I want to talk to you about some of the very costly tradeoffs you may not know you make. I know you’re busy with work, you’ve got a full calendar and a lot on your plate. I know you’re striving hard for that next promotion, the next career move or to finally mark that big project done. I know your aspirations for you and your family are high. Financial stability, close relationships and epic vacations are “in progress” and I know how bad you want to make them happen.
But I also know that it’s unlikely that you’re the husband reading this.
I know you’re the wife.
Maybe you’re just slipping a bit of scroll time in the midst of a busy day of carpool, laundry, or kid’s schedules. Or maybe you’re just looking for something to help you pause for a moment so you don’t strangle the flailing temper tantrum that is currently your child (or snarky teen)..I’m sorry I have to write this to you because I know you wish he would read this on his own.
And in true fixer fashion maybe you’ve even taken on the role of self-improvement in hopes that you might find the secret recipe for his change.
I know this because many of my clients are women when they should probably be men.
Your husband should be reading this because he should know how much you want for him. How much you hope for him. How much you want to depend and rely on him. And not just for the income or the food in the fridge. But for emotional support, stability, companionship, and intimacy. At this point, you might just long for friendship. Maybe you even need him to understand how he’s letting you down.
Every relationship is different but I know about the husband whose unsolicited way of helping his wife “get in shape” is to tell her when he thinks she has too much food on her plate. I can tell you about the husband who sits in his armchair and physically pushes his wife away when she tries to show affection. I can tell you about the many wives who have become second, or third place to a 5-inch screen with non-stop viewing of pornography, playing games, watching sports or endless newsfeeds. I know about the unspoken expectation that you remain in great shape while he jokingly embraces the “Dad bod” a satirical justification for poor health habits.
I know your pain all too well.
I know you sit by often as a silent supporter when the cheers of his accomplishments seem to take the podium, steal the conversation and permit celebration.
I know how little room that leaves for your personal accomplishment.
If he only knew how a little effort and intention could make his dreams come true. He could truly have it all. If he understood it isn’t a dollar amount or destination that matters to you. If he only knew how much you value a warm hello, a soft embrace, and undivided attention. How easily he could ask beyond “how was your day?” and discover your thoughts, opinions, desires and more. If he only understood that prioritizing his achievement doesn’t have to mean deprioritizing yours. If he could only see the sparkle in the kids’ eyes when all his attention is centered on them. If he could only see the sparkle fade when he reaches for his phone or retreats to his office or the big game.
It would almost be simple for him to change it all around.
He could easily be the guy you fell in love with again.
It would just take a new commitment, some reprioritization, and a little effort.
He believes you’ll wait. He believes all of it will happen when he clears the next hurdle. Then he’ll have time. Then he’ll have energy. Then he’ll change. Then you’ll have it all. You’ll be patient. The kids will be patient. After all, he believes this is all for you.
But he doesn’t know you won’t. He doesn’t know you can’t.
And if by some chance I have it wrong, and you are the husband reading, don’t get mad, just do better. I have yet to see a husband (myself included) or wife who does it perfectly. (my wife is darn close though) What’s great though, perfection isn’t what our wives really want from us, it’s persistence.
Start by asking her (if you dare) “hey, what can I do to be a better husband to you?”. Don’t balk, don’t justify, don’t argue. just listen. Then work on it. Everyday. A little at a time. Don’t wait or expect her to shower you with praise when you do well for a day or a week or even a month. Just check in again and say “hey wife, I sure love you, how do you think I’m doing at this thing, how can I do better?” Then get back to work.
Marriage is awesome but only if you make it that way.