We all know if mom isn’t happy, no one is. A staggering 70% of mothers report feeling stressed out most of the time (my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/stress-and-women). If you are married to a stressed out mom, you may be wondering, how can I make my wife happy so we can all get our comfy lives back? First let’s understand why she is stressed to begin with- just in case you didn’t know.
I recently polled a number of moms for a book I am writing for crazy busy women (not crazy, just crazy busy. Hopefully they’ll find the time to read it). A common theme among these stressed moms was struggling with a lack of time to get everything done, feeling guilty if they did anything for themselves and a constant nagging feeling that they are not good enough or doing any of their jobs super well. These women are experiencing a million constant demands from kids, husbands, school, work, family…… do I really need to explain more?
Here are a few things you can do to help out the stressed mom in your life:
Don’t ask her if she got something done- No, she didn’t get it done! She probably would have told you if she did. Asking her about it just makes her feel inadequate and reminds her of another ball she dropped today. And it doesn’t mean that you aren’t important to her or that you aren’t high on her priority list. You are. She can only do two or three things at a time (yes, multi tasking is a necessity) and she hasn’t gotten to it yet. Try talking about it to jog her memory, but please don’t ask her if she’s gotten it done yet! Even better, take care of it yourself and let her know that you did in a way that doesn’t make her feel like a failure. This will take a ton off her shoulders and she will go crazy with appreciation for you- you might even score a sexual favor!
Give her a back, foot or body rub without expecting anything afterwards- Speaking of sexual favors, believe me, most women want sex too, but it’s the bait and switch massage that kills it for us! The beauty of getting a spa massage, besides the fact that it lasts longer and is done by a professional, is that afterwards, she can be all zenned out and relaxed and no one expects anything from her. If you want to give a massage as foreplay, just be clear about it. She will probably be game. Otherwise, your wife would be so grateful for a wonderful massage that makes her go to sleep and drool on the sheets. And don’t wake her up. Give her an extra treat by cleaning up the dinner dishes.
Surprise her with some “me” time- that she can actually have. I know you are well meaning when you see your wife running around like a crazy woman and you suggest that she takes a break or relaxes for a minute. The problem is that she can’t do that unless someone takes over her job for a minute. Your seemingly caring comment actually makes her angry because that‘s what she would love to do, but you have to give her the ability to do it. This means that you take care of all the details and take the kids and whatever responsibilities she has at that time and give her a real break. Whether it’s 15 minutes or 2 hours, it will be appreciated.
Plan a Date: from start to finish. Check the kid’s activities, check her calendar, find some free space. Schedule the babysitter and then tell her in advance so she doesn’t schedule anything else. Half the fun of a date night is looking forward to it. Most stressed moms would love to go out, but the idea of planning and taking care of the details on top of the other trillion things on her to-do list is exhausting. Let her relax and enjoy your company without having to micro- manage the whole event. This is a win win situation.
Listen to Her: No, really, listen. I wrote an article (http://www.yourtango.com/2016297878/you-must-stop-thinking-men-magically-know-what-women-want) explaining to women that men express their love by problem solving for their women. So, I know that’s your first go-to and your desire to solve her problem comes from a place of caring for her! I wish for all of our sakes that women actually felt your love when you start problem solving. But we don’t. The reality is that often we need to just vent and we want to feel heard and understood. This actually helps alleviate much of our stress. Believe me, she values your opinion and will actively seek it out. But when she’s not seeking, she just wants to vent. Don’t try to make sense of it. Just listen, nod and make some comments (comments, not grunts) that indicate that you are listening. If you actually remember what she said a few days later, you get a million bonus points for asking her how things are going with the two women on the PTA that destroyed her day. Note: a million bonus points = high possibility of sex later.
Notice: Nothing takes the wind out of her sails more than when you don’t notice that she actually took the effort to go that extra mile. I know this goes for you as well and wives need to work on that one too. When you walk in the house and you see a sparkling clean kitchen, It probably makes you feel good and you may be appreciative, but you may forget or it doesn’t cross your mind to verbalize it. Say something! Try to make a habit of verbalizing any positive thing that you notice that indicates your wife is making an effort. When you verbalize it, you reinforce it and the behavior has a greater chance of continuing.
Help Her Find Her Self and Passion Again: Over time, you both may have bought into the idea that her identity is mainly as a mommy and a wife. There are no 2 purposes greater than those roles, but they aren’t all of who she is. You must let her know that you see her as the totality of who she is (herself, mother, wife, friend, employer). If she feels that you don’t really see and understand her, she will feel frustrated and Angry- and of course, stressed.
What are her passions? What gets her excited? What did she love to do when you met her? That part of her did not disappear, it’s just buried under all the roles and responsibilities she has today. By talking to her about her passions and desires for her life, you are reinforcing your love and care for her. And if you are the spark that reignites and supports her love for her life again, you will have a happy, less stressed mom and you become the hero problem solver!
Remember, she has a ton of things on her plate right now. The best way to get what you want- a happy wife- is to give her what she needs- appreciation, recognition and a few breaks every now and then.
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