I often share a story about a conversation my husband and I had after we brought our oldest daughter home from the hospital. Now keep in mind, we had only been married for a year, so we were still figuring out how to share household responsibilities. Like most things in my life, I researched the most common arguments for newlyweds to do my best to avoid those fights and this topic was on the top of the list. In that conversation, he told me if I ever needed help with our daughter, to let him know. I honestly thought he was kidding, because why wouldn’t he know if our daughter needed something? He wasn’t kidding. Once I realized he needed me to tell him, did I? No. I was still assuming he would eventually figure it out. Did he? At times, yes. When I was in the kitchen breathing heavily or reciting my list out loud so he would jump in and help me. Yes, yes, then he caught on.
For years, I assumed this was all his fault for not reading my mind and knowing what I needed in that moment, but now I understand that he isn’t a mind reader. Seems obvious, right? Well, I will bet many of you reading this can relate to either my side of this scenario or my husband’s. Why do we make things so challenging? Why couldn’t I ask for his help? First, I am horrible at asking for help! I do not need help, because I can balance everything, all day long. It’s not that I need him to help me, but he should want to help me. Any of these thoughts sound familiar?
To put an end to the resentment building up, I came up with a solution. I will use our daughter’s bedtime routine as an example. Each night there were a series of tasks that took place to put our daughters to bed (I am sure this is familiar to some of my readers). I would approach him with two tasks and ask him which one he would like to do. This way I wasn’t directly asking for help, but I also wasn’t doing it all myself. I applied this to most tasks around the house, and now, this is also how we split after school activities. You see – he has never had a problem helping me; I had a problem communicating my need for help.
Do I apply this perfectly all the time? Absolutely not. You can still overhear me in the kitchen loudly breathing or reciting my list, BUT I now I recognize that it’s my fault for not just being a big girl and asking for help. Sometimes we need to recognize what we could do differently in a situation, before we can make a change.