Look, you love your partner. Let’s start there. But damn. It’s easy to jump into mummy mode, isn’t it?
Or if you’re anything like me, you tend to float somewhere between being a field lieutenant and having a hands-off approach.
True story: one time, as my husband and I boarded a plane, I scanned my ticket at the gate and was cleared to board, but he was stopped by the gate attendant.
I assumed he was right behind me and didn’t realize that he wasn’t there UNTIL I HAD PUT AWAY MY CARRY-ON AND STARTED BUCKLING UP MY SEATBELT.
And honey, we were all the way back at row 26.
Anyway, I digress. My fellow ladymamas know what I’m talking about: you’re in the kitchen and he grabs a slice of pizza. Then you remind him not to fill up on pizza because dinner will be on the table in an hour.
Or maybe you pick up his socks and put them in the laundry basket. Verywell Mind has a list of mama-wife behavior…and…well…be prepared to feel attacked.
Signs You’re Mothering Your Partner
Waking your partner up in the morning.
You are the official reminder person in your family — whether it is to take medications, finish a chore, or be on time somewhere.
You believe one of your roles is to correct your partner’s behavior.
You buy your partner’s clothes.
You fill out medical or legal forms for your mate.
You keep track of your partner’s belongings like eyeglasses, car keys, or wallet.
You make appointments with doctors for your mate.
This is probably a good time to say that this is a no-judgment zone, so let me give you a hug real quick and then we’ll keep it moving.
Ok. We good? Good. Let’s move on, then.
How To Stop The Pattern
The aforementioned article has some great advice for how to snap out of Mummy/Wifey behavior, but two that stand out are:
Create a calendar for your family but be clear that keeping it current is everyone’s responsibility.
Don’t correct or criticize how your partner takes out the trash or completes other tasks around the house.
Hell yeah. Especially for the last bit: your partner is responsible for their day-to-day responsibilities, not you. Responsible, as in, it’s within their wheelhouse — not yours.
They’re not waiting to be asked. Not waiting for instructions. It means getting it done without prodding. Men know what to do, when to do it, and how to get it done, but some pretend like they don’t know how.
I don’t care if your partner makes a BLT with imitation bacon bits instead of real bacon (blasphemy, I know)…you sit back and watch him eat the crunchy bit of faux-food (or as I like to call it, fauxd).
Why You Should Work To Stop The Mommy Tendency
And let’s get one thing out of the way: there’s a big difference between helping your partner because they are temporarily overwhelmed and you have an otherwise healthy relationship. IYKYK and all that. But if you feel like an unpaid babysitter, take a step back.
The reason? You don’t want to start resenting your partner. According to an article on Psych Central, this happens when there is a “perceived inequity” in the relationship. The article goes on to say the end result of built-up resentment is the dreaded ‘d’ word. No, not the one you’re thinking of…the one right before divorce: disdain. That’s when resentment takes off its gloves, doesn’t hide behind pretense and cuts straight to nasty, belittling behavior.
How ‘Waiting To Be Asked’ Is A Form of Parenting Your Spouse
If your partner counters with the response that all you need to do is ask for assistance…well, that doesn’t work, either.
It still requires you to be ‘on duty’ all the time, thereby reinforcing the mothering role. Which hails back to the first bit of advice above.
Let’s focus in particular on the last three words of the phrase: ‘is everyone’s responsibility.’ If your relationship is unbalanced, then take the time for the two of you to have a difficult conversation instead of resorting to talking to your partner like a child. Clearing the air does a few things…it gets problems out in the open so you and your partner can talk about them.
To broach the subject with your partner, psychotherapist Mara Hirschfeld told Psych Central to start the conversation “from a vulnerable place. When we speak from this perspective, we’re “more likely to invite our partner to be compassionate and empathetic,” Hirschfeld said. “So, instead of saying ‘What’s wrong with you that you’re on your phone?’ or ‘You’re so annoying!’ you say ‘I feel ignored or like I don’t matter to you when you are on your phone’,” Hirschfeld added.
What’s more, psychotherapist Catherine O’Brien suggests using “I” statements with this structure: “I feel ______, because ______ when ______. What I need is ______.” O’Brien offers therapy, coaching and workshops for moms and dads.
Set Boundaries And Seek Therapy
In the same article, clinical relationship counselor Clinton Power recommends setting clear boundaries…and consequences.
According to Power, that conversation can sound something like this: “I love you and know you’re busy, but we made an agreement that you were going to make dinner on the nights I work.
“When I come home late from work and dinner isn’t finished and the kids aren’t in bed, I imagine that you don’t care about the long hours I’m working. I then feel sad and disappointed. I really want to resolve this, but if you’re not going to stick with the original agreement, I’m going to make my own plans for dinner before I come home.”
If the above doesn’t work, or if you feel yourselves having the same argument over and over, consider therapy, as a professional might be able to help the two of you dig deeper into the root of the issues than either of you could on your own.
Do you tend to mother your husband? Let us know in the comments!
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