“Improve your life. Improve your marriage.”
This is totally my mantra.
It may sound a bit wonky but as women, some of us have this overarching vision for how our lives ‘should’ be—specifically in our marriages. And when the reality and the vision don’t match, mama ain’t happy.
You know the saying, “happy wife, happy life.” For most men, this saying rules their lives because, ladies, when mama isn’t happy, no one is happy—especially our husbands.
And for the husbands out there, this is not fair.
I said it.
It’s not fair that our unhappiness gets to overshadow the happiness of our husbands and families.
So, we have to improve our marriages, we as women need to take responsibility for creating our own happiness.
Here’s how that works.
Make an appointment for yourself to do something you love. For me, I am always game for a manicure/pedicure or a walk in a new museum. Sometimes, I just want to sit at my favorite coffee place and read a book.
Now you and I both know that unless you pick up the phone and make the appointment or plan the date and time for our ‘down time,’ this is never going to happen.
Before you start beating me over the head…
“How? It’s not possible”
“With what time?”
“We don’t have the money.”
Hear me out…
Our spouses do things they love. They make time for those things because they want to. Yes, sometimes it causes us mild heartburn because, how do they not see all the things there are to do? But they find the time. There are many golf wives who will testify to this.
I can personally attest to the personal time my husband finds to spend unwinding in front of his Xbox or watching a soccer game.
If it’s one thing we can learn from our husbands, it’s to take care of ourselves and do the things we love.
Yes, there’s dinner and daycare and homework and laundry, and a whole list of things you’ve probably got on your to-do list.
But, if you want a happy marriage…
You’ve got to BE happy on your own. You’ve got to put yourself on the top of that to-do list and do things that will make you smile, relax, and unwind a bit.
Now, I know everyone has a different budget level, but let’s be honest. Who gets the short end of the budget most of the time?
So, find some money for something that will give you a boost. Whether it’s a coffee, a cute outfit, a manicure/pedicure, a massage, a trip to a local exhibition, or a vacation with the girls.
In my world, after we became parents for the first time, I found myself pretty angry all of the time with my spouse. Granted, it could have been the postpartum funk but after about 12 months, I realized it was actually just a lack of self-care—yes, it took 12 months for me to figure it out. (Sure, I share the things I figure out, but I never said I was a particularly quick learner.) Here’s what happened.
Tell me if this sounds familiar…
I cared for our precious baby. I spent time with my spouse and made sure he had the things he needed for his day. I took care of the house. I made sure we stuck to our budget, but nowhere in my day did I make time for myself.
The longer I neglected myself, the more unhappy I got and the more prickly my marriage became. Until one day I realized that my anger wasn’t really anger at all. It was resentment. I resented my spouse for making time for himself, but (Hello!!!) I had made up this delusional story that I didn’t have time to take care of myself. Bologna!
You need to make time for yourself.
So, I paused my 24/7 routine, found a little cash for myself, and made an appointment. My first “me time” appointment was for a $1.50 cup of coffee by myself less than a mile from my house. I picked a time, communicated that time to my spouse, left enough milk (for the baby), and walked out of the house. It was wonderful. I watched the people. I took deep breaths, and I made a commitment to always put myself on my to-do list.
I’ve graduated to manicures/pedicures, massages, waxing, getting my hair done, and girls afternoons with friends. You name it. I make ‘me time’ a priority. I’ve noticed how much happier I am when I take time for myself —even just an hour—once a week to do something nice for myself.
I’m less prickly with my husband. I’m quicker to appreciate his contributions and say thank you for his assistance. Our marriage is better because I’m keeping up my end of the bargain by taking care of myself.
This is how it works.
The old adage ‘happy wife, happy life’ is true, and my husband understands it. He realizes that a few hours of uninterrupted time for myself once a week or at least once every two weeks, makes me happier.
When I’m happier, our home just runs more smoothly.
Look, mama friend. Whether you want to admit it or not, you’re the heart, the center, the nucleus of your home. When you’re out of whack, so is everyone and everything else.
Most spouses are more than willing to take on the kids and the house for an hour or two, a half day, or a whole weekend if it means their wife comes back happier (read: less naggy and sulky).
You are not superwoman.
I hate to break it to you, but you’re not and will never be superwoman; the supermom myth is dead. As much as you love your family, being a wife and a mom can be exhausting. If you have to add a full-time career to the mix too, then you really need a break.
At the end of the day, you’re just one person. You wear so many hats and girl you wear them well.
Once in a while, do yourself, your spouse, and your family the honor of taking off the hats and just sitting with yourself, as a woman. Take care of her. Treat her to something nice, no matter how small because she deserves to feel just as special as you make everyone else in your life feel.
And oh what a difference this one act of kindness will have on your marriage. Trust me. When you improve your life, you improve your marriage.
What do you do to take care of yourself in your marriage?