Carlton and I have been in a real good place lately. We’ve been agreeing on everything, haven’t had any major disagreements, and we’re making sure to connect emotionally and spiritually (and even sexually!) on a regular basis—so all is well in married land….
Or so we thought!
Last week we went to our counselor for a check in and she asked all of the typical counselor questions to start off the session:
- How have you all been doing?
- What has life been like for you since I last saw you?
- Has anything changed in your marriage?
If these questions were on a test we would’ve passed with flying colors. Mrs. Sylvia (our counselor) said “Wow, it sounds like you two are doing really well, no issues!” And then came the next question – “Can you tell me about your last argument?”
Carlton and I both looked at each other and said we honestly haven’t had an argument recently. However, after some deep thought Carlton pointed out that a recurring theme that always seems to come up is that he feels as if I don’t think he does enough and that I’m constantly tired and feeling stretched all of the time. I looked at him with the side eye and said NO, I never said you don’t do enough! Do I feel stretched and tired? Yes, but it has nothing to do with you and more with me being a busy wife and mom and feeling like I have a lot to do to keep everything running smoothly.
I looked at Mrs. Sylvia and gave her an example. A few months ago I had to go to a conference for work and I made sure to get everything ready so Carlton wouldn’t have to do anything while I was gone for a few days:
- Cooked all their meals before I left
- Ironed the kids’ clothes and put all their outfits together
- Cleaned the house
I wanted to make sure everything was perfect while I was gone. I then went on to explain that even though I did everything before I left I still decided to come home early because I know what it’s like to go to work, get the kids from school, do homework, get dinner on the table and then end up exhausted at the end of the night—and I didn’t want Carlton to feel stretched to the max like I am most days.
Mrs. Sylvia said “Let me stop you right there. Do you think Carlton is capable of handling everything?” I was a little puzzled by her question, but I replied “ Of course I do.” Mrs. Sylvia then took it a step further and asked me, “Since Carlton didn’t ask you to come home early, what do you think coming home early from your conference signaled to him?”
It was in that instant that I had an Ah-ha moment! My counselor’s line of questioning revealed a couple things to me:
- While I was saying with my words I think Carlton is capable, my actions were actually saying the complete opposite. While Carlton felt like he was very capable in his mind, my actions still made him feel like he wasn’t doing enough. This reminded me that it is important to make sure that what I say and what I do are consistent.
- I feel the need to control EVERYTHING. My actions said to my husband that I don’t trust you and my way is the RIGHT way, the only way. Think about it, how many times do we get upset with our husbands for doing something that we ask them to do. But why? It’s because he doesn’t do it the exact way we would have done it, so we go behind him, redo it, and then ultimately find ourselves being TIRED and possibly a little resentful. Maybe sometimes we feel stretched and overwhelmed when we don’t have to be. It’s okay for our husbands to do things, they are capable—even if their way is COMPLETELY different from how we would do it.
- Even though we didn’t have a huge argument to reflect back on, counseling uncovers issues and concerns that maybe small now but if you don’t address them early on they can turn into REAL problems.
After this eye opening conversation, the bigger and more important question for me was, how do I take steps to change my approach to this situation? I knew I would have to start with learning to relinquish control – spoiler alert…that will always be difficult for me but showing my husband that I think he’s capable is more important than always doing things my way.
For me, relinquishing control looks like agreeing to disagree when Carlton does the shopping and comes home with a different brand of laundry detergent than I would have bought or being okay with him putting outfits together for the children that I wouldn’t necessarily would have picked out. In both cases everyone has always survived with no long lasting scars.
Beyond those tangible action steps, the other thing that I have to do is to consciously shift my overall mindset regarding my approach to my role as a wife and as a partner in our marriage. I have to tell myself that my husband is capable and if I take on too many tasks unnecessarily (or simply worry about too many tasks), it will only result in me feeling burned out and resentful.
Do you ever find yourself feeling this way too? Are you feeling burned out and overworked, yet you know you have a capable husband? If so, I encourage you to take a moment this week to evaluate if you are piling more onto your plate than you have to and to then look for ways to lighten your load. And if your husband is doing all that he should be doing and the cause of some of your stress simply comes from you holding on to things that you shouldn’t be its ok to let him know that “It’s not you, it’s me” . I’m sure it’ll be a load off for him too.