As a follow-up to my blog post “Things for Mums to know about Dads” I’m hoping to share what I think I’ve learned vice versa – Mums forgive me if I have completely misrepresented you, but this is a man’s perspective.
Just listen to her
If you’ve read the “Things for Mums to know about Dads” post you will see a trend where I talk about how much we Dads like to fix things, we like to have answers. A lot of the time your wife/partner doesn’t want an answer or a fix!
Have you ever noticed how when she talks on the phone or has her friend around for a coffee and they chat – they often talk about lots of problems and issues but rarely interrupt those issues with an answer to it. SOMETIMES they give an answer but most often they just listen.
It’s almost a secret code but I’ve concluded that Mum’s just want somebody to talk to. That’s it, don’t fix their huge dilemma with an “answer” that took you 2.5 seconds to come up with – they wont herald you as a genius, but they might throw something at you.
Listen, discuss, agree, share, connect – fight the urge to throw out the first solution that comes to mind and move on to the next problem.
Not the machine she feels she has become, fulfilling all the special needs precisely and at a superhuman rate. She’s not just the mother, expert, advocate, voice, physio and everything else that she’s been told she is – She is your wife/partner. The reason you guys got together was around long before all of this and the kids came along. I know this applies to all relationships but its particularly important when you’ve got so much more responsibility.
If you lose that “reason” you just end up becoming colleagues in a very difficult job. If you can get time away from it all for an evening just you two, do it – most of us can’t, I know, so you may have to get a bit creative.
Even if you do something cheesy and rubbish or spend time together at home watching or doing something that doesn’t seem spectacular – it doesn’t need to be good, it just needs to be effort. It says, I’m not just here with you because I have to be (for the kids etc), I’m here because I want to be. (I know I’m cheesy but who doesn’t love cheese).
My wife and I have managed to watch a few series together recently in the evening and it does help taking the time to watch something in common. (I recommend Man in the high Castle on Amazon Prime, such a good series).
Give her a break
Yes, this applies both ways, but we guys tend to forget this a bit more. I know there are certain tasks with the kids that she has gotten better at than you, so you usually let her do them – makes sense.
Remember to give her a break from it though, having your routine broken for once where something you usually do is already being done and you’re sipping a cuppa instead is really valuable or maybe she needs a super early night or a lay in once in a blue moon. Read the signs, if she looks exhausted, take over one of the mundane tasks.
This could be an additional pointer (again could apply both ways) but Let go – as in, don’t be shackled to each other and your duties.
The only person my wife fully 100% trusts to look after our daughters for a long period is me, this means if she ever wants to be able to be free from the shackles of the house and the routine, I am the only possible key – sometimes its not even that she wants to break from the shackles, but she has to know that she is able to.
She has been asked to go out places and do things with friends etc – don’t make it difficult for her to go, make it as easy as possible.
I love when my wife can go and do something that makes her happy in complete freedom for a while because she will usually return not only happier, but she can’t wait to get back to the house and the kids and the routine because she missed them.
Additionally, guys – she’s a lot more likely to make it easier on you when you’re going to go out or to do stuff for a while. So many couples shackle themselves to each other and make each other’s life hard work – if she moans when I go somewhere, I’m going to moan when she goes somewhere – break that cycle, encourage each other.
Don’t run away
The trend I’ve seen in Mums and Dads in the disability world is that once Mums are over an initial grieving process which I mentioned in the other post they tend to run headlong into the battle and Dad’s are ready to fight a battle in the beginning but end up running away from reality).
Mums tend to get involved in care, hospital life, get counselling and help, meet with other mums for coffee and find solutions for problems.
Dad’s I see are throwing themselves into more work than ever or anything else that will take up their time and when they meet up with Dad’s in similar situations, they go Go-Karting or paintballing or some other 10-year olds birthday party arrangement and then often use hospice and respite care to go on holidays.
Don’t get me wrong there’s nothing dreadfully wrong in those things, its useful to escape reality for a bit but Dads we seem to be constantly escaping reality. Like in the last point, its good to help each other have a break but Dads you need to get yourself help as well as escape, (which can be important) so you can be fighting fit when it comes to going back into battle and that’s not going to happen at a racetrack.
The most loving thing you can do for your child is to love/care for their Mother