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Is it possible to be both a good mom and a good wife?
Yes, it is possible. In fact, the skills and traits that make a woman good at one job – compassion, sensitivity, affection, dependability – also tend to help with the other.
The biggest problem that good wives or mothers face in their attempt to fill both roles is time management. To illustrate the problem, I’ll cite an office adage: “The first half of the job takes 90% of the time, and the second half of the job takes 90% of the time.” That 180% effort is as impractical at home as it is at work.
A woman who loves her children can easily spend most of her time catering to them, taking care of them, and otherwise allowing them to fill her life. Of course, the same attention can be given to a husband. Thus, a woman who wishes to be a good wife and mother must learn balance.
Start by talking to your husband. Even if you are the primary caregiver, he is as much the children’s father as you are their mother. So talk to him about how much time you want to spend with the children, how much time he wants to spend with the children, and how much time he wants you to spend with him.
At first, you may indeed have 180% of your time spoken for. At that point, you must compromise. You cannot afford to devote all of your energy to either of the objects of your love, because you will end up neglecting the other. With that in mind, here are three key issues to discuss with your husband:
- When should the kids go to bed? Early to bed, early to rise, may not actually make you healthy, wealthy, and wise. But it will free up time for the adults in the house to interact. Whether you hope to be intimate or just fold some clothes and talk about logistics for this weekend’s soccer game and ballet practice, you’ll make better use of your time once the kids go to bed.
- Who will do what?Forget traditional gender roles when it comes to chores. Your marriage will run more smoothly if you come up with a division of labor that works for you. Not your parents or your neighbors, but for the two of you. In my home, I generally do the dishes and the laundry, tasks I can perform while listening to baseball games on the radio. Would my wife do the jobs if I could not? Yes. Are both of us happier because between us we can actually finish most of the work and occasionally find time together in the evening? Absolutely.
- Can we get an evening to ourselves?Whether it’s a formal date night or simply a Tuesday when neither of you does any work after the kids go to bed, establish some time both of you will spend together every week.
Lastly, you need to assess your own habits. Many women tend to overcommit to the kids and undercommit to the husband. That leaning makes sense, because you have less margin of error with people too young to meet their own needs.
However, you won’t be able to give the kids everything they want. All of us must face that fact of life. Give them what you can, but don’t spend every evening working on school projects or sewing merit badges on Boy Scout sashes. Every once in awhile – and hopefully more often than that – you need to put down the work and engage your husband. Challenge him to game of Scrabble, pull out your favorite movie, or make him a nice dessert. You know what he likes better than I do. Or remember that men like shiny things, and shine yourself up to remind him of some of the fringe benefits of marriage.
You need not do these things every night. Just be sure to pay the man enough attention so he never forgets why he married you.
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