How the “I” in Marriage is Suffocating Happiness (& hurting our families)

We live in a world of Me, Myself and I.  Millennials – myself included – have been taught that our personal happiness, comfort & success are of the utmost importance.  We’ve been taught to say no when something is inconvenient or uncomfortable, to value ourselves over others, and to steam roll over people who stands in our way of, well, anything we want. This mentality is ruining our families.  We all know that divorce rates are higher than ever, but even in families where parents stay together, many of us are set up for a lifetime of unhappiness.

Don’t misunderstand me, I absolutely value my own happiness – it’s important. But, one thing I know for certain is that most of us have a very shortsighted vision of what happiness looks like, and how to achieve it.

My grandfather used to say that the most valuable gift a father can give to his children is to love their mother.  He was right, but this proverb applies to a mother loving her children’s father, too. Children need to feel secure in their homes and bear witness to love, because without love, we are nothing. Love is happiness.

Straight forward, right? Except it’s not.  Not for a generation of people always looking for the easy way out. Not for a generation of people looking to empower ourselves at the expense of… anything.

Not enough PTO? Find a new job.  Haven’t gotten that promotion yet? Don’t work harder, just quit.  He left his cloths on the floor again, after you repeatedly nagged him about his terrible domestic habits that make your life impossible … Leave him – obviously.

It’s human nature to be selfish & lookout for ourselves (I have a two year old, I know) – we don’t need an entire genre of self-help books to encourage our bad behavior. Because then what? We end up alone, sad & resentful that nobody in the entire world can live up to our standards. Ironic, that when we think the world revolves around us, we alienate ourselves, becoming more like black holes than beacons of light.

Scripture offers insight (currently unpopular amongst many; but hear me out). Women are to submit to their husbands. Before you stop reading, realize that this concept can actually be very empowering to women.  Just as women are directed to submit to their husbands, men are ordered to cherish their wives. It takes one party to swallow their pride first. Maybe you pick up his dirty laundry without tweeting that your husband is a giant slob. Maybe you happily serve dinner without the narrative surrounding your impossibly busy day with the kids. Maybe he does the dishes tonight, and tells you to relax, that he knows you had a long day, too. If your house is anything like mine, these “sweet nothings” don’t come easily, but once they get going, the entire mood shifts. You see, submitting, or respecting, and cherishing one another go hand-in-hand. The effects are cyclical. But it requires that you think first about somebody else’s feelings.

I’ll be honest, sometimes I use this technique selfishly.  I want something, so I use a little strategy called “sucking up”. My husband doesn’t care, because it means I’m not being a pain in his butt.  In a surprising twist, I’m complimentary, kind & not nagging.  Guess what happens then? He listens to me, he holds my hand, he makes me happy. How terribly self-indulgent of me! 😉

Now, how wonderful for us, right? But think about our kids. A healthy parental relationship is the foundation of a happy family. They get to understand what it looks like to love & be loved. Not just what they deserve out of a relationship, but how to make someone else’s life better. They will feel protected by the strength of their family, rather than threatened by it’s volatility. 

My goal as a mother is to provide unwavering love & support to my children, a job that I’m much better at with a partner. Therefore, I must focus on him, first.

xxx,

MamaFulch

Colossians 3:18-21: “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them. Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord. Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.”

Hi, I’m new here…

…New to this town. A new mother of two. Newly unemployed (as in, today). And completely new to writing down my thoughts. To clarify, I’ve been a textbook over-sharer for years. I like to hear myself talk, but I’ve never put my thoughts on paper. (That may have been better.)

Amidst all the new in my life, what’s not new, is my desire to add value to something; to feel respected & be successful.  But, as I sit here in my yoga pants, smelling of spit up, without makeup, and without an income, I feel anything but respectable.

I want to raise great kids. I want a thriving relationship with the man that I love. (Maybe I should try a shower & jeans again some day.) I want a fulfilling career that doesn’t keep me away from my family.  I want a magazine worthy house with five star meals on the dinner table each night. I want to pursue my personal passion for fitness & still have time to read a book. Is a vacation too much to ask for?

It’s taking time for me to accept that I can have it all, just not at the same time.

So, here I am, feverishly doggy paddling through the deep end of the pool – shouldering the burden of shaping little hearts and minds, all while juggling the laundry, diapers, feedings, playdates, potty accidents, laundry, dinner prep, dishes, bills, the family calendar, repair men,  laundry…. shall I continue?

Unfortunately, I seem to have misplaced my syllabus for this crash course in life skills – I’ve gotten pretty good at juggling an infant carrier, screaming toddler, the diaper bag and my coffee while heading out of the door, but I still can’t seem to get us through that door (bathed, dressed and fed) before noon.  How much screen time is too much, you say? I used to travel the world – now I pack a suitcase to go to the grocery store. Are they eating enough vegetables? (They’re not.) I can’t remember my last date night. Workout? Is it better for my girls to have a “strong” working mother, or a nurturing one that stays home? I was building a career. I took care of myself – of my husband and our relationship.  We got out of the house – had fun together & traveled. I was learning to cook and fluff throw pillows. And then… we had a baby.

Fast forward three years and two little girls… Am I Martha Stewart, or Marissa Mayer?  I’d like to be both, but I’m far from either. As a professional perfectionist, I’m struggling with that reality. I’m learning – slowly- that there is beauty in the chaos. So, join me as I (occasionally) journal my way to balance.  Let’s laugh together, commiserate together, and become better at this, together.

xxx,

MamaFulch

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