Let me set a foundation here. All parenting has its ups, downs, puke sessions and forehead-slapping moments. The truth is, all children cause stress in their parents' lives (um, please don't mention this brainstorm to my parents).
In addition to these realizations, I do not believe God chooses which parents will have a child with special needs. The Husband and I are not special, and we are not more patient or kinder or more giving. Our number just came up (like at the deli: my son is a hambone, after all) and now it's up to us to make this life work.
Thankfully, I did marry my soul mate, and for the most part we're an exceptional team. So, with all these team philosophies rolling around my brain, it occurred to me I should share my wisdom with other couples who are striving to be the perfect team.
My advice is pretty deep while also being great refrigerator material, because it will change your life.
Tips for husbands
Say "I love you" in new languages. Take the internationally recognized language of housework, for example. Try these sweep-her-off-her-feet lines:
- "I think I heard the washer. I'm just going to run and put the clothes in the dryer."
- "I'll change the kids' diapers, honey. You stay here and rest."
- "Were you done with that dish? I don't want to finish loading the dishwasher without it."
Too much, too soon? Take baby steps to learning this truly masterful language of love. Pledge to use just one housework-related word in a sentence once a day.
Don't think, you'll hurt the team. A big difference between men and women is that men think they need to solve every challenge posed, while women recognize the benefit of lamenting it liberally.
Life is not an episode of Survivor, although it can feel like it and I might smell like it after a day when the kids were kept alive and fed, but I never made it near the shower.
So, when I'm questioning whether we should consider preschools that are 30 miles away but might be better for Charlie, or whether Mary Emma is going to hate me when she's a teenager and blame me for her curly hair, sometimes I just want The Husband to listen and commiserate.
Too much, too soon? Try these standard lines used by my soul mate at least weekly:
- "I really don't know how you do it."
- "I agree, that is a tough decision. We will make it together, some other time after you've gone shopping with my credit card and your caffeine levels are balanced."
- "You are amazing. Thank you for sharing that incredible story in such detail."
Tips for wives
Prioritize. It's impossible to do it all, every day. So, decide you're going to do some of it, half-baked and some of the time. This effectively lowers your standards as well as unhealthy guilt levels. It can be tricky, so enlist friends who will pledge to keep their standards low, too.
Use pot: Coffee and Crock. If you aim to keep both vessels filled all day every day, I guarantee you will feel more energized and more accomplished.
Play mind poker. Husband's addicted to pillows? Think to yourself, I see your pillow obsession and raise you a pair of shoes! Reminder: Don't say this out loud.
Tips for both
Be each other's biggest fan. Now, it's one thing to gripe about the little things to your friends. It's another to silently root against your partner or be truly competitive (thumb wrestling not withstanding).
I will admit there are times when I gleefully rub my hands together because I was right and The Husband was wrong. OK, fine, at least once a day, but I can't help it that I'm so right so often.
But when it comes to the big, important things, I know he's a great guy trying his hardest. He's a loving father who can work Baby Jail like no one's business, mingling among toddlers and marveling at their toys of the moment.
Similarly, it makes such a difference to know he's got my back as I try new things and am not always successful. I know he's rooting for me, and when he gives me feedback, it's because he loves me.
He also understands as soon as he sees one eyebrow go vertical, he needs to shut it.