Today’s guest post is by a fabulous friend and fellow military wife- and I hope you take it to heart. Many of you are homeschooling parents, teachers, and hard working moms. Whatever you are doing, it’s likely that you struggle to finish the never-ending to-do list. The message here is a beautiful one. Soak it in.
With love, Heather
When I married my husband, I thought I was a completely independent, modern, boss-of-my-life kind of woman. I had lived on my own, been successful in my first career, and honestly, had done really, really well without a dude or a ring.
Because of our schedules (he’s in the military and I work from home), the split of our family responsibilities became much more traditional than I thought it would ever be. It just makes sense for me to do things around the house because I’m home and he’s away for about 12 hours every day. John’s not a “dinner better be on the table when I get home” kind of person, which is a good thing because I’m really career-driven, so dinner’s not usually on the table the minute he walks in. I’m usually still working, still with a long to-do list. Sometimes dinner is a bowl of cereal. Sometimes its call out.
And that’s okay. John has told me over and over again that he wants an equal split in our responsibilities, and I agreed to it too. I wanted our marriage to be equal. But right now that equality in chores just isn’t practical.
And sometime between our first and second year of marriage, I started feeling lots, and lots, and lots of guilt.
The kind of guilt that doesn’t come from anywhere but your own head.
It turns out I am a completely independent, modern, boss-of-my-life kind of woman… with a heaping dose of inadequacy.
I felt like I was failing—failing miserably—at being a good wife. I didn’t feel like I was ever good enough. If I made dinner, I was upset that I didn’t make dessert. If I hadn’t had a chance to do the laundry because of a deadline, I didn’t think about how I had just kicked the deadline in the face… I focused on how the laundry wasn’t done.
If you would have asked me then what I thought a “good wife” was, I don’t think I could have even quantified it. I just felt that I was definitely, absolutely not it.
I don’t know what it was. Maybe he had started cleaning up after dinner. Maybe he had offered to grab me a glass of water or a brownie on a trip to the kitchen while we were watching The West Wing. Maybe he was folding my underwear in a pile of laundry I had neglected while finishing up work for the night. Whatever the gesture was, I shooed him away from it, feeling like an inadequate wife for pretty much no reason—just the nagging feeling in my heart.
Whatever I did, John got very serious. “Just stop,” he said. “You do so much for me.”
And then he said something that stopped me: “Give me the gift of serving you. I want to do this.”
I had never thought about it that way before.
I had never thought that maybe, just maybe, John didn’t see me and my needs as a burden. Maybe he really wanted to be part of an equal union of equal partners. Maybe helping me or doing things around the house—even when he was tired from work—gave him the same sense of satisfaction and service that it gave me. Maybe my need to be perfect—and my frustration at failing because I just didn’t have the time for everything—was cutting him out of part of what it means to be married.
I wish I could say that everything changed that moment. Like most things, it’s taken a while to let go of the guilt of not feeling like a good wife. And sometimes those ugly feelings rear their heads and I need to remind myself that it’s okay not to be perfect and it’s okay to let John see those imperfections, too.
When she’s not working like a crazy person, Jo writes her military spouse lifestyle blog, Jo, My Gosh!, enjoys reading and cross stitching, and watches British shows on PBS. Yes, her life is exciting. Be jealous. Say hello to her on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram. You can also read her book, Modern Military Spouse, on Kindle or paperback from Amazon.