When you're dating, you absorb information about your significant other like a sponge. You dissect his words, searching for deeper meanings. You peel back the layers of his stories, clinging to each delicious detail in hopes of uncovering even more insight into who he was, who he is and who he might become. You stare at his smile, taking mental note of all of the things that bring it to the surface of his intriguing face. You observe his mannerisms, keeping tabs on what makes him tick. You find yourself craving knowledge about him every time you're in his presence, and even when you're not. You want to know all there is to know about this new person in your life. You want to understand what makes him the man you find yourself falling in love with.
Soon, years have gone by, filling the pages of your photo albums with memories of engagement, marriage and children. The love you have for your husband has grown stronger with each milestone you've reached together, but at the same time, it's become different. His focus is now providing for his growing family, mortgage payments and car inspections. Your focus is now taking care of your children, clinging to every detail of the stories they tell and their developing mannerisms. In the chaos of the life you have created together, it might seem like you've lost that intimate connection with each other. But in order for your relationship and marriage to continue to thrive, you need to remember the importance of loving the man behind your husband.
There's really no reason to sugar coat it; raising children is hard. And if your husband works out of the house and you are a stay at home mom, it is so easy to form resentment towards him. There are some days that might get so stressful that by the time he walks through the door in the evening, you are ready to escape to your own solitude for the rest of the night. But of course, you can't, because dinner still needs to be made, the kids need bathed and bedtime routines must commence.
It might seem like, while he punches the time clock at 6 pm, your job never ends. You've both had long, stressful days in your own right and you both want time to decompress at the end of the day. But sometimes when you've been home with the kids all day, it's hard to see why he wouldn't want to just jump right into the ring and take over for you the moment he walks through the door.
Instead of debating who had the most stressful day, who deserves to sleep in on Saturdays and who should conduct bedtime routines at the end of each day, it's important to focus on trying to relate to where your spouse is coming from. If you find yourself bickering with your husband over insignificant things due to, usually unfounded, resentment, try to remember the following to help you put things back into perspective:
He's Somebody's Son
If you have a son, from the moment he was born, your heart was filled with love and dreams for the life you wish for him. You want him to grow into a strong, intelligent, thoughtful and loving man. You want him to aspire for greatness in life, and to be ambitious and goal-oriented. You want him to have hobbies he loves and to surround himself with positive people who will encourage and support him through all of his endeavors. And most importantly, you want him to find a spouse who will bring out the very best in him and continue caring for him with the magnitude of love you had for him from the very moment he was placed into your arms.
Your husband's parents wished for all of these things for their son too. They held him in their arms when he was born and wished for joy, happiness and love to fill his life as well. Before he met you, he had hobbies, ambitions and goals that they encouraged and supported. And they wished for you - a loving, compassionate and supportive spouse for their son, who would take the reins from them and continue on with their encouragement and support throughout the rest of his life. He had interests and opinions - the same ones you clung to and dissected and found intriguing in your early days of dating. Somewhere in the midst of life and marriage and parenthood, you might have forgotten this man behind your husband. Maybe in some ways, he might have forgotten parts of himself as well.
Sometimes women get so caught up in the idea that their husbands are supposed to be the Prince Charming of their own fairy tales. We believe from youth that they will devote their entire beings to us, in every way. It's important to remember that life isn't a fairy tale. Instead of focusing on this princess syndrome, focus on building a loving, devoted and equal relationship with your husband. You both deserve the same love and happiness you wish for your children - the same love and happiness your parents wished for each of you.
He Expresses Love Differently
This is just a fact. Men and women have always expressed love differently. While you might have expectations of weekly flowers and hidden love notes and breakfast in bed, your husband's idea of showing his love to you might be loading the dishwasher after dinner or taking the kids for a walk so you can watch your favorite TV show in peace. So, it should come as no surprise to you when he doesn't show your equal level of intrigue when you tell him about all of the funny little moments you had with your children during the day. But it does surprise you. And it may hurt you. You wonder how his heart could not be bursting with the pain of being away from his children all day, and how it's even possible that he wouldn't want to hear every detail that he missed.
This doesn't mean he loves his children any less than you do. It doesn't mean he doesn't care and isn't interested in their lives. He simply expresses his love differently than you do. Becoming a husband and a father is taking on a commitment bigger than any other in his life. That doesn't mean it's going to magically transform the expressiveness of his love into an exact reflection of yours. He is the same man he was before he became your husband and your children's father. While his love for you and your children will continue to grow through the years, his emotional output might not. Instead of comparing how he expresses his love and emotions to how you do, try to remember the characteristics of his that you fell in love with years before- the things that make him tick - and focus on the unique ways that he shows his love.
He Carries The Weight Of His Responsibilities Differently
When a man becomes a husband and a father, he takes on the greatest responsibility of his life. Whether he is the sole financial provider for his new family or not, he still feels the magnitude of his duties as a man to provide for them. While many women focus on the details of everyday life with their family, men will often look at the bigger picture - trying to take steps towards stabilizing their future. Often times, this can perhaps appear as though they are not as committed to your family as you are. If you find yourself arguing with your husband about the long hours he works or how it seems like he is more dedicated to his job than his family, try to take a step back and put yourself in his shoes. Men carry the weight of their responsibilities differently than women do. While women search for companionship in their fears and worries, men often times try to carry their burdens alone.
As much as you want to be the best mother to your children, your husband wants to be the best provider for his family. As often as you question yourself in your role, your husband questions himself in his. As much as your responsibilities weigh on you, your husband's weigh on him.
The next time your husband works late, try to remember the time you stayed awake while everyone else was asleep to prepare your child's costume for the school play. While it might seem like his focus isn't family oriented, it really is. His responsibilities might be different, and he might carry their weight differently, but in the end, they are all pointing towards a common goal.
Life can be a whirlwind of chaos. Perspective can get lost over time. If you remember the importance of loving the man behind your husband when things seem to get overwhelming and frustrating, you will be able to reconnect with the man you fell in love with when life was simple. You will be reminded of what's truly important. And you will be open to continuing to grow together and rediscover each other as individuals.
For more ways to simplify and cleanse your life, check out "Why You Need To Ditch Your Resolutions This Year."
Photo credit: With A Red Bird On My Shoulder , The Whimsical Photographer and The Paro Post