How to Step Back and Include Dads
One of the most common high-stress-on-the-Richter-scale complaints I hear from women: “I don't have any time for myself. My husband says that the kids are my number one priority. And if there is no time for me, well that's how it is and I have to make the best of it. When I ask him for help, he lets me know loud and clear that he works hard all week and needs to detoxify on the weekend as he is the primary breadwinner. I guess I am stuck.” The major part of this problem is not being expressed and is festering behind the scenes.
Resentment is building up to a crescendo and a whole lot of nagging is going on. Suppressed anger creates fatigue, depression, physical aches and pains and needless to say, passion for the husband flies out the window. When a person feels stuck, that is tantamount to a declaration of helplessness - playing the victim. When a person is so busy that she has no time for herself that indicates a lack of empowerment and self-esteem. Ladies, take back your power. But remember, when you take back your power, ironically, you give up control of the children!
Here are some tips to motivate dad to become a helpmate:
- Schedule your time away from the household frenzy, your down time, on a visible and huge calendar for all to see, preferably on or near the refrigerator door. Mark your time and space. Do not ask for permission. Simply say, “Here are the children.”
- Break the habit of nagging. Every man hates it and will balk at the reigns. Start to see your life as a sit-com. Defuse volatile situations and reinterpret them with humor. If a friend were watching your life on reality TV, your friend would be laughing.
- If your husband insists that you stay home, simply say, No, and don't back down. When you say no, you say yes to yourself! No establishes a positive boundary. Live your true life and don't keep suppressing how you feel as it will make you feel sick and tired. Don't always act the way you think you should, but rather, how you feel you should.
- Make sure that you agree in your heart of hearts, deep within yourself, no matter how distasteful, or how you cringe, that dad will do things with the kids his way! Don't leave copious and daunting instructions. Let him be free to be.
- When you return from your tryst with yourself, compliment and give him more compliments. Men are starved for approval. So, give him plenty of it. Tell him how wonderful the kids look and what an amazing job he did: How the children will always treasure this time with him.
- Lower your expectations. Don't expect it's a wonderful life immediately. Practice makes better. Keep affirming your husband and children verbally and mentally. If you don't, you will create the self-fulfilling prophecy that you dread.
- Finally, because you had a chance to relax, meet with friends, go to the gym, feel like a person, etc. show your husband how it benefits him to have a happy, de-stressed, romantic spouse. Love gives you a better victory than war.
Get motivated to change your home environment. The most important fact: Don't expect to change dad. Anyone who ever got married and expected to change a spouse, what a laugh! However, if you assume responsibility and change your own dynamics, everything else will change around you. Change the past story of your life to create the present story. Become the heroine who lives happily ever after.
Debbie Mandel, MA is the author of Turn On Your Inner Light: Fitness for Body, Mind and Soul, a stress-reduction specialist, motivational speaker, a personal trainer and mind/body lecturer at Brooklyn College. She is the host of the weekly Turn On Your Inner Light Show on WLIE 540 AM in Long Island and has been featured on radio/ TV and print media. To learn more visit: www.turnonyourinnerlight.com