I have a confession to make: my marriage isn’t perfect.
Often in session, a client will remark “I bet you never have fights like this” or “I bet your marriage is perfect.” My typical response to this type of statement is, “It’s hard being married to a marriage therapist!” We really do love our marriage but we have to work on it just like everybody else does…sometimes even harder because of my career. Nobody’s marriage is easy, but nothing worth it ever is.
Having a great marriage takes a village, and I talk through the points of tension in our marriage with my trusted friends, just like I hope you do. During one such conversation about “the division of labor” at our house, a friend of mine stated, “I never ask my husband to do anything for me that I can do myself.” Immediately, it was one of those ideas that rang true to me at my core. Somehow, I had convinced myself that I was being a good wife by being inclusive on things that I needed to just knock out myself.
I am naturally a very independent person, and was warned before we ever got married that I would need to be mindful to be part of a team and not do my own thing. That idea, plus the fact that I will always always always rope anyone I can into helping me with any chore I need to do so I can selfishly have a witness to my hard work (and because I just need to be social in order to be productive in all things “manual labor”) resulted over time in the habit of me asking my husband to do a lot of things for me around the house. Let’s change the wall color. Put this in the attic. Help me with the dishes. Help me fold the laundry. Hang this curtain rod. You know the type of thing I’m talking about.
I went home that evening and told my dear, sweet husband, that I was very thankful that he had been willing to help me in all those ways but I now understood how adding things like that to his “to do” list was unnecessary and unintentionally disrespectful. I relinquished him from duty and declared, “I’m going to stop asking you for help with things I can do myself.”
Big mistake. Huge.
My intention was to allow my husband more time to relax (together or alone) or work on his own tasks at home (on top of his full-time day job, he has 2 LLC’s). What resulted was exactly that…when I stick to it. Because old habits are hard to break, I hear a lot of “isn’t that something you could take care of yourself?” spoken by my charming husband with a twinkle in his eye. Suffice it to say, he’s taken to it more quickly than I have. But it’s still good for him…and for me…to get into this new habit.
The truth is that I had never even thought about doing things differently in this regard, but as soon as I did, I saw the positive implications right away.
- It’s a blessing on your marriage. It energizes the marriage because it removes an unnecessary tax on the system.
- It reduces the chance of an argument.
- It removes the chance for resentment and frustration with unmet needs and an unaccomplished looming to-do list.
- It honors our husbands’ time and energy spent in all of the other types of work they do throughout the day.
- It signifies value and highlights their efforts in what they willingly give of their own volition.
- Bonus: it makes you feel like She-Ra to wield power tools.
If you’re interested in energizing your marriage, try this different approach and see if you like the outcome.
Pro-tip: don’t tell your husband. Trust me, he’ll notice.
As always, if this brings up any larger issues for you, please feel free to contact me directly.
Counseling appointments available in Baton Rouge, Denham Springs and Walker, Louisiana.