A few nights ago, I was steaming, waiting for my husband to arrive. We had both worked during the day and he had left for the gym right after I was done. The baby was getting fussy and my attempts to entertain her were not successful. Please note that the prequel to this includes five days at home with a sick baby where my only two outings had been to Walmart. You see, this was the perfect recipe for a resentful wife, and I was very well done. The last drop of course, was a very unhappy baby where nothing seemed to keep her calm but for a few minutes at a time.
Just a few months before, I had received about fifteen weeks of maternity leave and had been through thick and thin with our newborn. I had only left the house on my own for non-errand activities less than a handful of times since her arrival, and she was now close to being seven months old. I had also decided to nurse, which made me the official comforter and sole food provider of our baby up to a couple months ago, when she started eating. I used to go to the gym before the baby, and had decided not to pick it back up because it would cut into our family time. I had sacrificed so much yet was the one alone with a fussy baby.
If I were to leave things like this, you would think that my husband is an ogre and our family is nowhere to be found. Nothing could be further from the truth. My husband would wake up in the middle of the night to keep me company while I nursed. He would indulge me with treats to bring a smile to my face and would take the baby (when he was tired from work himself) so I could nap or just take a break. Our family has cooked for all three of us, bought us so many diapers, and taken turns with a crying baby so I could have some peace. We have had a lot of support. I have not been alone.
My husband has also offered multiple times to stay with the baby so I could go out with friends. He even included a spa day with my birthday gifts because he wanted me to have a respite. Now, do you think that I have taken any of his offers? Nope. It has been very hard to let go and not try to helicopter my house and what happens in it. I am not afraid of others taking care of our baby. I, like many other women, do not want to leave my responsibility to others. My baby, my house, my responsibilities.
When he got home, I didn’t respond to his greeting. I was fuming. However, I wasn’t rude when he asked what was going on. This is only because I had understood that he leaving us to go the gym while I did the opposite, was not wrong. He works, and deserves to have a hobby, something to himself. He has been challenging himself and enjoying the workouts. He gets tired of the day-to-day too. He wasn’t leaving us during every moment of his time off. He was just taking two classes a week. Besides work, those were the majority of outings that he had apart from us. He was in his full right to do this.
Because you are probably curious of what happened next, I will tell you that I let it all out. Once again, I was not rude. I needed to vent, and my sweet husband understood it and just listened. We spoke about a few things that have been tough for us, and encouraged each other. The baby was in the background, and all my yapping probably turned something on in her brain that said “stay quiet.” Smart.
What kept me from exploding? Boundaries helped me see clearly what was truly happening. They teach you that you are responsible for your decisions and your happiness. Others affect your life, but how you react is all on you. My husband’s decision troubled me and my selfishness was moving me to blame him for inconsideration, when my brain stopped me and showed me his nicely laid fence, and my trampled one. It is okay with me that he takes time for himself. It makes me very happy. Staying at home with my family makes me happy too but I need to have my own space and let go. Now I think that I might take on the gym sooner than I expected, because it will be a breath of fresh air and help me be a better wife and mom.
Can you identify any moment when you have not respected your own boundaries and have had issues with others? I encourage you to share how you understood that you had to work on you.
To learn more about boundaries, take a look at Boundaries, by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. It has changed my life.