Do you ever find yourself washing the dishes and you look over at your husband and you realize the he, in fact, is not washing the dishes? In fact, he doesn’t seem to be doing much at all… and you’re pretty sure he got a nap today. You didn’t get a nap today. In fact, you did 100 things besides take a nap today. So why are you doing dishes again? Oh right, because you’re the maid, not the wife.
Does this thought process pang a little close to your heart? Does it sound familiar?
The funny thing is, (besides the fact that it’s completely not funny in the moment) that I was having thoughts a lot like this today. And I had just gotten done trying to encourage a woman who was struggling with feelings of resentment for her husband for something that happened a long time ago, telling her how destructive that can be….
I honestly felt like I had a an angel and a devil on each of my shoulders, remembering my earlier conversation, and then remembering that I felt like a maid at the time.
After a couple of over exaggerated huffs and puffs, Josh asked, “Are you being grumpy right now?” Grasping composure, I replied, “I would like you to ask me if I need help.” So he asked, I said yes, and then he helped.
A few months ago I ran a survey on Living the Sweet Wife for a couple of weeks. When I got to just about 1000 responses, I took it down and looked at the results. At first I was pretty surprised. And then, to be honest, I wasn’t so much. Because I could see the results of this survey in my own marriage. And I’m pretty sure I won’t be the only one.
Here’s a picture of the question and survey results I got:
As you can see, I asked LTSW readers,
“If you could pick one, what would be the reason for most disagreements between you and your spouse?”
(Take note that 96% of all LTSW readers are women, with the largest age group percentage falling between 25-34 years old, although other age groups aren’t far behind).
So as you could have guessed, the #1 reason for conflict in marriage is all about the monayyy. Ok, no surprise there. But look at number 2! I was sure it was going to be something like communication or lack of passion or something, but nope! It was BAD ATTITUDES! Although I was pretty surprised at first, I ended up nodding my head to that stat once I realized, “Yeah, I guess that’s pretty accurate.” In fact, that’s probably been the number one reason for conflict within my own marriage! (Josh and I are try pretty hard to be on the same page about money stuff).
So what’s the reason for all these bad attitudes in marriages?
I’ve thought about it and I’ve broken it down to two categories:
For some reason, there’s a crazy side of me that hopes I will come home to a house that is cleaner than how I left it that morning when I left for work. But when when I walk in the door and greet my toddler, who occupied himself by taking out all the dishes from the low cupboards, and my husband who found a few moments peace in letting him do so, my hopes die. I still get this weird expectation that after years of knowing my husband, that maybe today will be the day that he sees the mess without me pointing it out to him.
And while I’m pondering all this in my mind, he’s thinking, “Hey Chels! Glad you’re home!”
And then the grumbling starts happening. “Yeah I bet you are.”
When our expectations don’t get met, we start to feel feelings. Feelings like anger, resentment, maybe even disgust. We start to remember all the other times he didn’t jump to help with the dishes in the past. We might even begin to assume that he has no respect for us because he’s probably over there thinking that dishes are our job. We jump to a whole bunch of unfavorable conclusions and we begin to realize that we deserve better.
This my friends, is where it gets dangerous.
This thought of deserving better can catch fire and quickly bring so much pain into a marriage! That’s not to say that we aren’t to have expectations for our husbands, quite the contrary (read my post about putting up with husbands’ crap). But when thoughts of deserving better behavior and treatment turn into deserving someone better, that’s when the real danger rolls in.
This is when giving up on a marriage can become a real threat, even when you thought it never would. I’ve been able to tell that this is starting to happen in a marriage when a husband or wife no longer gets irked by the mess (or the thing they used to get frustrated by). They instead internalize the frustration and add bricks to the wall of resentment they started building a long time ago.
How to protect your marriage from resentment
First of all openly communicate your expectations and frustrations with your spouse. So many times when I become frustrated with my husband, I realize that he has no idea why! Try so hard to stay calm when confronting him, however many times you may have brought it up before.
Meet him halfway
If he’s a repeat offender, but willing to try, ask him what you need to do to make him remember. Josh and I have agreed that if I want something done while I’m away, I need to write it down on a piece of paper and leave it in a place that is extremely obvious. Otherwise, it’s like I never asked.
Give him the benefit of the doubt
Like I said in the first pointer, many times our husbands don’t even realize they’re missing the mark! Instead of assuming that your husband doesn’t care about you or is lazy, try assuming that however unaware, he does love you and respect you.
Don’t be an enabler!
I’ve had so many worn out, frustrated wives come to me telling me how their husbands don’t pitch in, they don’t help around the house, and they’re basically just another one of the children. I can’t help but think, however, that he became a lazy, entitled oaf overnight. If you find that your husband IS being lazy, make his life a little more difficult, don’t just step in because you know he won’t do it and then build up a wall of resentment. Responsibilities in a marriage do need to be shared and husbands do need to serve their wives. He might not be able to make your famous chicken dinner, but if you want a night off cooking, tell him where the pasta is, and if we won’t make the pasta, he can have some toast.
*This needs to be done with respect for your husband still in tact. Husband’s need to feel respected in order to step up to be the men they want them to be. Disrespecting them and tearing them down will only hurt our plans to help him help himself.*
Don’t forget your own flaws
When I find myself at the kitchen sink looking over at my husband on the couch, it’s especially easy for me to remember all the things he doesn’t do in those moments and to think of myself as better and more respectable than him. It’s not as easy to remember all the sacrifices my husband has made for me when I don’t deserve it, how he read books to our son while I slept in the other morning, or how his job provides for our family.
Either way, I don’t know about you guys, but when we said our marriage vows, we didn’t recite the words, “Until I end up doing more than my share of the work.” We said for better or for worse, in sickness and in health. I’m pretty sure we meant it back then, and we’re trying pretty hard to still mean it today.
How do you communicate to your husband that you need him to change something? Do you need to go to ridiculous lengths to make sure he remembers a task? Where have you left notes to make sure he sees them. Share your thoughts in the comments below and Tweet with the hashtags #sweetwife #marriedforlife
Love you all!