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7 Things I Didn’t Realize I Was Doing Wrong Trying To Be A Good Wife

7 Things I Didn’t Realize I Was Doing Wrong Trying To Be A Good Wife

Being in a committed relationship is a big deal – for me, at least. I’ve always been very independent, so when I met my future husband, it seemed like it was my first relationship, even though we’d been dating since high school. Those relationships seemed like child’s play compared to the commitment we shared, so I had to learn a lot about what I’d done in previous relationships, and what I’d done on my own, and why it wouldn’t work in a marriage. As a result, I found there were quite a few things I was doing wrong trying to be a good wife.

1. I thought my husband’s happiness was my responsibility.

I know everyone has to be happy with themselves, I really do. But when you’re in such a serious, committed relationship, it’s easy to feel responsible for the other person. Because when he’s around me, all his troubles should fade away, right? Wrong! I had to stop and think, “OK, when I’m cranky, does being around someone else automatically make me better? No.” So why was I expecting myself to be that magic potion for him? Just because he’s unhappy or cranky or angry doesn’t mean I did anything wrong, and it doesn’t mean I have to “fix” him. In fact, sometimes when I try to smooth over an issue, he’ll ask me to stop because he needs time to be angry and blow off steam. I had to learn to step back and let him handle his own emotions, and take myself out of that equation.

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2. I wasn’t confronting the issues.

It was too easy to think life was happier if the dust was just shoved under the rug. In reality, that made me angrier about small things because I wasn’t bringing them to my spouse’s attention. Once I started bringing up issues I had, I realized he had done the same thing! We had hidden a variety of problems from each other because we wanted the relationship to always seem happy and smooth. Truthfully, no relationship is like that. We all have problems and part of the joy of marriage is knowing you have a partner who will help you through tough times. After we started sharing every problem, big or small, it was so much easier to deal with daily life, even when there were no problems! We started talking more about positive things and stuff we had done during the day, too, so confronting problems actually opened up our conversations!

3. I was doing all of the domestic work.

I’ve lived on my own most of my adult life; even with roommates, you’re still responsible for your own chores. As a result, I always think I need to do everything myself. I wash my own dishes, I do my own laundry, I take the trash can to the curb on pick-up day. In reality, this isn’t how it should be. When you’re married, you’re in a partnership, and both people need to take responsibility for what needs to be done. After we talked about it, I found my husband actually wanted to do some of these chores! He wanted to feel needed, and he didn’t think of household chores as “woman’s work.” Now he is in charge of doing the laundry every week, taking care of the yard, putting out the trash, and washing the dishes on alternating nights. He also likes cooking and grilling dinners! It’s such a load off my shoulders knowing not only do I have someone to help juggle these chores, but he actually wants to do so.

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4. I was always saying yes.

My husband loves art and painting, and would often ask me to paint with him. I was flattered because to say I’m not very artistic is being generous, and I love doing things with him – especially collaborating on something he loved that might hang in our home. But the more he asked me to do this with him, the more I realized it was taking away my free time. I didn’t have as much time to read or write as I used to, and as a result I felt more stressed because I wasn’t getting my creative outlet. Same as when I stopped say yes every time he wanted company to run an errand. Sometimes you just need to hold your ground and say no to something, even if it’s not a major issue. Did it hurt me to take time to paint with him, or run to the store with him? No, but it took away free time I craved. Always saying yes to someone – whether it’s your husband, another family member, friends, co-workers – means you feel walked on, like you don’t matter as much as they do. You need to be OK with putting your foot down and saying no to things that might give you more time, space or happiness.

5. I always thought I was right.

This might just be my problem, not one all wives have, but I think it’s big enough to be mentioned. A lot of the time I thought I was right because I had lived on my own more, or because I had been more independent, or because it was stuff women were just “supposed” to know more about. I tried to always speak with authority and sound confident, but in reality, I often didn’t know if I was more correct than him. I had always been so independent I felt like letting a man be right meant I was weak or dumb. It took me time to let him be right, but I realized he’s actually a really intelligent man – I wouldn’t be with him if he weren’t!

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6. I expected him to read my mind.

I know how to get people to talk to me, and so I always ask a lot of questions to try and learn what they’re going through and what might help them. So I expect others to do this for me, too. I don’t come home and volunteer information about what happened during my day and how it made me feel. I expected my husband to read my body language and, yes, read my mind and see I was unhappy, then go about talking to me and soothing me on his own. This never happened. It’s just not how people work! He told me he was hurt when I didn’t share with him, because he has always been very open about his days and his emotions. So I started trying to make sure I told him things I’d done, or how I felt, and he started making a point to ask me about certain things so I’d know he wanted me to open up to him.

7. I put other things before him.

This is probably the hardest point for me to get over, and I bet I haven’t really stopped yet. Because I’ve always lived on my own and done things for myself, I can’t get over the mindset I need to do everything, and I need to do it now. Those dishes are stacked on the counter and have to be washed – now! The floor needs to be vacuumed – now! I want to crawl in bed and read a book – now! I know it aggravates my husband because he is much more laid back – especially about housework! But sometimes he just wants to cuddle and talk, or sit on the couch, or watch a movie. I always feel like I need to get things done, or multitask, and this makes him think I don’t want to be with him. I’ve explained to him how my brain works when it comes to this, but it’s not enough to tell in words – I have to show him with my actions. So now when I get frantic about housework or my never-ending to-do list, I take a deep breath and melt into his arms and enjoy being with him.

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Featured photo credit: Matthew Hogan via flickr.com

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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