If you have been listening to any of my fruit pursuit podcasts or reading any of my articles I think you will enjoy this particular article. You might not have to take a lot of notes, so sit back, relax and enjoy some funny stories and how these stories illustrate loving others in our lives well.
Today you get to read a lot about how I have failed at loving my husband in times past and have learned from those experiences.
Let’s get one thing straight, I love my husband and I know that he loves me very dearly. Sometimes in order for that whole lovey-dovey deal to work out, I have to get out of my own way and I wonder if you can relate sometimes. In the business of loving others well, we can become our own worst enemy. Today, I want to talk about why we sabotage the relationship we say that we want. If you want to do more practical work around this, we go over these topics and more in Supermom School and I invite you to apply and join us there.
I want to clarify why we don’t have the relationship that we say we want. I will illustrate it with something silly I used to do. First of all, you need to know that I have a very strong stance against laundry. I have hated laundry my whole life. Laundry was actually the first chore I decided to delegate as soon as I had children that could take over. Laundry and I, we aren’t friends.
If you are the mom that is swamped in laundry, I will give you a little shout-out. Way to go! Remember, this doesn’t last forever and they CAN wash it themselves, eventually. When our oldest Jonathan was 2 and James was 1 we had Jefferson. So, Jonathan and James are 15 months apart and James and Jefferson are 16 months apart. 3 kids, 2 and under all in diapers. Cloth diapers. We had the snazzy cloth diapers, with elastic bands on the edges and velcro tops. Some smaller ones had adjustable snaps, cute covers and they were natural.
Before I had my kids, I thought cloth diapers were the most precious things on the face of the planet. Then after I had my babies, I realized that I forgot the gross part of cloth diapers. Of course, when you change a baby in a disposable diaper, the object of the game is to touch that thing the least amount possible. Cloth diapers on the other hand you can’t just throw it into the washer as is. Somehow the poop must come off, at least the majority. As a parent that chose the more natural, cloth diapers, I become very comfortable standing over the toilet cleaning off nasty poop diapers with my hands. I would love to know if there is a trick to not having to hand scrub cloth diapers.
When we had little boys we had a system. We would dump what we could in the toilet and then we had a sink that didn’t have the stopper. This way you could wash things out in the sink that was a little bit chunky and it wouldn’t stop the sink up. We used the sink to save our backs. As a result of 3 boys wearing cloth diapers, the nasty ones piled up rather quickly waiting on a good hand scrubbing.
Now, don’t immediately judge me for not washing those things out immediately.
#1-they are super nasty.
#2-I just have to ask, have you ever tried to keep 3 little boys alive?
Once they are off the changing table there is no guarantee they aren’t dead. I had 3 of them. 1 baby and 2 little people that could run around like crazy. I could see the diapers piling up next to the sink and I thought “This is not what a good mother does, a good mother would not let diapers back up like this” Just go with me for a minute and picture this little old lady with white curly hair and glasses sitting in the corner listening to this story thinkin” ‘Well back when I was a young mother, we would have never let those diapers sit like that. I would have hand washed them out in my bucket in the back yard.” I think this little old judgmental lady lives in my head. I don’t know who she is, but she is really bossy sometimes. Anyway, so many feelings of shame or inadequacy would wash over me when I would see or think about the diapers. It was a mom fail on a regular basis and I couldn’t figure out to overcome it.
Now, enter Brandon(my husband). Brandon would sometimes walk by the boys’ room and catch the unmistakable whiff of the piled-up dirty diapers. So gross. If I could see him when he was walking by, I could see his face sour in disgust. It would make me feel awful that they were still there. I felt ashamed. Sometimes when Brandon saw or smelled the diapers he would roll up his sleeves and with a loud sigh and dig into the project. There are extra stars in heaven for husbands that deal with dirty diapers. I saw him settle into his station at the sink and I was mortified. I felt like I should have been able to get to those.
Sometimes, I was convinced that he was proving how much I failed at my job as a mom.
I carried this shame thing around laundry. I think it was because I didn’t like to do laundry. Later, this happened with regular laundry. We got smart and quit using cloth diapers, it was insane. We obviously weren’t sane enough to quit having kids and had a huge pile of laundry. I don’t regret having my kids. I love them, but new little people create an insane amount of laundry. No one told me new babies required everything to be washed 3x as often. Their whole wardrobe could fit in 1 load. If you are an expectant mama who has not had your baby yet, let me help you. Do not set yourself up for disappointment on laundry because when you start washing the baby’s clothes, you get to wash your clothes and sheets 3x more often.
My little kids helped do the laundry, but the folding of the laundry was not so caught up. Sometimes, there would be so much unfolded laundry that it would reach from the counter to the ceiling of the room. It wasn’t unusual to find Brandon back there in his free time sorting, folding, etc. I hadn’t dealt with these voices of shame, so I would become so convinced that the sole reason he was in the laundry room was to prove to me that I wasn’t doing my job. I would even tell him to quit and stop pointing out my inadequacies. He thought I was nuts because that’s not what he meant at all.
These sorts of feelings happened with the dishes too. As part of our agreement, every Saturday morning Brandon slept in. When he got up Brandon would clean up my mess from cooking the kids and my breakfast before making his own. From my perspective, it felt like he was pointing out how I left a big mess. The worst moments were when he sighed, grunted, or rolled his eyes. I know now that was not an attack on me, but just his way of saying ‘okay, this is the next thing needing to be done. It was a form of love for him. This is me loving my wife when I don’t feel like doing it, but I am going to anyway. It is so obvious now that I let my feelings of inadequacy get in the way of letting him help me. It is laughable now, but at the time I couldn’t see it.
How often do we get in the way and sabotage? Maybe it is our own feelings of inadequacy. Perhaps it is nit-picking details. I encourage you to consider this: are you sabotaging the things that you desire? These are things that do not allow us to love each other well and drive a wedge in between us. I am telling you, when I had little kids I desperately wanted his help. But, the honest truth is that I could not get out of my own way to let him help me and experience his love from it at the same time. Can you? Loving other people well is sometimes about allowing them to love us and then saying thank you even if we are experiencing shame around it. Get off of the shame that is in your own head and believe that those actions were meant for good.
Are there any areas in your relationship that you are sabotaging? Is it possible that you are making up reasons as to why someone either is or isn’t doing something that isn’t true? I encourage you to just consider the possibility. Just try it on.
As I mentioned in the beginning, we have all sorts of tools to help with this process and how to move past it in Supermom School. While you are signing up for that, consider this: what one next step will you take today to love that person in your life well?
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