Maybe you haven’t thought about this before, husbands. So, I’m here to help you.
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 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 Legos and a dog who puked on the carpet, and you ask, “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) 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 – then you’ll be in danger. Just you wait, mister. Just you wait until she gets up from wherever 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 as graceful an effort in multitasking as any.
Sometimes, I feel 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 may also be exhausted, husbands. I get it. The workforce is not all rainbows and baby unicorns playing badminton. I have been there. I understand.
It’s just that I can strictly speak from the point of view of the wife. And I know I’m not the only woman out there who is so very, very tired.
Husbands, I know that sometimes, we wives devolve into something that…doesn’t even resemble your wife. We’re part machine, part animal. We waver between pure survival mode and an automatic existence.
We can be…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 helping looked like in that particular moment.
The truth is, learning how to encourage and help one another is an art form that takes practice. 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 from being served by my loving husband these past nine years.
So, here are a few tips for surviving your tired wife.
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 on a walk. Take them to another country. Take them to play upstairs. Just take them away from her.
Literally, sometimes all it takes is a thirty minute chunk of time without the sound of small, squeaky voices or someone hanging off of her leg for her to find her sanity 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 leaves the house without the children in tow. And there is just something utterly divine about going out without having small people attached to you that makes a difference. And don’t even get me started on the chance to enjoy a hot meal without interruption. A meal we didn’t have to cook, no less.
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.
She’s a peacock, you gotta let her fly.
And while she’s out…
…don’t think it’s enough to simply keep the kids alive. Feed them dinner, bathe them and put them to bed. KEEP THE SAME ROUTINE YOU AND YOUR WIFE WOULD HAVE 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 was 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, watching Aladdin on the couch. That’s a no-no.
To negotiate with terrorists – aka putting the kids to bed.
To make miracles happen – aka cook dinner.
To take over bath time aka wrestle the child flailing about like an octopus in the bathtub. 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 out of bed when you first hear them rattling in their cages. The moment you hear them, stand up and go. Take them far enough away that your wife can’t hear them.
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 seventeen minutes. Speaking from experience, the moment I hear my children start rustling around, my brain, despite my best efforts, tries to turn itself on. At that 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 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 wearing the same pants as yesterday. She might not get it at first, but we both know that you do.
So say it.
Also, tell her…
That you see HER and you see what she does for your family. And that you’re sure there are a thousand little things you actually don’t see her do (like scrubbing behind the toilet and emptying the lint trap in the dryer), and that you’re glad you have 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 all of that, willingly, she will from time to time go a bit crazy.
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 may 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.