Do you find yourself staying at work late just to avoid more work at home? Do you feel like your family doesn’t respect you and your hard work because they don’t empty the dishwasher and leave you a mess to come home to? OMG! Me too! As a veterinarian and small business owner, a working Mom of two, a wife to a SAHD and a control freak, I struggle with some common issues; compassion for myself as well as my spouse, letting go of control, and communicating with my spouse.
Recently, all these struggles came into full illumination as I attempted to do some household chores. Chores, a common theme for arguments according to many couple’s therapists. While stocking the house up with groceries, a hated task of mine that my husband, Chad, shoulders since his tenor as CEO of the Krull Household, I began to struggle. I thought, well if I am getting groceries, I better sort through the fridge to see what we need and to tidy it up a bit. Because my control freak took over, the “tidying up” culminated into me taking every single item out of the fridge, tossing most of it when I discovered expiration dates in the “years ago” category, removing every shelf and drawer and disinfecting every surface.
I literally started to throw a tantrum and took it out on the fridge and Chad. Why isn’t this getting done regularly? How come he doesn’t see the sticky juice running down the inside of the fridge? How long have these grapes, which are now raisins, been in the fruit bin? I was really pissed. I vomited my rage on Chad. He was hurt by it. I was so pissed that on my way to the store to pick up groceries, I vented in my coaching group. Vented about why can’t he see this? Why do I have to do more work? I work so hard already. I make the money, he handles the house. We had an agreement!!!
With Chad’s CEO of the Krull Household title for the past four years I had certain expectations and we had “agreements”. He would care for the house and kids and I would continue being a full time working Mom at my practice. Chad hurt himself on Father’s Day, of all days, and is now on workman’s compensation at the Krull Household. Due to his new status, I am taking on added chores and kid duties, while still continuing my full time working Mom status. In the end, there is nothing to be done, other than for me to a throw a fit over a dirty fridge. A dirty fridge. That was my breaking point. That was the breakdown of our agreement.
An agreement? Did my marriage vows include laundry and grocery service? Did we sign a contract saying he would keep everything in the order of my expectations? No. Absolutely not. He is indeed doing exactly what HE thinks being the CEO of the Krull Household entails. He in fact, is doing the most important job, he is raising our kids into wonderful little human beings. And to his credit, I didn’t see the disgusting mess in the fridge that I enter daily either.
So why am I so bent out of shape over a dirty fridge? One, I am not having much compassion for Chad and his current injury situation and instead feeling sorry for myself that I am not having the summer I planned and doing extra chores when I am tired. Secondly, I am tired. I am not putting my self-care first and I am crabby. I am rushing to get things done, tending to the children and their wants and needs and skipping filling my cup first or showing myself compassion and becoming bitter about it.
I clearly failed to communicate with my husband. I never told him my expectations of SAHD included a spotless fridge. We never set a job description of a working Mom. A clean fridge is not the issue. This is a small task that does not warrant the emotional rage it is bringing up in me. I need to recognize and communicate that my love language is a clean house and it shows me my family appreciates me and the hard I work I do.
I however, must appreciate how hard Chad works, value him as I want to be valued and show him love and compassion exactly as I want him to show the same for me. His love language is not a clean house. Ultimately, a simple conversation with him about, hey, when you have the opportunity again, can you make sure the fridge is cleaned every few months, will more than suffice. After 17 years Chad still can’t read my mind!
Being mad about a dirty fridge really stems from my control issues. In fact, I would categorize myself as a control freak and thus I want control over all aspects of my life, both in the clinic and at home. Being a control freak and needing order serves me very well in my professional career as a veterinarian and business owner. However, having control over a clean fridge is a deeper issue that I need to control my life at home even when I am away at work all day. I want to be a working Mom, but find it hard to hand over all control of my house and most of the child rearing to my more than capable husband.
Remember being a kid and having very little say in what you ate, what you wore, what you got to do when and where you wanted to do it? I do. Now as an adult that lack of control as a kid has manifested into me wanting to control everything in my world. Losing control makes me fear not having a say and losing power over my situation. Losing control makes me feel weak and I want to feel powerful. Giving up control to me means giving up power.
Well, here’s the thing, you can’t hand over power. Power and control over my emotions and actions is mine and mine alone. No one can take it from me. Two, marriage isn’t a power struggle. Allowing my husband to make decisions for the family is empowering for both of us. He has a say in the house he lives in and the family we are raising. Also, allowing him to make decisions takes away added stresses on me. Giving up control for me can also mean admitting failure when asking for help. Failure? How is asking for help from my husband failure? It isn’t. Asking for help should be a win, an accomplishment, using my resources to make my life better.
Love yourself, nurture yourself, show compassion for yourself and those in your life, release control on situations that are not in need of control, and communicate, communicate, communicate.