I recently had the pleasure of attending an inspirational talk in Madrid by Arianna Huffington, founder of The Huffington Post and author of the wonderful book ‘Thrive’.
The subject of her talk was one very close to my heart: Balance & Mindfulness.
When she asked if anyone had any questions, my hand shot up. Before I knew what was happening, a microphone was thrust into my hand and I was told to stand up and introduce myself.
I’m a huge admirer of Arianna, so my face burned and heart raced, but I believe it went something like:
Hi Arianna, I’m Kelly Pietrangeli of Project Me for Busy Mothers and I help women find a happier balance between the kids – and everything else. (Whew! All of those months of memorising my ‘cocktail line’ paid off!)
My busy mother readers and clients all say the same thing:
‘My to-do list is never ending! There are never enough hours in the day to get it all done.’
They go to bed feeling exhausted and guilty for everything they haven’t managed to get done.
Arianna, what would you say to the mother with the never-ending to-do list?
There’s always going to be your to-do list. But you also need a gratitude list. Every single day, write at least three things you’re feeling grateful for.
The more gratitude you have for all of the people and things you have in your life, the more grace you’ll extend yourself for not ‘getting it all done’. Focus on what you achieved each night before bed, not on what you didn’t manage to do.
Of course, this made my heart sing, and if you’ve been following Project Me for any length of time you’ll know that I’m always banging on about gratitude as a daily practice.
Do you find yourself hoping your partner’s already asleep when you crawl into bed? Finding it hard to muster up even a whiff of desire to make love? Worried your sex drive has dried up and disappeared forever?
This is a very common problem (one I’ve experienced for myself after the birth of each of my children), so I’ve invited Maj Wismann, a leading Danish couples therapist and sexologist, to give you some sound advice on this often sensitive subject.
Maj helps women and men to have a better sex life, as well as incorporate more love, closeness and intimacy into their relationships.
Here are Maj’s words of wisdom when it comes to identifying why you’ve lost your sex drive – and how to get it back. [more]
Feeling peeved that your hubby’s not pulling his weight on the domestic front?
Are you left to do the lion’s share while he’s got his feet up watching TV?
Constantly nagging and feeling resentful that he doesn’t just see what needs doing and pitch in without being asked?
Last week I wrote about how to get your kids to help you more. This time it’s about getting the help you need from your partner.
It’s frustrating to live under the same roof as a fully capable adult, but feel like you’ve got another person to pick up after, cajole and cater to.
Resentment builds up until it drives a serious wedge between you.
Studies show that couples fight more over who does the most cooking and cleaning than anything else – except money.
So, how to get your husband to help more around the house?[more]
Does your hubby irritate you? Is he slowly driving you mad with his array of petty but annoying behaviours?
Yep. I hear you. After 17 years of marriage I’ve got a pretty extensive list of things that drive me around the bend.
Leaves pans to ‘soak’ rather than just washing them up.
Tells me I have to turn the light off the second HE wants to go to sleep (even if I’m turning the pages silently and have dimmed the light so low I can barely read…).
Doesn’t turn the light off when I want to sleep (and rustles magazine pages in my ear while he takes his own sweet time).
Wears shoes indoors.
Dumps sweaty gym clothes on top of laundry so everything is stinky and damp.
Doesn’t decide what he wants to eat until the waiter comes, then orders the same thing as me, so now I’m changing my order because I’d wanted us to try different things and share.
to name just a few….
But since we’ve got another estimated 50 or so years together and I do love him to bits, it seems like a pretty good idea to find ways to manage it without losing my marbles. Or strangling him.
Petty grievances can build up and become a slimy residue on the surface of a marriage. (Eeeewww!)
I put a call out to other mothers to ask what their hubbies do to annoy them. Sixty women were very quick to supply a rather sizeable list…[more]
Do you have a nagging sense that your relationship is in trouble? Maybe you’re a busy mother who’s juggling home, kids. husband, friends, parents, work, social activities. On the surface you appear to have a successful family life, but that’s not quite the whole picture.
Does something feel ‘off’ in your marriage?
Are you feeling increasingly frustrated and resentful? Or emotionally disconnected from your husband?
Here are 5 Signs You’re Drifting Apart in Your Marriage:
1. It’s difficult to remember back to the time when it was just the two of you – those hazy, fun, carefree days before the kids came along. And even harder to recall what you found to talk about back then. You vaguely remember the days when you could talk forever, when hours passed without either of you noticing. But that seems like a lifetime ago now.
2. Most of your conversations now revolve around the kids, the house and the grind of daily life. On the rare occasions it’s just the two of you, you struggle with what else to discuss.
3. You’ve given up arranging ‘date nights’ because it’s too much hassle to arrange babysitters – and what would you talk about anyway?
4. Your social lives are becoming increasingly separate – he arranges nights out and weekends away with ‘the boys.’ In response you’re relying more and more on your girlfriends for fun, adult conversation and connection.
5. On the rare occasions you do spend any quality time together, it’s always you who has to plan it, and you feel resentful. After all, if he can’t be bothered to make the effort, why should you?!
If you recognize your relationship here – don’t panic! It doesn’t mean you’re headed for the divorce courts – it means you’re now aware. And awareness is the first and most important step in making any change in your life.
Do it as an act of self-care and self-love. After all, you’re the one feeling the dissatisfaction, frustration, resentment and unhappiness. Do it for you.
Give up ‘tit for tat’ thinking, ie: ‘If he’s not going to bother, why should I?’ Imagine if he’s thinking similarly? That stance is never going to create positive change in your marriage.
Ask yourself what you would need to believe about your husband and marriage in order to start feeling more positive towards him. Make sure it’s something you truly believe that feels better than your current thinking. What do you appreciate about him? Start there. When you feel better you will behave differently towards him – and he in turn will begin to respond differently to you. Feeling better is always an option – no matter how he is behaving!
Make requests of your husband and let him know your expectations. Don’t wait for him to guess what help you need in the house or with the kids – communicate! I know you think he should know this already – but he’s a man, his brain is wired differently to yours.
When making your requests of him – do not make your happiness dependent on him complying. His view of what is reasonable and yours may vary greatly – that’s what makes us all different. As adults we have a choice about how we want to behave in our lives.
There is nothing your husband has to do for you. Equally, there is nothing you have to do that you don’t want to. You may disagree and think you ‘have’ to cook dinner for your kids every evening, but you can reframe it as: I choose to cook for them because I love them and want them to be healthy and happy. This perspective is so much more empowering than feeling like a martyr.
How you choose to feel when your husband doesn’t behave the way you want him to is up to you – don’t give that power away to him.
The next time your husband p*sses you off, ask yourself what you are making his behaviour mean – about you, about him and about your marriage. For example: ‘He doesn’t respect me, he doesn’t appreciate me, he’s not a good husband, etc.’
So often, we misinterpret other people’s behaviours (ie we ‘make up stories’ in our minds) and we assign negative meaning to it. Based on the story we tell ourselves, we feel negative emotion towards the person, which drives the way we communicate and interact with them, and how they in turn respond to us. This pattern keeps us stuck in a cycle of negativity because negative thinking always creates a negative result.
What would you need to think and believe in order to get the result you want in your marriage, ie emotional connection with your husband? Are you willing to make the change? Why or why not?
Boundaries are about taking care of yourself, they are not about controlling other people’s behaviour. That is the beauty of them. Boundaries are necessary when there is a violation of your physical or emotional wellbeing, eg when someone is behaving in a way you find unacceptable. A boundary consists of a request and a consequence and can be spoken or unspoken.
They’re an act of self-care and should always be set from a place of love – for yourself and the other person. Being willing to uphold our own boundaries is how we teach other people how to treat us.
Contrary to popular belief, it’s not your husband’s job to make you happy! So many of us buy into the myth that ‘if only’ he would change and morph into someone different, ‘then’ all would be well and we could be happy. The problem with this way of thinking is that our happiness becomes dependent on our husband behaving a certain way. In this scenario, not only have we have given away all of our power, we will also attempt to control and manipulate him into behaving the way we want – because our happiness depends on it! Not the recipe for happy, healthy relationships.
When you take back the job of making you happy and taking care of your own emotional needs, you create a different energy in your relationship because you no longer ‘need’ your husband to fulfil this role. And that is the space in which ‘magic’ can happen in your relationship.
Have you noticed that the above steps are all about what you can do differently – not a word about your husband changing? Frustrating I know – especially when: ‘He’s the one who needs to change!!’ I get it. I also know that creating change in any relationship starts with you.
When you reclaim your power over the things within your control, ie your own thoughts, emotions and behaviours, you transform your relationship with yourself first. And when that happens, you find that all of your relationships also improve, including your relationship with your husband.
In the comments below, share your thoughts. Has this resonated with you? Do you feel inspired to make some changes to strengthen your relationship? (You can write ‘anonymous’ in the name field if you prefer and your email is never disclosed.)
Click here for a free copy of Julie Marah’s ‘Stay Married or Leave? A 5 Step Guide Before You Decide’
You can also get the free Project Me Life Wheel@ for finding a better balance by putting your first name and email address into the box below. Your details will never be shared with anyone else.
Does your partner text while you’re talking? Fail to notice when you’ve had your hair done? Does say he loves you, but you’d feel like he meant it if he helped out around the house more?
Or maybe a kind gesture on your part didn’t get the desired reaction from him. You’re left wondering why you even bothered at all.
Ever feel like you’re speaking completely different languages? Maybe you are!
Relationship expert Gary Chapman says there are five different languages of love. If you both speak the same language that’s great, but if not you might need the help of an interpreter!
In his #1 best selling book ‘The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts’, Gary writes about the importance of being able to express your love to your partner in a way they’ll understand.[more]
Imagine the scene: You’ve got a good friend visiting and she’s brought some mud in on her shoes. Would you yell at her for not taking her shoes off? Demand she clean it up immediately?
How about a friend drives you somewhere and takes a wrong turn. Would you make her feel like a dimwit? Cross your arms and get in a huff?
And if she spilled some food down her front in a restaurant? Would you tut and shake your head in a ‘can’t take you anywhere’ kind of way?
Of course you wouldn’t!
But what if the person in these scenarios was your husband? Hmmmm….
The point is, we treat our friends kinder than we do our own partner. (You know, the one who’s meant to be our very best friend. The one we spend the most time with?)
Nit picking, nagging, snide comments – you’d never treat your close friends this way, yet it’s easy to fall into this bad habit with your man.
I can’t stand being treated like a child. I see red when my husband makes me feel worse for a mistake I’m already feeling crap about. Yet I know I’m guilty of criticising him in a way I’d never do with a girlfriend.
Recently I started treating my husband more like a friend. And do you know what? He’s being nice back.
It’s almost like our honeymoon stage when the other could do no wrong. (But without the cystitis from too much shagging.)
Here’s how I aim to keep it up – and how you can get started.
4 ways to give your man the best friend treatment:[more]
It’s easy to let the demands of motherhood tip you in one direction, leaving other parts of your life sitting on the back burner.
You don’t realise you’re neglecting your self care – even when you become overwhelmed and short fused. You don’t see that your man needs attention, until you start drifting apart. Without enough fun, friends or personal growth – you get into a total rut. Take your eye off the ball with finances, organising or cleaning – and suddenly you’re in a deep mess.
So how can a busy mama find a better balance in life when there’s always so much that needs attention?
First you have to know, balance is not about giving the same amount of energy to all areas of your life simultaneously. It’s more about being aware of what needs your focus at any given time and recognising the symptoms of feeling out of balance before things get out of hand.
It’s all too easy to let some areas of your life fall off the radar completely while you’re too busy with everything else.
The good news is, I have the key to helping you get back into balance fast. [more]
My man and I are at gridlock. What’s it about this time?
Teeth brushing. (He’s before breakfast, I’m after.) Each of us firmly believes we’re right (even though it’s obviously me).
It’s not just the little things we argue over. Like all couples, we have our ‘button pushing’ topics – housework, money, sex, parenting….
We’re never going to see eye to eye on everything, but we can learn to fight fair.
I’ve been reading up on this business of Fighting Fair and here’s what I’ve learned:[more]
Are you on the same page as your husband when it comes to money? Or do you just avoid having that conversation until it explodes in financial disaster or relationship meltdown?
My man and I are polar opposites. He’s the saver, I’m the spender. He prefers to plan, I splash out on impulse.
Finding a middle ground is challenging (to say the least) and makes money a really hot topic for us.
The thing is, money’s about SO much more than its paper value. It’s a loaded subject. It’s about control, power, status, personal worth and dependence vs. independence.
So what’s the way forward?[more]
You’ve had a major argument with your husband. You both think you’re right. You can cut the tension with a chainsaw. All attempts at communication are blocked by defensive egos – neither of you are prepared to back down.
In our 16 years together, my husband and I have had some ridiculously drawn out arguments. We’re both strong willed and like to get our point across – loudly. I don’t like fighting in front of the kids. I don’t like fighting at all (I’m a lover, not a fighter), but at times it’s dragged on and on. I’m utterly exhausted and just want to agree to disagree.
Do I wave the white flag and surrender? Ha! Never! (And neither does he.) But over time we’ve developed a natural solution to those battles that won’t simply die out on their own.[more]
Too knackered to get naked? Too drained to get down? Can’t remember when you last jumped his bones? Cobwebs forming in your nether regions?
Scheduled Bingo will help you out of this dry patch.
(Come on ladies, figure it out. Code name Bingo for any kids peering over your shoulder.)
Ah! Now I know what you’re talking about! But scheduled bingo? Are you kidding me? How unromantic is that!
We know, we know. Hear us out.
It doesn’t sound sexy, but neither does drifting apart. You’ve got to make time to play bingo.
It’s tough when kids and responsibilities take up big chunks of your time and energy, but this is the fuel in your relationship. Finding a time when you’re both energised, relaxed and up for it is about as likely as finding a naked Ryan Gosling under your sheets.
If you and your partner are out of synch, a bingo schedule will help get you back on track.