Maybe it’s just me, but I suspect that this question has crossed your mind, mama. I wanted to bring a guest in to write this post, because I believe in the wisdom of someone who’s already walked this path, instead of someone who’s in the thick of it (aka, yours truly). Linda Seitz is not just an excellent marriage and family life coach, she’s also my mom! I’ve been blessed with her perspective and insight on the sticky parts of motherhood, and I wanted to share her with you! Enjoy her thoughts on unfulfilled expectations, and the secret to thriving in it.
“Hey Brian, ya wanna be in our game?”, our friends hollared from the picnic tables. “Ya”, he answered with gusto and ran onto the field. Gulp.
I was devastated and completely afraid of what my life had just become. Not the normal reaction, you may say, from a woman who was pushing the stroller of her first newborn, a beautiful baby girl. It had nothing to do with my life situation, although it could have when you calculate the fact that we had only been married a year and a half and that I had just turned 23. Nope, it had nothing to do with love, marriage or that baby carriage. The event that left me feeling empty that day was all about the softball game. “What about me – why didn’t they ask me to play?”, I pondered, because Brian was a soccer player and pretty much said that he had “failed out” of baseball as a youngster. I had played softball since I was 8 years old and loved the game. I loved warming up with a game of catch, loved being next up to bat and loved my all-time favorite “second base” position. I wasn’t a studly player by any means, but I held my own, and I LOVED it. So, why didn’t my husband offer to take the baby so that I could go and play?
“This is it”, I thought – this is the moment that I stop being “Linda.” I wondered if this is how life was supposed to transpire. Did generations of women before me just give up on the stuff that brought them joy because they had become a mom? Were all husbands around the world this unaware of the push and pull and tension that encompasses women with a new baby? I mean, c’mon, the hormones were enough for me to deal with, but now this? I was young and completely unprepared for what to do when in marital conflict, how to ask for my needs to be met, or when to press in on a topic of conversation. Our pre-marital counseling was just that, BEFORE marriage. You take those courses when you’re all googly-eyed and blinded by love. When we attended, we were simply “checking the box” like most couples. We should have been prepared for a moment like this, we should have had an idea about what was to transpire with marriage and parenthood and we should have talked about such things.
Isn’t crazy how you learn about so many different veins of life within your school years, but NEVER learn about communication in relationships? Life is all about communication and somehow we have failed in teaching our children how to get your needs, wants and desires into the eyes, ears and hearts of those with whom we are in relationship. And not just make them aware of your needs, but really learning how to convey your message in a kind and respectful manner.
I do believe that all I needed to do that day at the park was to simply ask, “Hey, Brian – would you mind if I played instead and you could take the baby for a few minutes?” I know that he would have said yes, so why didn’t I even try? Was it because of a perceived risk? Would asking begin an unecessary misunderstanding followed by a fight? I didn’t even give Brian the chance. I just kept it all inside.
What I really did that day was agree with some very damaging lies that have created patterns within culture. So, let’s not miss two very important things: I agreed with the lie that motherhood was a small and joyless role and I also agreed with the lie that my needs were not valuable enough to be met. Hook, line and sinker – I bought into the lies.
Is this a common theme within your own life – within your own marriage? Brian and I have definitely worked on different ways to communicate for years. It took some trial and error, but we found our voices and our style of respectful communication. It was as simple as doing some personality research (I recommend the Enneagram) to get to know ourselves a little better, and also by practicing requests and responses calmly, (ie: “I’m wondering if now is a good time to chat about something?” “Can I have a few minutes to process before I answer?”). Beyond that, as we mentor marriages, we’ve seen much growth in relationships when the “talking” part of your life has gone from anger, fear and struggle to patience, respect and affirmations. Yes, affirm your spouse. Praise what you want to see repeated. And, oh ya, those lies you’ve agreed with? God is in the business of unraveling them for you.