I admit that when my husband and I first were married, I was not the greatest wife.
You see, our entry into marriage was a bit of whirlwind. Sure, we had dated for four years, all the way through our senior year of high school and college, but when I found out I was pregnant shortly after my 21st birthday, we decided to take our relationship to the next level…
All the way down the aisle.
In the course of four months, I moved, graduated college, took my nursing boards, became a married woman, was hospitalized three times with life-threatening infections, oh–and had a baby.
Our start into married life wasn’t exactly the naked, ice-cream-eating-in-bed newlywed bliss I had once imagined. Although, I did eat a lot of ice cream…and sometimes I slept naked just because none of my pajamas fit me.
With my life suddenly pole-vaulted into adulthood, through a haze of postpartum depression, exhaustion from working nights, and the stress of adjusting to motherhood, my marriage was off to a rocky start.
It started slowly, at first.
Tear-filled phone calls to my mother to come help me with the baby.
Days spent alone with my daughter, watching my husband jet around busy and fulfilled.
But then, the simmer threatened to boil, as I felt my resentment and frustration grow.
Picking fights. Going to bed at different times. A constant, exhausting loneliness, even sitting together at the dinner table with my husband.
With every dirty sock I picked up, every diaper I changed, every overnight shift I worked, I silently held my unhappiness against my husband:
He doesn’t get it. He doesn’t understand how hard it is to work and be home with the kids. Must be nice to have someone do all the shopping and cleaning and not have to worry how the bills get paid.
I counted score and added slights, intent on focusing on all the ways I was being wronged. I was bearing the brunt of all of the childrearing, work, and household responsibilities, and I felt my patience wearing thin.
And then, I stumbled upon a very unlikely piece of advice that threatened to change the way I thought about everything when it came to my marriage.
I read the book, “Mom to Mom: Day to Day” and I kid you not when I say, I literally gasped out loud when I read what the author had to say.
Instead of all the traditional advice about marriage that said to split everything 50/50 and make sure that your husband does his part, author Danielle Bean said point-blank in the book,
Let it go.
She too, was a mother with young kids, struggling with the immense responsibility of motherhood and jealous of the times her husband got to go to the bathroom alone. I mean, for cryin’ out the loud, the woman has eight children, so I knew that she totally got what I was feeling.
But the one thing that changed her marriage was not duking it out with her husband, or making a chore chart, or escaping out of the house.
It was making the decision to take on everything.
The house, the cleaning, the shopping. All of it.
She said she made the mental decision to take on everything and in the process, freed herself up from resentment towards her husband. Instead of nagging him to take out the trash, she did it herself. Instead of wallowing in self-pity that no one else scrubbed toilets, she just did it.
I wasn’t so sure about how I felt about this advice, until I actually took it.
And it completely changed my marriage.
Now, I don’t want you to think for a second that I have any type of Neanderthal marriage, or that I open the door in heels and pearls for my husband. We both work, he changes diapers and can grocery shop with all three kids in tow. We are partners.
But when I took the advice in the book and stopped keeping score, I noticed a huge shift in the way I saw myself and my marriage.
Instead of resenting my husband for all the things he didn’t do, I was able to appreciate the things he did do.
I no longer saw myself as a helpless victim, trapped in the house with kids, slaving away cleaning all day. I finally started to realize that I had control and no one else was responsible for my on own happiness.
And instead of silently brooding, hoping he would notice that the baby needed a bath, wondering why on earth I should have to tell him that, like I didn’t have enough to do, I would just ask him to give the baby a bath--and move on.
I let go of a lot of the expectations I had about marriage.
I accepted that, in all honesty, I will be the one that cleans the toilets and puts away the laundry. I will be the one that knows what we are out of at all times. I will be the one that is home more often with the kids.
And I can either continue to brew and resent those things.
Or I can let them go.
And learn to love my husband again.