The resentment/blame game falls on a broad spectrum. We all fall victim from time-to-time, even if to the smallest degree. Falling victim to the “game” isn’t the problem. After all, we are all human, right? How you move forward is what matters.
Having our son caused my husband and I to look at things in a new light. After having our son, we immediately entered this “tired, overworked, over stimulated, just fumbling around” little world. Our leisurely nights spent curled up on the couch were gone and our workload doubled….in addition to waking up at night. Both of us were guilty of noticing the things the other person “did not do” or magnifying the things we did. Everything was fine while I was home because I took care of nearly everything around the house. This “game” didn’t start until I returned to work. As you can all relate, when you have a child you are always “on.” You can’t sit and read after having a bad or incredibly long week. You can’t just “check out” and decompress when you get home from work. No; you have to smile, play, tickle, and run around the house pushing a car that your son loves to ride but can’t quite push himself. It is exciting and exhausting all at the same time.
Right about the time I started back to work, my son entered this gassy/fussy phase. It seemed like it lasted forever. In reality, it only really lasted about a month. We both worked all day, came home to a baby who just felt miserable, and then fumbled through a nightly routine of spending 30+ minutes trying to get a crying baby to sleep. It was hard on all three of us. The good news is that once Kaden could burp and pass gas on his own then he was completely cured.
I remember one particular day when my husband and I were both spent and really tired. I was mad because I always did the bedtime routine, and he was mad because he always cleaned the bottles. (I quit breastfeeding by that point. Here is my story.) At that moment, we both thought we did more than the other and we just wanted 10 minutes to relax.
We sat down and talked about everything on our minds. My husband told me that he let me do the bedtime routine every night because he thought I really enjoyed that time with Kaden. He told me that he’d do it if I wanted him to. I immediately pulled back. Surprisingly, I didn’t want to give it up. I love stroking my son’s hair while he eats and relaxes, I love how he laughs when I brush his teeth before laying him down, and I love how he looks at me while rubbing my cheek. We continued to go back-and-forth, talking about our perception of how the workload was being divvied up. The conversation made us realize that we both do a lot. Yes, I may cook almost every night, but my husband mows every 4 days in the summer. He cleans the bottles every night so they are ready in the morning. He lets me sleep in EVERY Saturday morning while he takes care of Kaden. He cleans the litter box and vacuums and helps with laundry…and…. Do you get my point? Since that conversation, we’ve done a good job avoiding the resentment/blame game. Any time I’m tired and just want to relax, I just think about how much I really do love that time with my son and I think about all the other tasks my husband does to make my job easier. He does the same. It isn’t that we don’t get in a slump; we just don’t let those brief thoughts get to us or build in our minds. At the same time, our eyes have been opened to the other’s stress. My husband will come home early and cook from-time-to-time and I’ll vacuum the floors for him so he can relax.
The Moral of the Story:
- Communicate! Often problems escalate because people don’t talk. Tell one another what’s on your mind and listen to what they have to say. Be open-minded and respectful.
- It’s all about perspective. Remember that each of you perceive a situation differently. In the example I gave above, my husband “let” me do the bedtime routine because he could tell how much I loved it. I, on the other hand, thought that he was pushing it on me because he was ready to “check out” and relax. It is all about perspective. If you don’t talk then you’ll never see where the other person is coming from.
- Consider the whole story. Start thinking about what the other person does do, rather than what they don’t do. When you start to consider the whole picture, you might notice that the duties are pretty well divided and that the other person really does contribute.
- You are a team. You chose to go through life together. You chose to have children together. Look at it as “we” instead of “I” and work together.
- Relax. If you are stressed and there is something that isn’t pressing, then put it off. It is ok to skip doing laundry to keep your sanity. Read the post about my laundry dilemma here. At the same time, don’t worry about a chore left undone by your husband or wife. Realize they are just as busy and also need time to relax.
It’s Friday, which means the weekend has started. Weekends are usually more relaxed and make for better opportunities to have needed conversations. It is much easier to discuss things when you aren’t completely stressed. So, take time this weekend to obliterate this “game” and start next week on a better track.