You sigh as you walk in the kitchen and he’s left the peanut butter and the used knife out. Again.
“Why can’t he take the two seconds to put these away? Literally no one else is going to use this knife. They never do, they never will!”
Then he’s on his phone oblivious to your efforts to corral the kids in the final minutes before you both head out the door.
“Ugh! Why can’t he help at least one of the kids get their socks and shoes on?”
Then after work, it seems he always finds tasks to do that isn’t watching the kids, so you are standing in the kitchen feeling overwhelmed, kids hanging off your legs and crying, while you try to watch a hot stovetop.
At night it bubbles out of you, sometimes in isolated tears, sometimes in harsh words snapped hastily.
“I wish you would help take care of the kids!” erupts from your lips. Then instant regret. You don’t want to yell, you don’t want to fight. You also can’t keep up with this feeling like you’re doing most of it alone.
While far from being an uninvolved father, it’s the little things missed that pile-up and take up too much space in your mind. The emotional labor he seems oblivious to. He does things he can see: unload the dishes, take out the trash, put one kid to bed, fetch snacks. And you don’t want to keep score but an anguished mind that feels helpless wanders into that line of thinking.
Then you turn to the news: pandemic. A virus that is affecting the world, and could be coming to your own household.
Mama bear instincts kick in and you plan scenarios, take food inventory, teach the toddlers how to wash their hands better than just stick one in the water for two seconds, and perhaps figure out how to homeschool. All the while adding to the existing mountain of mental tasks that had stacked up from “normal” life.
Now is the time to have that talk with your husband.
It is time to clue him into your feelings, to your needs. And to listen to his, and to create an improvement game plan.
It is time to talk through grievances and determine how to better share the physical and mental workload because now is the time to move forward as teammates.
Being teammates means you both keep in mind you are working toward a shared goal: providing the best that you can for your family.
“But the kids only want Mom,” is the refrain we both got used to, and it seemed like it would be a lot of tears and tantrums to retrain our two toddlers to “ask Dad.” But that’s incredibly silly when you take a minute to think about it, and it’s not worth avoiding a fix for. As the mom who was feeling extremely overwhelmed, I’d also convinced myself retraining was impossible. Two weeks after our talk, my husband is proactively recognizing opportunities that he can help. And the kids have dropped the tantrum when he steps in and just say “OK.” Truly, what were we waiting for? Every time he assists, it feels like a brick is removed from my shoulders.
Resentment is virtually gone, and I’m able to remain much calmer with the kids.
We can’t expect to have peace about the world around us if we don’t find common ground and peace within our own households.
“The talk” has led us back to renewed joy in each other, and particularly after the pandemic broke, to checking in on how we’re both doing. Game. Changer.
Having this talk can be a reset that provides your relationship renewed strength. That’s critical during this time where it’s possible to find yourself on a completely different path today than you were yesterday due to outside forces like school and daycare cancellations.
Have the talk, and reset your marriage with the goal of emerging as teammates. Make an improvement plan by identifying needs and solutions, and don’t forget to check in with each other.
Peace starts in your family, peace quells fear, and peace provides a foundation to handle the unforeseen while continuing to love one another.
Marriage takes work. Thankfully, there’s an app that can help! Lasting—the nation’s #1 relationship counseling app—provides accessible sessions designed to help you build a healthy marriage. Download and take Lasting’s free Relationship Health Assessment.
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