If I told you how many visitors we get on Survive Parenthood that come here searching for, “What to say to my wife” or “Things I can say to my wife”, you’d be really surprised. The numbers are high.
I wrote an article called “Things you should never say to your wife after she’s had a baby” last year. It was more of a tongue in cheek look at leaving the hospital, but the amount of people looking for real advice has increased dramatically. So I’m going to give you some.
Relationships are part of parenthood, but the relationship between you and your significant other is often one of the first things you’ll stop focusing on after you have kids. Life can get in the way of even the most amazing happily ever afters.
As a woman, I’ll be the first to admit the female gender can be difficult to deal with at times. It boils down to one simple thing: Women look at the world in a different way than men do. And when you have kids, that perspective changes again. It can be hard for a guy to keep up.
After doing some research, sourcing out different books, websites, and opinions, here are 3 very general things that may help you talk/understand/support your wife even if you don’t have kids.
Never say ‘I’m going to do…”and then not do it
I know for a fact that it drives women insane when you say you are going to do something and then get sidetracked. And I understand being sidetracked, it’s easy for that to happen when you have kids running around or your house is in chaos. But when you say you are going to do something like a. Take out the trash, b. Paint the fence, or c. Fold the clothes, your best bet for making your wife happy is to actually go through with it. If you do, it’s a win-win. If you don’t, she’ll silently resent you. And probably bring it up during another argument. And quite possible make you feel really bad about it.
And you don’t like feeling bad, do you? No you don’t. So be sure to fold those clothes.
Give her a break
The fundamental difference between men and women after parenting is that most women will put the kids first. Their lives change so drastically they will get caught up in the daily grind of taking care of children and they will not come up for air unless you force them. Or the top of their heads blow off, whichever comes first.
You don’t have to stop going out with your friends or stop playing baseball or stop doing what makes you happy. What you have to do is pause before you go do those things, and think about your wife first. Has she been at home all day with a crying baby, has she seemed a little down lately, have you noticed that she’s not managing the house anymore (aka, it’s a disaster). If you notice anything off, anything at all, you should give her the break first. Even if you go home, give her a break, then go out and do your thing, its still far better than just going out and never bothering to check in at home at all.
Open your ears and listen
It’s easy to get into an argument over the most mundane things. Most arguments start because of something that is brewing under the surface. Maybe you were late for dinner. Maybe you left your socks all over the bedroom or didn’t put your plate in the dishwasher. It could be anything really, but the worst thing you can do is come out with guns blazing.
It’s hard to stop and listen to what someone is really saying, but to have a better relationship with your wife all you have to do is say one simple phrase:
“You talk, I’ll listen.”
And then shut your mouth for awhile. Don’t open it again until you can at least understand where she’s coming from. I’m not saying she’s going to be right every time, or you will be right every time, but it’s important to just listen and try to understand. It’s also important for her to listen to you, so be sure you get your say.
There is nothing that feels so diminishing than feeling like no one listens to you. I’ve heard of moms who will tell their story to anyone (at school, on the playground, even their kids), because they don’t feel like the people who love them most are listening.
I’m not saying these three things are relationship ‘fixers’, but they do go a long way to helping you get along. And some days, getting along is the only thing anyone can ask for.