A Busy Mom's Support - Dad
- Monday, March 26, 2007
Behind every truly successful mother who stays home to tend her family, there is a good man.
I know that there are some men out there who can relate to this great opportunity God has given me in life, and some can just look on and pick up a lesson or two for whatever your particular situation may be.
I know that your wife is busy. I certainly know that my wife is busy. Some of you may have married a fireball, as is my case, which goes 120 miles an hour from sun up to sun down. Some of you may have married a quiet and gentle soul who just takes things as they come and they don't particularly want to change the world outside the four walls of your home. But no matter where your dear wife falls in that spectrum, she is most likely very busy nonetheless and at times needs your help in sorting through priorities, dealing with new or old commitments and obligations, and keeping a healthy balance in making time for family and making time for her. I am not perfect, but I can share a few nuggets from experience that may help.
One of our most used conversations is what I would call the "what are the options, what are the outcomes" discussion. Kym has far more opportunities to do things outside the home than she knows what to do with. And due to her great imagination and creativity, she has far more things to do inside the home than she knows what to do with. So many times when a door seems to be opening for a new opportunity, we'll play options and outcomes. In order to win at the game of options and outcomes, there has to be a well-defined playing field with a general consensus on what is important in life. If you don't have the big priorities set, the options and outcomes discussion can spin off into infinity. But if you both agree on the larger priorities (yes, we want to continue homeschooling our children; yes, we want meals on the table; yes, we want a clean home), then the boundaries are set for success. Kym doesn't really want me making all her commitment decisions for her and telling her what to do, but having a good sounding board that can help frame up the options and likely outcomes and can be a big help in her deciding which new commitments to make, what to drop, and what to stay committed to.
A companion conversation to "options and outcomes" is the "where are you going to invest your time" discussion. There are only so many hours in the day. Although Kym would like to fill her day with 32.7 hours worth of activities, she really only has 17 or so to work with even though I'm sure she'd claim that she can get twice as much done in an hour before the sun comes up as she can compared to a daylight hour. You don't have to call it a time management discussion, but many times taking a look at how your wife is (and you are) investing your time and then choosing on purpose can make a big difference in what she will choose to commit to and what she will let pass by. Do you know how many field trips you could take in a week if you signed up for every one offered? There is a healthy place somewhere in the balance between family, husband, church, groups, and friends. You, as the husband, can be a great encouragement and support for your wife if you can lovingly help her find an appropriate balance point in her commitments to all of these fronts in her life.
Kym and I both continue to learn and study the ways of getting along well with all sorts of people, even when they are not easy to get along with. And one of the greatest places to practice graciousness, kindness, and discretion is when you have to stop a particular commitment. You always want to be truthful with your friends and associates, but you don't always have to be blunt. One of the ways I can help Kym when she has to stop a commitment or activity is to be a sounding board and make suggestions on helping the other person feel good about the decision you're making and not to burn bridges. We find that role-playing and offering the line of thought out loud for having to stop a commitment and then viewing it from the other person's perspective is a very valuable exercise that keeps your friends as friends and won't give you a reputation as being a "flibber-de-jibbit" (look that up in your online dictionary).
And now for one last "stunning" revelation before I close. Many of these same things that work in one direction for the husband helping the wife to balance commitments and invest wisely, work in the other direction too. I believe many of you wives are rolling your eyes at some of the paragraphs above while thinking "I do that for him too!" And you're right – it works both ways which is one of the many great blessings in store for married couples who actually love and care for each other and take the time to talk through things.
So the next time life is getting really busy and it's time for a talk, think options, outcome, clocks, and flibber-de-jibbit. You'll be glad you stopped and talked before acting.
Mark Wright is the Sr. VP of Product Development for a corporation. He and his wife, Kym, are 20+ year veteran homeschool parents of eight children. Together they publish the Learn and Do unit studies; www.Learn-and-Do.com. First published in The Mother's Heart magazine, a premium online publication for mothers with hearts in their homes. Visit www.The-Mothers-Heart.com for more information.
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