A coffee chat: Wife or Mom?

Hi friends! Every so often I so, so wish that I could pull you across my computer screen and sit and drink coffee with you and ask you questions. I so wish I could meet you all face-to-face! I know you have experiences and wisdom I need. So, I do the next best thing. I ask you to make some coffee (or tea, or hot chocolate, or even just a cup of water) and sit with me and help me ponder a question, and maybe glean some wisdom in the process.

Will you join me? I would make scones, but I am fasting sugar for Lent (and yes, it’s really hard). So instead I will invite you to have a cracker with me. And probably some cheese. And maybe an apple for good measure.

So here is my question:
I have recently been pondering my life’s priorities, and realizing that my “mom” role is far, far, far outweighing my “wife” role. In fact, the “mom” hat on my head feels fairly stuck. I do have two children – one who is just figuring out how to talk and the other who can’t even crawl. So suffice it to say I am in the thick of things where being a mom is concerned. I know that some of this is simply seasonal. However, I really am at a loss for how to do better, right where I am at, in putting my husband where he belongs. The last thing I need to do is make him a “third child” (and I believe that viewing him that way is disrespectful and wrong).

So I would love your thoughts. How do you make sure that your husband knows he is your second most-important priority? How do you wrench the “mom” hat off your head? I would love to share your battle stories and your wisdom.

So come make a cuppa and let’s chat.

Annabel

18 thoughts on “A coffee chat: Wife or Mom?

  1. Ugh, I agree it is SO hard to make sure he knows he’s important! We have a 9-month-old who is into literally everything, and we also both work full-time, with pretty opposite schedules. There are a couple things I’ve found that work for us.

    If I go to bed before he gets home from work (this happens a lot early in the week, when I have to work the next day), I’ll leave him a note somewhere obvious, just to say, “I love you, thought about you today,” etc, and also other info like what leftovers are in the fridge and if anything unusual is going on the next day. And I remind him that it’s ok to wake me up for a hug or snuggle, or just to chat for a couple minutes, when he comes to bed. I really try not to go to bed without him unless I have to; I don’t have much choice when he gets home 12:30 – 2am and I have to be up at 5, though.

    On the weekends, since I’m usually home during the day, I try to ask what he’d like to see me accomplish during the day. I’ll say something to the effect of, “If I can only get 2 things done around the house today, what in particular would you like me to do?”

    Also on the weekends, since I’m not working the next day, I’ll try to wait up for him to get home from work. (This sometimes involves napping on the couch while I wait…)

    It’s not perfect, but it works for the time.

    • Hannah,

      Those are some seriously great thoughts. I love the “around the house” question you ask too. It communicates that what he wants is important and that you are prioritizing him in what gets done in the day. LOVE it. Thanks for some great food for thought!
      A

  2. Hi ladies,

    I am in a totally different season of life Annabel. We are empty nesters so I have to find ways to be reaching out to my children, to remind them and me that I am still Mom. 🙂

    But I can relate because my dh works 65+ hours/week and that involves him going to be at 6 pm or earlier 6 days/week. I have to work at finding the time to remind myself that I am his wife. A few things I do: I usually go to bed with him and lay with him for a few minutes (often that time turns into a quickie!) On a Wed morning when he doesn’t have to work until 9.30, I get up with him and we have a bacon/egg breakfast together. We have also decided that Sunday mornings before I get picked up for church will be talk time, or at least he won’t have the headphones on and watching a movie. 🙂 So if I wanted to talk, he is OK with that and I’m not interrupting a movie and needing to ask him to remove the headphones.

    Any longer sessions in bed than the 15 mins at 6 pm, usually happen in the middle of the night on one of two night when he doesn’t have to get up at 12.10am.

    Annabel, could you do breakfast together or have some quiet time, even 15 mins, before the kids get up?

    • Lisa,

      Those are great thoughts – and I love hearing from moms who have been there! 🙂 Right now my husband’s shifts have him up and leaving at 5:30am, so mornings aren’t best for us right now. Of course, 5:00 would definitely be before the kids woke up! 🙂 Ha! I do think I need to find a way to connect once-a-day to help him to feel important – more great food for thought.
      Thanks!
      A

  3. We have 4 children. They are older than yours, Annabel. One is married and out of the house. One is a young adult still living at home and two young teens. Can you say “BUSY”? LOL My husband and I both work shift work and there are days where we do not see each other except for a few hours of overlapping sleep time. There are also days where we have the opportunity to spend most of it alone together. We really try hard to take those opportunities to just be alone together.
    We also limit the number of activities our children are involved in so we are sure to have some evenings at home as a family.
    A rule of thumb we go by, or strive for, is 10 to 15 hours a week of alone time. We don’t always make it but we do make it a priority and we schedule it into our day. If I have a “meeting” planned with my husband then I can tell others that I am not available, I have a meeting. We try for 1 hour per day and one evening per week. Our future goal is to add one 24 hour period every month and one 48 hour period every quarter of the year.
    It is a work in progress but I have come to realize that my marriage needs to be my number one priority (besides me relationship with Jesus) and that my children will benefit as a result.
    Blessings.

  4. Early bedtime for the children is your friend. Do what you have to to get them on an early bedtime schedule. Then once a week if possible feed the kids, put them to bed and have dinner with just the two of you (the crockpot is your friend here). In the evening if hubby is home work on being in the same room with him if possible. If you need to fold laundry do it in the room he is in, etc. If you are both exhausted you don’t even need to be interacting, just being present is good. It is tough but these years do pass faster than you imagine and you are very wise to be intentional about this now. It is so easy to let this slide and so many marriages don’t recover from that slide.

  5. Hi Annabel, this is a great coffee chat (nomatter what your libido level 🙂 )! All of the above are such great thoughts! I am on the other end of the spectrum, although 2 college sons live at home, they are almost fully independent. I ALWAYS had a tough time reconciling mama and wife. I didn’t do it well, either. We had a 2.5 year old when the twins were born. So, I always had a crew of three kids very close in age. In retrospect, I should have worked on my exhaustion level by being more physically active, taking naps, saying ‘no’ to stuff, not worrying about the ocd cleaning of the house. The one thing my husband says he wished I would have done all along is greeted him at the door when he came home from work. This one little act makes him feel so special.

  6. I think this gets easier with time. I have four kids, and I’m still not always good about switching off mom mode- to get in the mood for sex. I do have a couple of suggestions.
    1. Ask your husband for his input on raising the kids, and take his suggestions seriously.
    2. Plan a reasonable but early bedtime for the kids and work to get them there consistently. My husband and I know that our time together happens every night after about 8. The kids are down, the dishes are done and we usually(not always possible) spend the evening together. Yes, we sacrifice on hobbies and getting stuff done, but we have a great marriage.
    3. Plan your schedule around your husband not your kids. What time is he home from work, plan meals for HIS timing, get your kids on a routine that allows you to be free when he is home. What do you need to plan a basic priorities for the day to make that happen? Write down a mini routine(NOT an inflexible schedule) to keep you on track.
    4. Ask for grace and help from hubby. Let him know you need a few minutes to chat and get off mom mode.. or whatever. Choose to plan into a your day a process of winding towards wife thinking. This gets to be second nature. For example, in the late afternoon, the kids help me clean the house up and make dinner for daddy. We make tomorrows lunches, prep for breakfast and generally wrap up loose ends. If I want to be available for love making, I start thinking about what the evening will look like there. basically, I clean the slate, and focus my attention on my husband.
    Also, something my husband does for me is that he will often put kids to bed, while I wrap up dishes. Not always possible, especially for a nursing baby, or if husband arrives home from work needing a break. But nice. if he has the time/energy. He knows it pays back later in quality friendship or lover time. 🙂

    Eventually, I think I came to the point where separating wife time from mom time didn’t matter as much, because I became wife AND mom all the time. It gets less complicated the more we make it a priority. And we all have a STEEP learning curve those first 3-5 years of kids. Just plod on through and don’t give up refining your routine till it works like clockwork!

    • P.S. Diddo on naps! They are a requirement here and my main life line. My husband often requests that I nap if he knows he wants to spend time together later, as he knows how much it helps me be clear minded. Don’t be afraid to drop what you are doing and nap
      Also, this mom has it down!
      http://ladyofvirtue.blogspot.com/2009/11/mommys-toolbox-life-with-all-little.html
      I also remembered- I try to have fun with my husband, be light-hearted and flirt lots (yes, in front of the kids). It helps a ton!
      Sorry to be long- winded!!!

      • Rebekah! I love what you wrote! Your points 2 and 4 especially resonated with me! Thank you for writing such specific, practical advice! It does take careful planning to make sure that the evening really is time to connect and it does mean that hobbies get set aside and not as many things “get done”; however, the value of a connected marriage far surpasses those things! So glad you shared!

  7. I’ve spent quite a bit thinking about this as I am in the same boat as you (well not exactly, but my husband and I do have a 1 yr. old and a 2 ½ yr. old). The reality is that this IS a demanding stage of life, one where the “mom” hat can’t easily be set aside. I am learning how to be “mom” and still have my heart focused on and connected to my husband. The “mom” hat during this season is often so demanding full of things that can’t just be “put off” for a day or even an evening to focus on just being a wife (my little boys still need me and my husband…or a babysitter…to change their diapers, make their food, bathe them, put them to bed, wash their dishes and laundry, make their beds, and even help them clean up).

    For me, the most practical way of focusing on being a way is simply that once the boys are down for bed (they do have a fairly early bedtime), my husband and I make a point to connect with each other at least 4 out of 7 nights of the week. At a minimum we catch each other up on what happened in our days and what has gone on in our hearts while we’ve been a part. This simple focused time keeps our hearts connected and reminds us that we are friends.

    Another thing we did early on was to list out the top three things each of us needed from each other. Those top three needs change as seasons of life change and as we each change; so, we revisit these lists often to check in and make sure those are still the things we need. Having only “top three” needs helps me know what to focus on in loving my husband, giving my efforts the most impact. For him at this stage of life, his top needs that he would love for me to meet (the things that make him feel most loved) are most likely: making a point to really connect with his heart daily, giving him time out one night a week to pursue things he enjoys, and prioritizing times for us to be together without our kids (i.e. date nights and going away together). I can manage focusing on these three things without getting lost in all that my husband could want or desire. My needs are different than his: alone time, sex often, and help with our kids when he is home from work. By checking in with each other often and keeping our list to just three things, we get the most impact for the energy we put in as husband and wife. Plus, by asking each other, we don’t have to guess at what to do for one another, but actually know what the other most desires.

  8. The ideas you ladies have already commented are great! I’ll add that some quick easy ideas to show your dh that you’re thinking of him are really helpful! I recommend: The romantic’s guide by M. Web (clean, nonsexual ways to say I Love You) also 1001 ways to be romantic by Goddek (there are a few ideas to skim past but some great ideas nontheless). I made notes of the ideas on index cards so my dh can pick up the ideas and use them too. Also the Dating Divas site has some great ideas for ways to say I love you and date ideas (home date or out). Here are a few ideas off the top of my head:
    -put hershey kisses in the pockets of his clothes to find later (or love notes)
    -attach a candybar and a note to the inside bottom of your garage door so when it goes up the candy bar is hanging at eye level (a fun surprise!)
    -use those millions of stuffed animals to say I Love You (tiger- “You’re grrrreat! or fish “out of all the fish in the sea I’m so glad you chose me!”) put the animal and note in his shoes or car seat or underwear drawer 🙂
    -use your scrabble board or playdough or fridege alphabet magnets to spell out sweet phrases
    -get a book of tons of questions to ask him for some great conversation starters
    -find out what his love language is and work it 🙂

  9. @Colette : Brilliant. My husband and I have been talking recently about limiting our activities. I think learning to say “no” will be an important part of our marital health.

    @Mary : Staying in the same room with him is such a simple but powerful thought. My husband often has about 15-20 hours of “at home” work to do, and I think sometimes I just need to sit close and be with him.

    @OysterBed7 : I can’t tell you how much I love hearing from moms and wives who are further along the journey than I am! Greeting my husband at the door is a powerful thought. I am often so stuck in my “mom” mode at that point he sometimes gets a yelled “hello” from the kitchen. Wonderful suggestion, thank you.

    @Rebekah : O man, so much good stuff. I think #1 & #4 spoke to me the most. I also really appreciate the encouragement that I can become both 🙂 I think there is some truth there I need to let sink in. I am both – it’s okay to be both. Thanks for the link (can’t wait to read it!) and for the encouragement to keep our marriage light-hearted. My husband & I can get really deep – and laughter is a gift we need to keep giving.

    @Evie : The top 3 spoke to me so much. I will have to give it thought for myself and pose the question to my husband. Thanks for practical advice (as always, blogging friend 🙂

    @Ann : Thanks for the practical ideas & the resources! Looking forward to checking them out & really like the idea of surprises – they take time & thought, which communicates a lot.

    LOVE having coffee with all of you ladies. I have needed your input in my life – thanks.

    A

  10. Hi Annabel,

    Although we have no children, I have been interested in the topic. Marriage go first, because is that relation that will last after children and your husband is the one that could give you the emotional support that you need. You can see Paul Washers’s purpose of marriage in youtube.com; you can see that there is a long video of more than one our or smaller parts of 10 to 12 minutes each. Additionally you can read a small book called For married women only by Anthony E. Evans.
    Hope it helps.

    Idania

  11. A, do you and your husband have a common interest? If so, plan to engage in that over as many weekends as you can. Also, my husband and i read the same book and talk about it. Sometimes it’s just a book, sometimes we pick a book in the bible to study (right now we are studying end times and revelation) You’d be SO surprised at how much attention I end up getting when my desire was to give HIM attention. Men just love it when you are interested in what they are interested in. Somehow, at least for me, it ends up becoming sexy! btw, i’m still sleeping naked too 🙂
    Best of Luck, love you more girlfriend.

  12. That’s what I’ve done wrong, not putting him first (and it went terribly wrong, for a moment).

    My youngest is 5 now, but what we’re doing now (and we could have done that years ago) is making sure we’ve got a date night every week. Most of the time that’s a Date Night In, sometimes it’s a Date Night Out. Make time for each other. Share, do fun things, etc. etc….

    Make it a priority.

  13. Great suggestions! A few ideas from me, since I’ve been working on this consciously for about a year now. Did you read “Are you a better wife or better mother?” blog entry from To Love, Honor & Vacuum? That is a smack upside the head. I read it and changed. I read it to my husband and we discussed it. I read it to my moms group that I lead and we decided to do “Wife Week” the first meeting of the month. We discuss marriage and wife issues and a marriage-related article, instead of our usual routine of discussing mommy and child issues. Just a good reminder to not forget our role #1 as wives!

    Someone already said it, but do find your husband’s love language. Gary Chapman wrote the book – you both should take the quiz and discuss how you’re similar or different. Then plan what you can do to speak his language. I leave my husband a note in his cereal bowl for each morning since he’s out of the house before we’re up. (Oh – I have a 3.5 year old, 18 month old and baby due in July, so I’m in the trenches with you!) : ) I make his lunch every day. If possible, I do try to get projects done during the day so we can have family time and “us” time in the evening. However, sometimes projects need to be set aside, I need a nap, and then we do the “us” time. You have to gauge how best to accomplish the “us” time and how you can speak his language.

    I second the point about being in the same room. You don’t always have to be doing the same things but just being together is nice.

    Praying for your spouse, and praying for your marriage are definitely ways to help. Pray together with your spouse.

    My philosophy is that if you aren’t actively working on your marriage, then you are actively growng apart. That old saying “The best defense is a good offense.” I think divorce is very likely for most people unless they are constantly working on connecting and improving communication, etc. So just keeping that in the back fo your mind – not as a fear thing, but as a reality thing – will help you prioritize your marriage first. Again – do read the article from Sheila on “To Love, Honor & Vacuum” that I mentioned initially, because it ties in with your motherhood. What do you want for your children? My two deepest desires for them are faith in God and a good marriage (if their vocation is indeed marriage). So how do they get those two things? From me and my husband setting a good example in both. Again – that ties in your love of your children and your role as mother directly into your marriage and love for your husband. In a way, maybe it gives you “permission” to focus on husband and marriage first.

    Hope this helps! What a great discussion and one that needs to be spoken about more often!

  14. I have no problem throwing off the mom hat. I dress up for hubby, engage in conversation beyond kid stuff, I wear lingerie and try to keep kid stuff minimal in our areas of the home, but hubby has a hard time seeing me as anything but the mom of the house. He even calls me mom! So the hang up isn’t on my end, but his. I tell him from time to time that I need to feel like and be a wife again….his lover, his friend, his closest one. Instead, it seems I am part of the package deal of home and his responsibilities. I am praying for answers as to how to turn this around. I think we both feel taken from and used rather than given to and loved.

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