Dear Dr. Yael,
I feel very overwhelmed in my marriage. I want to have a loving relationship with my husband, but I feel like I am on this endless wheel of cooking, cleaning, and caring for others. My husband does not spend time with me and often makes comments about how much money I spend. Dr. Respler, I am pretty careful when it comes to money, but everything is so much more expensive today – even groceries. I know my husband works hard, so I try to be available and loving when he gets home, but we have young children who need tending to as well and I just feel very overwhelmed and torn. My frustration is exacerbated by feeling like I need a vacation, even a short one. Dr. Respler, I am not sure how to cut myself into more pieces. Can you help me?
Young children demand so much of our attention and energy, so it is understandable that you are feeling overwhelmed.
Here are a few questions I want you to ask yourself:
- Do you do anything for yourself, like exercise, go out with a friend, go to a shiur, etc? Many mothers are so busy devoting themselves to their family, they forget to take care of themselves. It is not healthy to use up all your reserves without replenishment, thus it is imperative that you carve out at least 30 minutes to an hour each week doing something you enjoy.
- Are you and your husband taking time to “date” each other? Dating is important for marriage; as you mentioned it’s easy to lose that line of communication with your spouse and become overwhelmed. A “shidduch” might be made in heaven but a marriage is made here on earth. Just like flowers need water for growth, marriage needs effort, consideration and communication to develop. No one ever said that being married is an easy task, but, if you are committed to having a positive relationship with your husband (which you appear to be), your marriage will grow to be strong and loving.
- Are you expressing your feelings to your husband in a calm and loving manner?
Many people come to my office complaining that “My husband doesn’t spend any time with me!” or “My wife just wants me to work so she can go shopping.” These types of comments can destroy a relationship. Perhaps your husband is working extremely hard just to keep up with the bills and is not sharing this with you. Some husbands don’t relate the financial situation to their wives because they don’t want to burden them. This can backfire as it causes them a great deal of frustration that can be taken out on the wife. Likewise, if you need more communication with your husband – and most women do – instead of becoming upset, discuss this with your husband tenderly and when he is in a good mood.
Perhaps it is time to try and schedule a date and try to engage with your husband in a positive manner so that he will enjoy sharing more communication with you. If you can explain how you feel in a non-blaming and non-threatening manner, you will feel better and he may be more receptive. Most issues can be discussed and resolved in a positive manner, you just need a great deal of patience and a calm demeanor.
You mentioned that you are in dire need of a vacation. Is this a realistic want at this time? If yes, this would be a great way for you to revive your relationship. Traveling for couples, even for short trips away from their children, is an excellent way to bolster ones marriage. Head out to a mountain area, book a night or two in a local hotel – it doesn’t have to be expensive, just away from your regular responsibilities.
I hope our suggestions help and that you are able to spend some time away. Hatzlocha!