AFTER one of my recent programmes, a young mother approached me to ask a question. Apparently, she’d been feeling very stressed at home because her husband and children had been giving her a lot of headache.
Her husband liked to spend hours on his phone, and the children only seemed to know how to turn the house upside down.
Listening to her story, it became obvious that she was happier at work because things were more orderly there. But at home, she had to handle everything to ensure that her household was in order. She’d been married for 10 years and has two school-going children.
She related that in the early years of their marriage, her husband did help out a bit but not anymore. She added that he’s the type who enjoys staying at home and spending time with the family. Upon further probing, she went on to describe her ideal world; one where her husband did a lot more while the children didn’t cause so much mess.
She confided that she always ended up having to re-wash the dishes most of the time because they wouldn’t be clean enough when her children did them. She even took over the washing of their school shoes because she couldn’t stand the less-than-white results.
I then pointed out to her that there seems to be an obvious problem; while she expects perfection, her family is far behind. In short, there’s a huge gap in their expectations.
I recall a quote from actor Antonio Banderas: “Expectation is the mother of all frustrations.”
Imagine how peaceful our lives would be if we had very little expectations. Of course, that’s not realistic or healthy even, but having too many expectations is a surefire recipe for frustration — with everything and everyone.
I suspect that the woman had a perfectionist mindset and that could have been the source of all her stress.
Family life will always be different from the workplace. Children will always be children and just want to play without a care in the world.
Husbands? Well, there are many I’m sure who’d be happy to help if engaged in the right way. No doubt the woman’s husband needed to do much more but there’s a possibility that he stopped trying after enduring several complaints that his work wasn’t good enough.
I advised the woman to learn to lower her expectations to a more reasonable level while at the same time, tried to engage the family to be more involved. I encouraged her to review her approach, spend more time alone together, convey her expectations in a more empowering manner, and be prepared to accept less-than-perfect results.
I told her to stop taking over their jobs and responsibilities even if her standards weren’t met. She was advised to spend the energy on coaching them on how to do things right in a more loving manner.
Her story is a good reminder to us all that running a family isn’t simply about getting the job done. There are emotions involved, which can complicate matters. But if we can let go of some unreasonable expectations and take one day at a time, we’ll find that the home is really a happy place and where our hearts want to be.