Having small children is SO HARD on your relationship. So many of us have trouble avoiding the resentment that comes up when it feels like we do ALL.THE.THINGS. Do you want your relationship to feel good again?
I am so pleased to share these tips from relationship coach Barbara Santen. Barbara shares her top 3 tips to feeling less (or no) resentment in your relationship and getting more help where you desperately want it.
Do you feel resentful that you “do everything” for the family? Your partner just doesn’t do anything that you do?
He should step-up, you think. He sees you struggle and you wonder why he’s not helping you?
This is one of the most common complaints of mothers. Yet, you hear fantasy stories of some husbands who do laundry, dishes, vacuum, and take out the trash.
Essentially, they do everything right. EVERYTHING. Plus they’re good-looking.
How is it that some people just have it all? How is it that those stories are always someone else’s? And, you wonder, “Why is my husband not like that?”
You’re asking the wrong question.
The question should be: What am I doing that’s different from those women who seem to have a perfect husband?
I know you’re sick of being blamed for everything that goes wrong in your relationship. I’m not blaming you, nor am I asking you to blame yourself. I’m asking you to consider what you contributed to this dynamic and how you can help shift it.
Because the only person you can control or change is you.
After two divorces I thought I should probably think about, even mildly consider, what my contribution was to my failed marriages. Was it just that I picked the wrong guy? Twice?
What I discovered and what ultimately gave me bliss in my current relationship is that I was the common denominator.
I’ll share with you a few things that I did differently this time and as a result feel the bliss and contentment that every woman craves.
Here are my top 3 tips to feeling less (or no) resentment and getting more help where you desperately want it:
1. Take care of yourself first.
How, you might ask, can I take care of myself when I barely have enough hours in the day to take care of my child/children, the household, grocery shopping and still don’t have time to shower?
Let me tell you a little secret: Self-care does NOT need to be a day at the spa, a vacation in Hawai’i, or even a manicure!
What? You may say, that’s what everyone out there is telling me to do! And as a new mom I. Just. Can. Not!
Do you know what the real secret is to self-care? Listening to yourself.
Listen to what you need, if you are exhausted because your baby has kept you up all night and all you want is to nap when the baby naps and eat cookies and takeout because you just can’t do it all, then DO THAT. Stop guilting yourself into oblivion. You will burn out!
Self-care literally means, caring for yourself. And only YOU can define what that looks like. If it means handing the baby over to your partner the second they walk in the door so you can go for a run, then do that.
But I’m NOT saying you should pick up running to properly know how to do “self-care.” If self-care to you means getting your groceries delivered for an extra $10 then DO THAT!
Don’t make self-care some unattainable thing that only rich, child-free, partner-free, job free, independently wealthy people get to do.
Start small and put yourself on your to-do list.
2. Stop. Doing. Everything.
I can hear the arguments right away: “But if I don’t do it no one will.” “How can I just stop doing everything?” “Sure, but I can’t stop doing xyz. My partner expects that I do xyz”.
The concept is foreign, I get it. But just try it. Start small.
It’s probably the most hard to believe suggestion I could make– But until you actually stop doing stuff, you won’t know what it feels like, and you also can’t say it’s not going to work.
If you just start with eliminating one or two things a day that cause you resentment, you will feel so much better. You’ll feel happier and lighter and actually be more productive as a result.
I PROMISE you: if you start weeding out the stuff that you don’t want to do, you will become much more easily in touch with what you can and cannot handle and it will feel amazing.
(It can change from day to day: one day you’ll happily and open-heartedly do the dishes, the next day it’ll cause you such resentment you could kill someone!)
You’ll ultimately accomplish WAY MORE and everyone around you (especially your partner and kids) will be so grateful you’re getting more clear on your own needs. They know where you stand, finally! And you are much less likely to snap at them or lose it over something seemingly benign.
3. Stop criticizing.
Somehow we think that if we don’t tell our partners what they’re doing wrong, we’re doing them a disservice.
Stop focusing on what annoys you and instead start focusing on what your partner is doing RIGHT.
Whatever we focus on grows and grows, whether it’s negative or positive. (Sarah talks about this with our children!)
So if all we’re focusing on is how lacking our partners are in the relationship, they’ll just appear more and more lacking and will even start to conform to your belief of their lacking. Trust me on this one too.
If you say “I really need help, you never help and I’m so overwhelmed and It would be so nice if you helped me every once in a while. I do everything around here!” How do you think your partner will feel? Shitty, guaranteed.
And if you want something of your partner, ask.
ASK. “Honey, I’d love help with the laundry.” Watch while your partner trips over themselves to help you.
If you’re partnered with a man, but this goes for anyone, you cannot EVER assume they can read your mind.
You’ve probably made sure you haven’t voiced your frustration for a while, in order not to sound naggy (because you vowed never to sound naggy).
But then when it does come out, it comes out as a complaint, instead of a desire. When you complain, you may as well be attacking your partner. A complaint inevitably comes across as an attack. Who wants to be helpful, loving and supportive when they’re being attacked? No one.
(Sarah adds: Yes, you shouldn’t have to ask. But let’s get your relationship feeling good again before we tackle that one, shall we? Just ask.)
So here’s how to stop feeling resentful in your relationship: Learn how to listen to your own needs first. Stop doing stuff you don’t want to do which will make you feel a thousand times better instantly. Catch yourself criticizing your partner. Get in touch with what you want and ask for it.
Just changing these three things will make a world of difference in your life.