Dear MOB Society, after a day of meeting multiple boys’ needs, answering emails, cooking meals, & cleaning, I have nothing left for my husband. I feel like a failure as a wife. Can you help?
Dear Fellow Boy Mom,
Oh sister, do I understand your feelings. As a mom of four young boys, their frequent and overlapping needs can overwhelm me. Before the boys are even in bed I feel exhausted and completely poured out. And yet when the night begins there is one more male in our home needing my attention. Many times I feel like a failure as a wife because I just have nothing left to give my husband.
Of course, that’s not how I want to be. These boys wouldn’t exist if not for a loving marriage. Being an idealist and avid self-help reader, I know the best way to love my kids is to make my husband top priority.
But then reality hits.
I’ve been huge and pregnant four times in the last eight years. I’ve fed babies multiple times a night in the years I’m not pregnant. So there are legitimate reasons I have little left to give my husband.
When the reality falls short of the ideal, I “feel” like a failure… then there are the other times. The times I’ve created new habits of heading straight to the computer after the boys are in bed or scheduling too many girl-only social events at night. In trying to carve out “me” time, I’ve neglected my husband’s needs and forgotten to love him well.
You see, my husband is very understanding. He knows I’m tired. He knows I’ve traded a successful career to stay home and care for our boys. He knows I need hobbies and friendships.
He isn’t one to shout his needs. So he usually stuffs them…until they explode.
When my second son was 9 months old we had a “come to Jesus” talk. I had taken advantage of my husband’s understanding. I made the kids too much of a priority and my connection to the outside world a second priority (Facebook/blogging/etc). Unfortunately, that meant my husband got the leftovers.
In our case, he verbalized a couple of his needs: more uninterrupted conversation and a little more time in the bedroom (wink wink).
To develop new habits we set certain connection goals, one of which is “Couch Time”. After the kids are in bed & dinner dishes are cleaned, we meet each other on the couch for at least 10 minutes. Checking in even for a few uninterrupted minutes on how the day went helped us feel more connected emotionally.
Also, before my husband leaves for work we stop, wrap our arms around each other and take turns praying for each other’s day.
Two simple actions that help him know he is important.
(Of course, I also make time in the bedroom more of a priority…don’t know why I feel like this information needs to be in parenthesis and italicized…guess it feels more like I’m whispering to you, which is what we do about “intimacy in marriage”, right?)
So my dear exhausted fellow boy mom, if you feel like you are failing your husband I suggest you to talk with him. Ask him about his expectations and needs.
Maybe your failure feelings are just feelings. The truth is he may not feel neglected. He may feel loved and appreciated. He may understand in this season you have little left to give.
Perhaps your ideal (perfectly cleaned home, dinner on the table, kids well behaved at all times) is not what he actually needs. For my husband, I learned he didn’t expect the whole house to be clean, just the areas where his stuff goes (his sink, the entry table).
Or he may want more one-on-one time with you (like my friend who’s husband likes to talk about his day). Maybe he wants to sit together and watch a T.V. show (computers off).
Since you have limited time and energy, another idea is to focus on his specific love language (Do you know what it is? Check out this book, “The Five Love Languages” for more info…)
- Acts of service? Bake him cookies with your boys.
- Words of affirmation? Out of the blue send him a text encouraging him on what a great dad he is.
- Physical touch? Hug and kiss him when he walks in the door. Spend a lil more time in the bedroom.
- Gifts? Listen for any needs he mentions…new shirt, black shoes, a belt.
- Quality Time? Schedule a babysitter for a date night. Go Bowling or to an art museum.
Truth is we can’t do it all (you and I know it). In the time we do have, let’s love our husbands in ways that mean the most. Making time with them a priority over the computer or other “outside the family” relationships.
I have a feeling you are a fabulous wife.
(You know what gave it away? The fact that you even want to love your husband well.)
What matters most to your husband? What makes him feel loved?Have you asked him lately?
This post is part of our first series of 2014, Hope for the Messiness of Motherhood. Find all of the posts in this series here.