What can I do to help shoulder the burden my wife carries as a stay-at-home mother of two small children? I know it can be stressful attending to the needs of little kids all day long, and I'd like some practical ways to lighten her load. Any suggestions?
You deserve some special recognition for raising such a thoughtful question. We're pleased to be able to offer you a few suggestions.
First, when you arrive home after your long, tiring day, remember that your wife has had an equally long and tiring day. There are two things she needs most at this point: 1) adult conversation, including expressions of appreciation for what she has been doing; and 2) an adult pair of hands to pitch in, take charge of one or more children, wrangle dirty diapers or other debris, or begin any other activity that will lighten her load.
Second, don't expect to be taken care of like another child. Pick up your own clothes and toys.
Third, don't expect much sexual response if your wife is exhausted and you haven't done much to help. Remember that sex begins in the kitchen – with meaningful conversation, compliments, acts of kindness and some elbow grease applied to the tasks at hand.
Fourth, get actively involved in or even take over the process of getting your kids ready for bed. As they get older, you will hear thoughts and questions at bedtime that won't be expressed at any other time of the day. Be ready to listen and be amazed.
Fifth, maintain the habit of a regular date night – a meal (fancy or otherwise), a concert, a walk, whatever your imagination and budget can manage – in which the focus is conversation and companionship. Make it a point to keep your wife current on your day's activities and to find out about hers. Call her during the day to touch base, offer an encouraging word or simply say, "I love you." Flowers and gifts for no particular reason speak volumes.
Sixth, if your hours at work seem to be getting longer, stop and take an honest look at your attitude. Are you listening to the siren song that says your career is more fulfilling than your life at home? Is your commitment to your job turning your wife into a single parent? If so, find some practical ways to change directions – fast.
Finally, see if you can manage to take her away for a romantic weekend, or even dinner and an overnight stay at a pleasant location where her daily responsibilities are temporarily suspended. With planning and creativity, this need not be expensive. Another worthwhile activity is a marriage-enrichment weekend such as a FamilyLife conference, which can serve as a therapeutic time-out and an opportunity to renew and deepen your commitment to one another.
If you need more suggestions, don't hesitate to give our Counseling staff a call.
7 Secrets of Effective Fathers