The title for this post may seem a bit misleading at first. Especially for the husbands out there.
Maybe you haven’t thought about this before, husbands. Did you know that in some small way your life may be in danger once your wife’s energy capacity reaches zero? You just never realized how close to the chest you were playing it before now.
For instance, if you clip your toenails and leave them on the floor after she’s been awake all night with sick, screaming children: you’re probably in danger.
If you walk in the door at the end of the day and find your house messy after she’s dealt with potty training, kids fighting over Lego’s, a flat tire and a dog who puked on the carpet, and you ask, “soooo, what did you do all day?”: you’re probably in danger.
If she collapses into a sweat-pants-wearing heap on the bed next to you with messy hair, wearing that old t-shirt from high school that she wouldn’t want anyone to know that she still has, (and you had better not tell) bags under her eyes and you ask,”are you tired or something?”: you’re probably in danger.
That is, once she takes a nap or actually manages to get six uninterrupted hours of sleep you’ll be in danger. Just you wait, mister. Just you wait until she gets up from where ever she’s sitting. Then you’ll be sorry….
I was trying to broil chicken earlier tonight. And it was all that I could do to stand barefooted by the stove, blink away the fog from my eyes and nom on the chocolate Teddy Grahams I’d made a bowl of. That was a graceful effort in multitasking. Because that’s all I had energy for.
Don’t think that the irony of my standing over a hot stove while simultaneously pregnant and barefoot escaped me. And no, I really don’t care if I’m using the word “irony” correctly in this case. Correct uses of literary devices be darned!
Sometimes, I’m trapped by these people who keep asking me to feed them. It’s almost like they know where I live or something. And they feel the need to keep coming back to ask things of me.
I know that you, too, may also be exhausted, husbands. I get it. The workforce is not all rainbows and baby unicorns. I’ve been there.
It’s just that I can only speak from the point of view of the wife. And if I’m tired, I know I’m not the only woman out there who shares my sentiments. That is, if we even have the brainpower to think let alone hold any type of sentiment that isn’t all about wanting coffee.
Husbands, I know that sometimes, we wives devolve into something that…doesn’t even resemble your wife. We’re part machine, – running against some imaginary clock, trying to get the job done – and part animal – we hungry, we sleepy, we want sit on sofa with coffee so everyone need move out of way.
We can be…almost scary.
You might not know what to do. You might not know how to get through to us and bring us back to reality. You’re willing to help but might not know where to even start.
How do you get your wife back?
I’ve been there with my husband, that’s for sure. Able and willing, just not sure what that looked like in that particular moment.
The truth is, learning how to encourage and help one another is an art form that takes practice. From both parties in your marriage. Thankfully, I’m married to someone who gets it and is incredibly helpful and supportive.
I’m happy to pass on some of the knowledge that I have gained by actually being served by my loving husband these past nine years. I’m glad that I can be here to help.
So, here are a few tips for surviving your tired wife, while maybe even giving her a glimmer of hope.
Take the kids…
It seems so simple, right? I’ll build upon this later, but for now – let’s start here.
Take them outside. Take them to the park. Take them to play upstairs. Just take them….away. From her.
Literally, sometimes all it takes is a thirty minute chunk of time where the sound of small, squeaky voices are absent for her to find herself again. Even if only a bit.
Let her out of the house…
If you love something, set it free.
If you really, really love something, set it free with a bunch of its girlfriends, some mexican food and margaritas.
The trash goes out more than your wife goes out without the children in tow. And there is just something about going out without small people attached to you that makes all the difference. There is something about walking unimpeded across the street or ordering your food without being interrupted by your child’s requests for your smart phone.
Us moms can’t explain it, but it’s as true and unavoidable as the laws of physics.
You can plan an evening out well in advance OR you can be a total gangster and surprise her with your spontaneous spontaneity skills and tell her to get out. Like, right now.
You’ll finish the dishes while she heads to Target, buys a coffee and peruses commercial goods in the wild, where she might happen upon other moms also lucky enough to venture out and who share her affinity for candles.
She’s a peacock, you gotta let her fly.
And while she’s out…
While she is out, don’t just think it’s enough to simply keep the kids alive. Feed them dinner, bathe them and put them to bed, the same as you and your wife would any other evening.
Then, do something SUPER crazy. Ready?
Do the dishes.
Pick up the toy area.
Put away the basket of laundry that has been sitting on the floor of your bedroom for three days.
Do what SHE would be doing if she were home. It’s no good to leave her extra work piled up high causing her to regret ever even going out. Time out should be worthwhile. She shouldn’t have to play catchup when she gets back home. You can play mom tonight. I believe in you.
And let me emphasize you putting those children to bed. At the very least, please send them off to beddy-bye. She doesn’t want to stroll in at 10:46 p.m. to find you all eating popcorn, in your underwear and watching Aladdin on the couch. That’s a no-no.
To negotiate with the terrorists – aka putting the kids to bed.
To make miracles happen – aka cook dinner.
To take over for bath time aka wrestle the children flailing about like miniature krakens in the bathtub, put soap on their bodies and make sure you clean the play-doh out of their hair.
Say you’ll do it. Without having to even be asked
Wake up with the kids
Here is another idea: wake up in the morning with those little people. And by “wake up” I don’t mean wait “five more minutes” to actually get up out of the bed from the moment you first hear them rattling in their cages. No. The moment you hear them, pop up, go and get them and take them far enough away that your wife can’t hear them.
Then close all points of entry to the bedroom, turn down the television, remind them to be as quiet as mice and tell everyone that mommy is to be left alone.
The kids may not be sure what to think at first. After all, it’s usually mom that feeds them pancakes and mans the remote to find Mickey Mouse. But they’ll come around. I promise.
Why right away? What’s with all the hurry?? Because by the time YOU hear them, your kids have long since been making noise and your wife has already been listening to them for 17 1/2 minutes. And speaking from experience, the moment I hear my children start rustling around or asking for milk and cartoons, my brain, despite my best efforts, tries to turn itself on and I get to a point of no return. At which point, I may as well just get up with them.
So wake up with them. And do it quickly.
Tell her she’s beautiful…
She may not be sure what you mean at first. She may be skeptical. She may even be grumpy or seem unreceptive or appreciative at first.
But after those miniature love demons are in bed, and the house is still and you’ve both collapsed into the bed, brush the hair from her face and tell her “thank you.” And tell her that she’s beautiful.
If she’s like me, she’ll be sure that you’ve probably done a bunch of drugs before getting into bed, if only for the fact that she’s probably missed a shower for the day and she’s wearing the same pants as yesterday. And she might not get it at first, but we both know that you do.
So say it.
Also, tell her…
That you see HER. That you see what she does for your family. And that you’re sure there are a thousand little things in-between what you actually do see that you don’t get to see her do (scrubbing behind the toilet, emptying the lint trap in the dryer, cleaning the bottom drawer in the stove) and that you’re glad that you have her. That you’re all glad that you have her and that you couldn’t manage without her.
Why? Let’s be real here for a second. If your wife spends any lengthy amount of time with your children, if she gives up her ability to go to the bathroom alone or to be able to walk to mailbox by herself – if she sacrifices that, willingly, she will from time to time go a bit crazy. There is no question about that.
And the best person to bring her back to life (and possibly Earth), the person she wants support, confirmation and encouragement from the most in the world is you. You can give her stability and peace when she has days that might not give her any.
You can affirm her and build into her with the words you choose to flush into her wounds and bruises on the days that don’t go right. They’re more important on those days than on the days that everything goes swimmingly.
So that’s why you serve her. That’s why you love her. That’s why you lift her up.
And all of this reminds her of why she does what she does. Every day.