I want to say, first of all, that I am writing this post from a place of experience—not judgement. I’ve been there, ladies. I’ve been frustrated, overworked, overwhelmed, and angry. I have felt like the responsibility of raising the children, maintaining my household, paying our bills and making our meals was entirely on me. It’s a terrible place to find yourself.
I had a spouse with a rigorous and demanding job. He brought home good money and needed to rest afterward. In the meantime, I was at home with the kids . . . counting down the minutes until he would arrive and help me out. Each night, I got more upset with how things actually played out.
We would have discussions about our workload and making things more equitable. But what I mostly wanted to do was complain. I figure that if he understood my role and my work a little better, he would be more compassionate. The conversations themselves were always wonderful. We would feel closer to each other and end on a high note. Then the next day, things would go straight back into a unending routine.
It took some outside help to figure out what *I* was doing wrong. Not him, me. Here are three easy steps that took me years to figure out. Steps that improved my marriage, my stress level, and my understanding of how a marriage can improve even when it seems beyond saving.
Stop Treating Him Like a Child
When our kids are cold, we tell them to put on a jacket. We make lunches. We draw baths. We make appointments. It’s part and parcel of what makes us parents. But when we begin coddling our partner, we are not helping them out. We are illustrating that we do not respect them. That we do not recognize that they are adults and capable of handling their own s(^%.
In the end, they will likely not thank you for the things you are doing that go beyond normal spousal support. They will resent you. It will eat at your partnership and the balance you maintain as equals. So cut it out.
Start Expressing Appreciation
How wonderful does it feel when someone—your kids, your family, a friend—points out the hard work you’re doing and pays you a compliment? It feels fantastic. Life-affirming, even. Do the same with the person you’ve signed up to live out the rest of your life with—it means even more coming from your love.
Get Help with Money Management
It is estimated that 1 out of three arguments in a marriage are about money. 33%. One third. That is a LOT of discussion about money coming in, how to save, how to spend, how to invest, and how to prepare for retirement. Most people don’t get together because they hold the same views about income. They get together for a billion other reasons. Then, suddenly, you’re considering a mortgage or a third baby or the Jeep dies in the driveway. Money is a big deal.
I’ve found a few ways to approach the money issue that are helpful. My #1 tip is to get outside help. A money manager who has no emotional investment in your situation will be 100% honest about the way you should treat your paycheck. Someone solid will also provide a map or timeline to reach your goals with concrete steps to get there, whether you want a college savings fund or a million dollars by age 65.
I’ve also found a lot of helpful tips in reading books or listening to podcasts about money. Dave Ramsey, Suze Orman, Jean Chatzky are all great. Start checking out episodes and choose the individual you relate to most. You want to be educated and informed, so ditch the expert if you feel like you’re being spoken down to instead of lifted up.
These three tips have truly changed my life for the better. They have improved our ability to communicate with each other about the stuff that makes us happy and the stuff that makes us sad. I’m committed to life with this man, so I’m grateful I was able to find ways to connect and get on the same page.
Do you have any tips you would add to this list? Comment below! And read more about sex and intimacy in marriage here.