy or past discretions. To most people, we should have a perfectly happy marriage.

But we’ve let the stressors of kids, busy schedules, and messy houses push our attention to one another to the side. After the long days, I want you to be the one to say, “Hey babe, you need anything . . . Good job planning the birthday. . . The kids will love their Valentine’s. . . I’m glad you came to practice. . . You look great. . . I love you.”

I know you will think, Well those are just things that have to be done. You are a mom. And you are right. I would do all those things over and over again even if you never noticed them.

But as wives and mothers, our only real cheerleaders are our husbands.

Everyone else is running their own race or has forgotten how hard the race is once they are out of it. As a partner and teammate, a pat on the back or an “attagirl!” does such an amazing thing for a woman’s psyche. When you don’t notice me, or the effort I put in, it leads to resentment and thoughts of greener grass which is a dangerous and foolish path to go down.

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It comes down to thisif you know your wife is the glue that holds the place together, and if you think she does a stellar job at balancing all of the things, then don’t assume she knows. Tell her. You’ll never be sorry for saying, “Gah, I need you.”

I am longing.

We need a positive cycle, and I know it needs to start with me—when I’m kinder to you, you are more likely to give words of affirmation and attention and then the love between us grows. I have come to realize my expectations of you are unrealistic. I expect you to read my mind, anticipate what I’m needing and deliver it on the ready. I expect you to be head over heels mad for me, yet I barely look your direction some days. I am such an imperfect human, and I fail daily in so many areas. I know I make it hard to love me sometimes, but I hope and pray you’ll see my heart.

I’m a different woman than I was before children. I hope you’ll see me as wiser and more responsible and capable of such profound love. I want to make you proud, and I want to be the one you look forward to seeing at the end of the day. I know words cannot be unsaid, and there is so much gasoline on our past already—I cannot let my angry words be the lighter any longer. It will be the end of our story, and we have so much more to tell. I still hope and plan for what’s ahead, but I do it more to myself these days. We need to see each other again, make time for one another, and give each other grace.

I am sorry.

With love,

Your weary, worrisome, frustrated, longing, sorry wife.

Alana Smith

Alana Smith is a nurse anesthetist and boy mom (ages seven and two) in Birmingham, Alabama. She lives with her husband, two boys, and boxer, Sam. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and when she isn’t writing or chasing little humans, she can usually be found in the aisles of Target.