In the first couple of months after a baby has entered your family, a couple’s arguments can be attributed to sleep deprivation, hormones, and being royally out of your comfort zone as a couple. A client described this period as “two people treading water”. Can you relate?
You are now a family. There are now chores that must be accomplished in order for the family business to run smoothly.
As marriage and family therapists, we want each of you to be aware that mundane tasks provide you with an opportunity to make your partner smile with gratitude.
That will happen when each of you do tasks you really don’t want to do.
There is nothing exciting, passionate, or even fun about these tasks. They are boring, mundane, and repetitive. Yet if you are willing to be involved your partner will be relieved that you aren’t expecting them to do it all. They will be grateful that you see these chores as something you are responsible for too. After all, if either of you were batching it, you’d be responsible, so that reality doesn’t change now that you have a baby.
Your partner will feel your empathy, not your entitlement!
Husbands, your thoughtfulness and your practical help will deeply affect your wife’s feelings for you. She won’t feel abandoned, ignored, or forgotten. Hopefully you have a wife who doesn’t want you to feel ignored, abandoned or forgotten either. Your willingness to help in practical ways may help this new mother find her way to being a wife who desires time with her husband.
In today’s blog we are suggesting that you both can affect the atmosphere in your home by the choices you make around the mundane topic of chores.
You can reduce the conflict in your home and men, single handedly, you can increase your wife’s desire for you. Your willingness to lend a helping hand just might help her transition from a mother to a woman to a lover.
After listening to couples in the counseling office warring over the topic of chores, we would like to offer 5 suggestions.
Suggestion # 1: Don’t Treat Your Partner as an Assistant!
Your mate’s input truly adds to the success of your parenting and family team. Be open to it. Expect that each of you will see things differently. Expect to have discussions about your disagreements. Remember that your spouse loves you, loves the baby and is invested in the best for everyone. Welcome their perspective and their participation. Do not make anyone bad for not seeing the world as you see it.
Suggestion # 2: Don’t Impose Your Standards on Your Mate!
“Women often want things done “just so”.
Men just want things done!”
It is helpful to decide which tasks are the really important ones (children’s diet, safety, etc.) and which fall under the minor domestic drudgery category. If it’s a really important task, talk until you come to a place of agreement about how it will be handled and by whom.
Accept your mate’s shortcuts, and learn from them. Eighty percent on many tasks is good enough. It does not matter if your in-laws raise their eyebrows when they visit.
You both get to determine what is “good enough” in your home. It may not feel like it today, but this period will pass. You will remember what you did with your baby more than you will remember how neat your house was.
Suggestion # 3: Do Divide and Conquer:
Create a list of the major tasks and the mundane tasks. Each of you chose the tasks that you are willing to do. If there are tasks left that neither of you want to do, divide them up. Then make an agreement
that you will alternate these tasks weekly, so one of you isn’t stuck with something you hate doing forever.
Do the task on your own time schedule. Then give your word that this task will be done by a certain date and time. You are 100 % responsible for your tasks. No one will remind you to follow through. Instead you can thank each other when a task is finished. After all, it means that everyone’s load is lighter. It also builds trust. Your spouse will see you as a person of your word.
What if a promise is empty and there is no action behind those words after the deadline has passed? Agree ahead of time that the guilty partner loses three hours of precious “freedom time” during which they agree to complete the chores.
After your tasks are done, don’t let your spouse know all the things you have done. Just do them because they need to be done. As any woman will tell you, housework is a thankless job. The two of you are partners in the family business. It will thrive if each of you carries your own load.
Your fair share is not a favor.
Suggestion # 4: Don’t Use the general “we”.
Remove any use of “we” that points out something your spouse needs to do. “We really need to get junior in bed before 9:30 PM.” “We need to send cards to my parents for their anniversary.” If you want something done and you are capable, do it. Your partner will be thrilled for the help. We promise that there will be an absence of teeth grinding in your home.
Suggestion # 5: Help Each Other Find “Freedom Time.”
Both of you must avoid self-neglect at all costs. Make a short list of the activities that bring you each pleasure. It’s perfectly okay to put naps on
that list. Then compare your lists and get your heads together to create space for each of you to do things that you enjoy.
This conversation may mean that some items on your “To Do List” may have to be moved to another week or removed altogether. Even if your mother dusted weekly, that doesn’t mean you have to. Let that go, without guilt so you are free to do something that brings you pleasure. It is no fun to be married to a martyr.
The happiest mates and the best parents are house broken!
Freedom time will enrich your life and will bring you back to your spouse and your baby, happy, renewed, grateful and longing to be with each other.
Until our next Conscious Lover’s Blog…