Last Tuesday I was checking my work mailbox and approached three of our business professors. The oldest had a snarky look about him as he watched the youngest of the three, who is just a little older than me. The youngest looked at me, raised his hands over his and said–quite distressed–”Brangelina is OVER!”
As I walked away laughing, I reflected on the lovely little spat my husband and I had that morning. FYI–it wasn’t lovely. It was quite stupid, actually, and left us both feeling frustrated and angry at the other. By this point in the morning, we had already talked and gotten over it, so I had some clearer vision as I reviewed what had happened.
You may not know this if you’re not married or if you have a unicorn marriage, but having kids makes you a bit more snippy with your significant other. What bring so much joy into our lives also has the tendency to bring out some major grumpiness. Being in school or working also adds to that. I’m the type of person that likes to know what to expect so I can be ready for it, regardless of its inevitability. So in the spirit of preparation, here are 4 reasons that being a working or schooling mama takes a toll on your relationships.
Underslept. I’ve never seen “The Walking Dead,” (I get way vivid nightmares) but I’m confident it would make a better title for a documentary about parents. We readily think of tired and cranky moms and dads, but should also remember that those equate to tired and cranky husbands and wives.
School and work are innately focused on the self. You can be working to provide for your family, but for the most part, school and work is an “I” mentality. I have to do my homework, I have to turn in a report on time, I need to not fail a test. When I think about all that I have to do all the time, it does two things. First, it doesn’t leave much room to think about others. Second, when things aren’t going as planned, it easily equates to “Why are YOU making this so hard for ME?”
Change in running the household. If you’re new to school or the workforce, it totally changes the mechanics at home. You have to re-establish who cleans what, who pays bills, who picks up kids, who makes dinner, how the baby gets put to bed, etc. If there is no communication, then nothing gets done and you’re mad at each other.
Too busy for couple time. In my opinion, this is the hardest for us. We have been on exactly two dates since our daughter was born. Two. In 15 months. That’s crazy right? You may think because we spend all of our time together that it wouldn’t matter, but you would be wrong. There’s a big difference between being together as a family and being together as a couple. We’re both in school so we’re poor and we don’t have family around to bum free babysitting, so it feels extra hard to get out together. Though it’s challenging, it is so important to make time to be together–and more than just time to have sex. Remember why you’re together in the first place.
Cool, but what do we do when this is happening and we feel ready to throw in the towel? I’m no marriage expert and we go through this all the time ourselves, but there are a few things that are helping. Honestly, I think recognizing them is huge. A little self-realization goes a long way to swallowing my pride and being a grown up. This is what I’ve concluded and try to remember:
- I am not the best human when I’m this tired. And yes, I am always this tired. Maybe understand that my husband feels the same way?
- School and work are important, but it naturally makes us focus on ourselves and our needs.
- The problems come if we don’t talk about things and build resentment instead.
- I make time for a lot of unimportant things, so why wouldn’t I make time for what matters the most to me?
There are a lot of things that can be done to strengthen relationships and you’ll have to examine yours to see what will work for yours. Get professional help if you need to. There are so many fun and stressful things about being a wife, mom, student and employee. Embrace it all, even the hard times. Even when we drive each other crazy, once we talk about things I feel like we’re stronger than before because we’re putting in the effort. Recognizing what your relationship stressors are doesn’t mean you are failing, it shows that you value the relationship and want to improve.