22 Jul
Drop Down And Take A Break, Mom!

Every once in a while, we get a question that stops us in our tracks. Because it is so heartbreaking and so deserving of the very best advice. Today’s questions was one of those questions for me.  And I decided to seek out the wisdom from two of the wisest and kindest women I know.  Except for you, obviously.   Gretchen Rubin  and Kati.

As you probably know, Gretchen is the author of the New York Times bestseller, The Happiness Project, and she has transformed the way that people live their lives.  And her response, as you will see, is perfect.

Kati, on the other hand, is someone who one day will have a New York Times bestseller, because her life has been incredible and she’s a wonderful writer.  We first met years ago and never in my wildest dreams (starring a Thelma and Louise-era Brad Pitt) did I imagine that I’d have so much in common with a born-again military wife.  But we had motherhood and humor to bond us, so I turned to her.  (Also, I like knowing that if I ever piss her off she’s doctrinarily obligated to turn the other cheek.)

So, enjoy!  – Marinka

_____________________________________

Dear Mouthy Housewives,

Let me start by saying I am a military wife and I am proud of my husband for serving our country….BUT I am a new mommy to a beautiful baby girl born in January and I have become a stay at home mother and housewife.

I cook, I clean and take care of our child. Before becoming pregnant I was a full time student. I had gone back to college to better my life and was enjoying it.

I don’t mind being a stay at home mother or housewife but it seems to me that my dear hubby uses the fact that the military keeps him at work for crazy hours as a reason to not want to help with the baby much or gosh forbid pay his wife a compliment or a sweet word.

Is it wrong for me to want a girls night out?   Or say I need a break?   We got stationed 3 hours from my home town and I just want to go there and hang out with my female friends for a day without having to jump to my husband and daughter’s every need.   I would settle for a break at the coffee shop with a book, if a girls night out is too long.

I get irritated – why can he fight for our country and not for his marriage?   We’ve been married for a little over a year and he has become too comfy and lacks the sweetness I fell in love with.   I feel like a horrible mother and wife for wanting to get away for a weekend, a day or even a couple of hours to myself.  Don’t I deserve it?

Signed,

Exhausted

______________________________

From Gretchen:


I think you already know the answer to that question!


From Kati:


Dear Exhausted,


Ah, Army life!   An all-expense paid tour of the worst places on earth with the most horrible people on the planet.   But enough about the commissary on payday, how about the fabulous wardrobe?   Though, there’s nothing worse than the embarrassment you feel when you show up at the office and everyone else is wearing the same thing.   And frankly, I think there should be a special medal awarded to every soldier for just eating MREs. (Meal, Ready to Eat.  Just add water! And courage!)   Although even the worst MREs are probably a step up from most chow hall food.Seriously though, the position of “wife” is the absolute toughest job in the Army.   I’ve been one for 13 years and survived several deployments. Like you, I was a student and gave it up to be a stay-home wife and mom.


Now at 36, I’m going back to school (in my “spare time”) and discovering I was a lot better at academics back then! In case you didn’t know it, children cause insanity AND stupidity. I call it “fuzzy mommy brain.” The fact is, it is absolutely ESSENTIAL that you maintain your own identity and have time for yourself.   That’s true for any SAHM, but military wives especially need to make taking care of themselves a priority because we wear so many hats and often we are the ONLY one looking out for us. It’s not being selfish, it’s being healthy and it’s what’s best for your marriage and your family. There’s a reason that they tell you on an airplane “in the event of an emergency, put the mask on yourself first, THEN assist the child next to you.”   Take care of yourself or you’ll be of no use to anyone else.I was in your shoes early in my marriage and it led to a lot of fights, tears, resentment and depression. No one was happy, and it was an awful place to be. You NEED an outlet. You NEED time with your friends (and if you don’t have some good girlfriends, GET SOME. They are basic survival necessities for military wives).

You NEED to tell your husband how you feel (respectfully, calmly and rationally, only the most fabulous of divas can make martyrdom look attractive) and work out a strategy together for you to have regular guilt-free and worry-free time for yourself.   Sadly, they don’t teach our soldiers in boot camp how to read minds or to understand the female psyche, so you have to be proactive and very open with him about your needs. Our wonderful heroes often need to be taught how to be present and active in their home lives, and it’s up to us to be their instructors.

Then, you need to TAKE that time. Make it a priority.   No matter what’s going on in life, at his job, in the world, take time for you.   Some days it may just be a hot bath with a book, other days it’ll be a shopping spree or coffee date with a friend.   Whatever it is, take it and don’t feel guilty about it.   You’ll be a happier, healthier mom and feel a whole lot more loving toward your husband too.   And if it’s at all possible, go back to school – even if it’s part-time – now before that adorable baby girl saps the last of your working brain cells.

Good luck,


Kati, Guest TMH


15 Responses to “Drop Down And Take A Break, Mom!”

07.22.11#1

Comment by Emily.

I am a military wife who recently left her career to be a SAHM. When our daughter was 8 weeks old, hubby shipped off to Iraq and when she was 8.5 months, he came back! It’s been a huge transition for all of us.

The advice given above is spot on. You have to communicate your needs and the needs of your daughter to have a 1on1 relationship with her father. and you have to take the time to recharge.

I’m lucky, because for me, recharge time is as simple as doing whatever I want after our daughter goes to bed. Some of the women here all get together at 9pm after children and husband are all in bed. They play video games, watch movies, decorate cupcakes – whatever they decide to do. So, that’s another option for you if you are unable to make it work while everyone is awake. That is also dependent on whether or not your LO is sleeping through the night yet or not.

you’ve only been married a year, so it’s absolutely important that you establish communication right away. Don’t start letting things fester.

Also, I recommend reading the book ‘the 5 love languages’. You want him to do things, say things, etc. Those might not be his love languages. So, once you know what his languages are, you can see how he’s expressing his love in his own way. Also, knowing your love languages will help him know how he should try to express it when his natural ways are not communicating it enough.

Lastly, you are only 3 hours away from your old home now. Someday you may be 5000 miles away… find military wife friends. That doesn’t mean you have to give up on your other friends, but you do need some women who know what it’s like to be a military wife. Play group is awesome even if your kid isn’t playing yet. Those women know, they understand, they don’t just look at you like you’re crazy for marrying into the military. If you don’t live in base housing, just do facebook or google searches for spouses of the base, etc. You’re sure to come up with some easy way to find people around you.

good luck! (if you’re still reading!)

07.22.11#2

Comment by Bridgetteciaj.

Also, may I encourage you that it gets easier. Those early childhood years your children just plain ARE super dependent on you. As they gain some independence (my kids are 11 and 13) it does get easier to take time for yourself (though I only just went to the loo alone for the first time last year and when my women’s bible study ends at 8:30pm…the phone starts ringing with “Are you leaving now? When will you be home?”

Also, think of this time for you as also training your baby to be smart girl and know how to take care of HERself as she grows up. It’s all good!

07.22.11#3

Comment by Jen.

This is true whether you’re a military wife or a civilian wife. Hubby and I both work 40hrs/wk and hubby has always come and gone as he pleased. The only time I got by myself outside of work was when I took a vacation day and, God forbid, took the kid to daycare.

Talk to him about it, calmly. If you don’t do it now, the conversation will be much, much harder 6yrs down the road. Trust me, that’s how long I put up with it. By that time, I’d become used to him not being home (of course, he was only playing cards and not fighting a war so there was little worry involved) and he was actually an irritant when he happened to be home.

Don’t wait!

07.22.11#4

Comment by kannedo.

I am also a military wife with a very full-time job and 2 little ones. We have done the deployments, trainings, etc. We even had this very conversation last night about how he needs to help me figure out how to make things easier when he leaves town. Honestly, the hardest thing I have to do is knowing my limits and when to ask for help. You’ll get there, but it takes work.

07.22.11#5

Comment by hokgardner.

Oh sweetie – I wish I lived near you. I’d come babysit in a heartbeat. Even though I’m not a military wife, I have so been there.

And one wise friend told me her secret to nights out, and it works like a charm. I calmly say to my husband, “I have plans Wednesday night. Will you be home or should I hire a sitter?”

I’m not asking permission to go out. I’m stating it as a fact. And my husband hates to spend money on babysitters, so he makes sure to be home.

Speak up for yourself.

Plano Mom Reply:

Brilliant! Wish I had thought of putting it that way. For me, it was telling him he was responsible for the sitter. Made for a lot more resentment than it should have.

07.22.11#6

Comment by Tasha.

I wrote a post on this idea not too long ago. I have explained to my (military) husband before that these are OUR children, not mine. I will happily do the cooking and cleaning and main child care responsibilities during the day and expect little from him in the evenings, but when he is home, it does not mean it is MY job only to take care of the kids. I understand he worked hard all day, but so did I. He has to step in and help with the kids. Because they are OUR kids. That part of life is 50/50. Bottom line!

Plano Mom Reply:

He enjoyed 50 percent of the love that created them, he can enjoy 50 percent of the responsibility for loving them.

Tasha Reply:

Ha! Yes, perfectly said.

07.22.11#7

Comment by Plano Mom.

What a great post. I’m not a military wife, but I agree that this problem is common to many. Be sure and communicate your needs. But also be open to the idea of discussing what both of you need in terms of getting away from the family. What I’m getting at is you’re going to get resistance simply because you’re requiring something for yourself. He’s probably going to want his own “me” time simply because you’ve asked for yours. Don’t shut down, be open to discussing it. It might lead him to understand more fully how important this time away is. I shut down so many times, thinking the argument just wasn’t worth the time away. I was stupid.

skrink Reply:

Oh, yes. This is exactly where I am. My husband comes and goes as he pleases as well, but when I start mentioning that I need a break he starts whining about needing more of HIS “me time”. It ticks me off so much that I shut down, too, rather than explode all over his selfish self. This is not a good place to be. 🙁

07.22.11#8

Comment by Bridget.

I’m an Army wife too. You do need time to yourself, you deserve it. Just remember that it’s a two way street. When he wants to hang out with the boys, you’ll have to be ok with that too. Also, make sure the two of you are taking some time to be together-without the baby. He might feel like all he does is work and you don’t want to spend your free time with him alone.

Marriage (Military or not) is hard. It’s not as simple as just putting your foot down and doing what you want. You have to talk to him and make him understand your needs and do the same for him.

07.22.11#9

Comment by jessymiller2010.

Thank you all! This is my second attempt at marriage I agree they are not a walk in the park. A little update I took off to my families for a little over a week for my brothers wedding and my hubby is at sea he left a few days before I came home. But I was shocked to come home to a clean house and a card and flowers waiting for me. Thanking me for all I do we ended up getting a second car so I can get out of the house more. After we sat down and I explained just how depressed I was getting. On top of that I’m having to start physical therapy for my deteriorating T9-t12 L1 level of my back so i explained I’m going to really need his help. Thank you all so very much. I will use all the advice wisely.

07.23.11#10

Comment by Kelly.

Great points. I also wanted to add that you might benefit from organizing a babysitting co-op with other moms. You’re undoubtedly NOT the only military wife who could use a few hours to herself on a regular basis!

09.21.11#11

Comment by Lookin' for Friends in All the Wrong Places | The Mouthy Housewives.

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