Two years ago my husband Chris decided to start showing up in our relationship in a bigger way.
A little about me first:
I am a crazy busy person, a workaholic really. I always have a thousand things going on. If I’m not super busy at any given moment, I usually figure out a way to add another project onto my plate. As a mom that’s super easy too — there is always a closet that needs to be cleaned out, a dentist appointment that needs to be made or a soccer game attended.
I really need to figure out how to slow down but that is an article for another day! (Perhaps another life because I love being busy.) I joke about winning the lottery sometimes but even if I did I would never quit working. In truth, I have probably always used work as a way to avoid / not think about other bad stuff happening in life so I would need a ton of therapy to figure out how to slow down.
I have ups-and-downs though.
I have a lot of stress and a lot of anxiety at times. I get so addicted to my work I don’t sleep. This has manifested itself in a less than ideal immune system which leaves me susceptible to every cold my kids bring home from school, occasional panic attacks, and an overall general feeling of unease or exhaustion a lot of the time. I know this sounds bad but what’s even crazier is I love my life. (I promised I was going to be 100% real and this is me — but I am open to growing and changing so send me your insight please!).
I remember in college reading the book The Second Shift an analysis of what happens in dual career households; about how women who have careers often still do the majority of the childcare and housework at home. At the time, I was in college and thought it was interesting but could not really relate to it yet. For the first 10 years of our relationship I worked and I did 90% of everything at home. For a long time, this did not bother me or maybe only occasionally bothered me because again I like to be busy, I like taking care of the people I love — as the oldest of 5 kids, I’ve done it my whole life. I was just used to it.
BUT WHEN I started my company I could no longer physically or mentally do it all and trying to almost destroyed our relationship.
A little bit about Chris:
We always joke that Chris has the lowest blood pressure in the world. That the only stress he has in his life is me. That he’s usually only upset when I’m upset with him. This is pretty much true. He has a dream job that he loves, a comfortable life and a wife who LOVES to stay busy and seems to like to handle everything. The running joke is “Chris has it figured out.”
He also grew up in an amazing family with an amazing mom. If Chris dropped a sock, she was there to pick it up. This guy has been spoiled his whole life, and I continued that. I didn’t set any boundaries. I was a girl who grew up taking care of everyone who married a guy who had always been taken care of.
this worked for a long time. BUT THEN I realized I could no longer do it all. I was exhausted.
To be fair. Most of this was my fault. I wanted to do it all a lot of the time. I am a perfectionist and I like things done my way. It also made me feel good about myself — feel valued/worthy, I think. But I had finally gotten to a point where I was too busy. And after talking about it, crying about, arguing about it for years Chris decided to change. He decided to help me, he decided to show up more and in a big way in our relationship. And I let him. It might not sound like a lot to you but the little things in a relationship make all the difference and Chris is doing all the little things now:
- He is sharing the responsibilities of parenting: Packing lunches, doing homework, signing permission slips, pick-ups and drop-offs.
- He is sharing the housework: He does most of our grocery shopping, cooking, helps with everything else, and single-handedly raises our dog Rambo (a.k.a. Chicken).
- He is thinking about me more, trying to help me more, and just handling shit (all the stuff us parents can’t exactly explain that we do)!
This is all so important because this is my love language — acts of service.
How do you show up for your partner?
And now that he is doing all of this, I have to work on appreciating Chris more, and not expecting it. It’s so easy to get spoiled! Please send me your story and tips for how to appreciate your partner and show them that you appreciate them daily! I need your advice.