Ever since I read, “The Surrendered Wife“, I’ve been very in tune to what I see around me. And you know what I see? So many of us women resent our husbands, and ACCEPT that that’s the way things are (especially after children). And you know what? I get it! Because I am human too. But I also have hope that it isn’t the way things have to be.
Disclaimer: This post is intended for women in relationships that have the everyday kind of frustrations. It is NOT intended for women in relationships with someone who is abusive, struggling with an active addiction, mental illness, or some other severe problem. Obviously, learning some new relationship skills would not be enough to improve the relationship and outside help would be necessary.
But first, a story and a video
Picture this, my husband gets from work, I’m busy making dinner. We get dinner on the table and I see the kids need to wash their hands, so I take it upon myself to get them to do it even though I am DONE. But, I think of my husband and how tired he must be so I do it. And I keep going.
After dinner the kids need a bath, and they need to brush their teeth, and read a story…and meanwhile my husband is relaxing, looking at his phone and I feel angry towards him even though I am trying to be a “good wife”.
I think many of us women worry so much about what other people are feeling and thinking, when we should first and foremost be tuned in to our own feelings. It is not selfish, it is practical so we can keep on loving at our best. We can only run on empty for so long before we blow up. It’s wonderful if your husband just knows to take over with the kids automatically, but if he doesn’t don’t let that be your excuse to keep things the way they are. You can’t hold your husband accountable for your emotional state. You are the master of your own happiness. When you do everything, you send the message to your husband that you don’t need his help, and he listens.
Imagine this scenario, your husband gets home from work and you had a long hard day. You warmly greet him and tell him that you are going to take a break in the bedroom. You come out refreshed, you have dinner, and when your kids ask things at the dinner table you defer them to your husband, so you can just STOP TALKING. I know it’s hard, because it means you will have to trust your husband’s leadership. There is a time and place to disagree, but if it’s over how many bites of broccoli and chicken Timmy has to eat before he leaves the table, I think you can let your husband take this one and it won’t jeopardize all the “enlightened parenting” you have done.
After dinner, you go take a shower and wash your face. You come out to find the dishes are done. You decide you are not up to giving the kids a bath, so you say “I can’t”, and retreat to your bedroom. Your husband does the whole bedtime routine, without you nagging him, and only calls on you to come kiss them goodnight. You are delighted and you receive his help graciously. Your husband strengthens his bond with the children, feels respected, and gets to have the honor of pleasing you.
So, are you a resentful wife or a surrendered wife?
Have you ever found yourself:
- Irritated towards your husband and you don’t know why
- Less attracted to your husband
- Annoyed about all the little things, like forgetting to put his socks in the hamper
- Frustrated at his lack of ambition
- Lonely because he’d rather watch T.V. or stare at his phone than be with you
- Angry with his lack of support with the kids
- Wishing he’d help out more around the house
- Feeling like you have to keep going and going like the energizer bunny because your husband won’t do it.
- You don’t extend any grace when he is sick or tired. It’s as if you think he “has no right”
Practical ways to transition from resentment to intimacy
Here are some practical ideas for you to regain intimacy with your husband. I turn to them again and again
- Acceptance. Accept reality. Accept that your husband may never put his underwear in the hamper consistently, even though he knows it bothers you. We are all human, and have bad habits and we can all be careless at times. I know I can be!
- When you flip out about something small your husband is doing that normally wouldn’t bother you, this is usually a red herring that you need some self care. Go take a nap, a shower, call a friend. If whatever it is is still bothering you after that, then address it when you are in the right state of mind.
- I don’t know exactly who this quote is from, I think it is Saint Paul, but let “Seek to outdo one another in generosity” be your mantra. If you have this mindset you won’t be so worried about what your husband is or is not doing, anyway. Also, check this out.
- Keep your eyes on your page. No peaking at his page! Reflect on your own shortcomings and try to improve. Reflect on your husbands strengths more than you ruminate on his weaknesses. Accentuate the positive.
- Practice gratitude. Keep a gratitude journal. Thank your husband for all the little things he does.
- Say “I can’t”when you are too tired or overwhelmed to do something. Practice vulnerability.
- Practice personal responsibility – he’s not responsible for your happiness, you are.
For more ideas, I highly recommend reading either The Surrendered Wife, or the Empowered Wife. Both are written by the same author. I prefer the Surrendered Wife because it has more specific scenarios. The Empowered Wife is like the updated version.
Even though you may nag your husband at times, become resentful, or disrespectful, you CAN make progress toward being the kind of wife you want to be. Even though your husband may be more distant than he used to be, you CAN restore the intimacy you once shared. Thank God, there’s hope!