Today, we’re going to talk about something that might be a little bit sensitive – working with your spouse. I work with a lot of different women, and I see a lot of different situations. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of different ways that men are NOT supportive of their wives. It saddens me that we have to have these conversations, but it’s the reality of the situation. There are so many unsupportive husbands out there, and that’s hard. It’s hard to run a business, try new things, take care of yourself, etc. when you’re not getting support from your husband.
One of the reasons this saddens me the most is because I know, if roles were reversed, there would be no questions. Our husbands go to work 9 to 5 as expected, they go to the gym when they want to go to the gym, they go to lunch with their coworkers when they want to go to lunch, they go to the dentist, they don’t have to arrange childcare most of the time. They know it’ll taken care of at home. BUT, when women need to go to the dentist, work, lunch, the gym, etc. it’s a fight and a battle. Some of us have supportive husbands who would never bat an eye and take care of it all. Even with the most supportive husbands, it still falls on the women to find childcare, arrange schedules, and make it all work. There’s already so much on our plates, and we are dealing with reverse expectations. So when we want to start a business or a new hobby, the answer is no. There’s often no room for negotiating, and it can be rather devastating. I have seen this first hand A LOT. It’s not just one woman, it’s dozens of women that I have coached. These women are feeling stuck because of the lack of support from their husbands.
Now, working with our spouse isn’t just for when things are bad. I have to use all of these different tools on a daily basis because of how my business is currently running. Over the years, my business has evolved and I have just as many important work things to do as my husband does.
1 – Communication
Communication is so important and so overlooked. I think often times, we think we’ve communicated by what we’ve said (or what we haven’t said and think they should pick up on) or by our actions. Maybe one time we’ve shared our dream, and we expect them to remember it years later. Open communication, where we’re telling our spouse exactly what we need, when we need it, etc. is vital. We cannot expect them to read our minds. Yes, we can read their minds, their expressions, and their actions most of the time. BUT, most men do not operate like we do. They need and want us to spell it out to them clearly. When I said “clear”, I do NOT mean blunt and rude. We need to communicate clearly in a kind and considerate way. For example: “I am feeling this way when you do this. I realize that these are my feelings, and I am taking accountability for them, but it would really help me when I need to do this if you would do this.” Whatever it is, the clearer you are about how you’re feeling and how they can help, the easier it’s going to be. I think the communication needs to go both ways, too. They need to be communicating their feelings to you. Again, in a kind and considerate manner. I know a lot of us want them to read our minds, but they’re not going to. I’ve learned that they NEED us to tell them exactly how we need their help and support.
2 – Resentment is a choice
If you resent your spouse for working, not helping with the kids, etc. – that’s a choice. Your feelings are a choice. Now, I’m not saying they’re wrong. When our husbands expect things from us that are unrealistic or unfair, I get riled up. Sometimes, I want to choose anger and a bad mood. BUT when we choose these feelings, we aren’t helping anything. Often, we will find ourselves in a bad mood (and they generally don’t even notice) instead of communicating clearly about our needs, wants, and feelings.
I have had several coaching clients that have come to me and said, “my husband doesn’t want me to work outside of the home” for whatever reason. Maybe it’s because he doesn’t want the kids to be watched by someone else, or maybe it’s because he doesn’t want me to spend money on something he thinks won’t work out, etc. There’s lots of reasons husbands have, and quite frankly, I think they’re all silly. Instead of doing what these women wanted to do, they said “my husband won’t let me”, they chose to be resentful, and angry. They thought they were keeping the peace by not doing what they wanted to do, but they were really doing the opposite. There’s no peace in resentment, anger, and defeat.
You can choose to let your husband tell you what you can and cannot do, then resent him for it, OR you can look for ways to stand up for yourself.
3 – Stand Up for yourself
It is so important to stand up for yourself. You will likely spend your whole life putting yourself on the backburner. You let everyone else do what they want to do, be who they want to be, explore so many things, etc. Sadly, you’ll get to a point when your kids are gone where you look back and say, “I don’t even know who I am.” Maybe your husband has all these hobbies, interests, friends, experiences, etc. You need to ask yourself, “what do I do for ME?” You can serve everyone all day long, but you also need to include yourself in that service. You must stand up for your needs, your mental health, your hobbies, your talents, what you want to do, etc. Your needs are just as important as your family’s needs. If you continue to put yourself on the backburner, you won’t be able to serve at your fullest capacity. You will experience burnout, mental health issues, and resentment (remember: it’s a choice).
4 – Find help that’s NOT your husband
A lot of people make the excuse: “… because my husband can’t/won’t/is unavailable.” There are so many ways to get help besides your husband. There’s childcare, there’s neighbors, there’s daycares, there’s trading with other families, there’s school, etc. There are so many resources. Maybe your husband’s schedule is so crazy busy that there’s really no time that he can be there to help with the kids. That’s when you look somewhere else. Don’t make the excuse that you can’t do something because of your husband’s schedule. Honestly, I think my marriage got better when I stopped expecting my husband to be the person who swaps me out. It may be tricky, but it’s worth it.
5 – Therapy is awesome
However you do it, and whether you do it together or by yourself, therapy is awesome. Having a mediator in the middle of these big struggles and compromises is so helpful. Mediators can help create harmony within your marriage.
It’s not easy to have both partners working and pursuing their dreams, but when you can work together with the tools you have, it can be so good! Work together with your spouse to assure that both of your needs and desires are being met. Your marriage and family will get a whole lot better!
Episode 125. Working With Your Spouse