Like most other couples, Wikus and I were head over heels in love during the early days of our relationship. Those were the days when you could live on air and simply wanted to spend every waking moment with each other and being together. Nothing else mattered. Time stood still.
Under the heady influence of dopamine (the substance released by your brain when you’re in love) we promised one another faithfully that we would remain this in love forever and ever. That we would be the exception to the rule.
Of course, it would have been fantastic to be able to tell you that we continue to live in that state of euphoria, but no can do!
Reality kicked in and we soon realised that if we wanted to keep that love going, we had to make a committed choice, EVERY single day, to love each other, regardless of what was happening in the world around us.
A deeper love quietly replaced those early tumultuous feelings of being in love and, to be honest, I still get butterflies when I look at my husband.
Look, we can butt heads with the best of them and there are times that we both need a little space. But luckily those times are few and far between and most of the time our marriage is a real partnership.
My husband is undoubtedly my haven, my safe harbour in the storm and the person I need AND love the most in the whole world. (My two little boys follow just behind him.)
I realise that we are living in a time where marriages are crumbling all around us and people often opt for the easier way out. But today I don’t want to focus on the hurt and the chaos that these close relationships can dissolve into. Today I’d rather chat to you about the idea of TEAMWORK in a marriage – because without it, you and I can simply forget about reaching our full potential as Working Moms.
A few nights ago, we were watching an episode of MasterChef where the contestants had to work together in a team to prepare a feast for a group of people. One of the participants was struggling to work together in a group and her frustration was apparent. The boys were watching the programme with us and our eldest asked why the lady was getting so angry. We explained to him that she was not really a team player and found it difficult to work together in a group. He simply nodded and continued playing with his Lego.
We had just finished saying grace before supper that evening, when he told us that he thought teamwork wasn’t up his alley either. It frustrated him when teammates didn’t want to cooperate and he then suffered as a result of their behaviour. Wikus and I did our best to explain to him why it is so important to learn to work together in a team from a young age. There are moments like these along your parenting journey that you realise this is a make or break situation.
Wikus calmly explained the advantages of teamwork. That he would have to work with people in teams to achieve goals for the rest of his life, whether he liked them or not. I was amazed by my husband’s insight and all I could add was: “Remember my love, team work makes the dream work”.
This conversation made me realise once again how incredibly important teamwork is. You and I might think that we can do things better on our own ‒ and in some cases this may well be the truth, but when we always have to do everything on our own, life can become a very lonely, stressful, boring and unfulfilling place.
It is extremely important to see your partner as an equal partner in this Working Mommy journey.
Hopefully we all have a community or a “tribe” that supports, helps and builds us up (https://rhonaerasmus.com/2022/10/17/who-do-you-need-in-your-tribe/), but no money in the world can buy the emotional support and shared experiences that you and your husband have. No one else can fill that very important role in your life, other than the person you promised to share your life with.
I’ll openly admit to you – I can’t manage to do everything I do without my husband. There is no way that I can tackle being a working mom without my “partner in crime”. And to be honest- I don’t want to do it on my own either. I want to be able to share all my highs and lows with someone who loves me regardless of my achievements or failures.
I know many women who feel that their husbands are not involved enough in the children’s lives – that the bulk of the parenting responsibility rests heavily on their shoulders. I’ve come to realise that in many of these cases they didn’t really allow their husbands to do much while their children were little. And when the fathers did want to lend a hand, they were criticised because they did not do the job as well as the mom. There is obviously a period in a child’s life when he is more dependent on his mom (unless they’ve found a way for dads to breastfeed by now… anything is possible these days). But, if we want to see our husbands as equal partners from the beginning in both our marriage and in terms of the upbringing of our children, we will HAVE to allow them to help in their own way. And if they don’t want to help – we’ll just have to show them the ropes and delegate certain responsibilities.
In her book “Lean In”, Sheryl Sandberg wrote that when women ask her how they can get their husbands to be real “co-parents”, she always tells them that they should allow them to change the baby’s nappy as they see fit – as long as they do it themselves. When you force your husband to do things your way, you will soon be doing everything by YOURSELF. If you want a real parenting partnership, you need to treat your husband as your equal – an equal who is able to raise the children just as well as you do.
If you are married and don’t have children yet, now is the perfect time to engage in various conversations with your husband. If you’re in a relationship, or possibly engaged – even better. These are make or break conversations that you simply MUST have.
Discuss your dreams and aspirations. Discuss your expectations of one another, including your careers, future children, chores at home and traditional roles. It’s also important to identify one another’s temperaments AND love languages.
You must be able to reach an agreement which both of you feel comfortable with. It has to be a win-win situation and one party shouldn’t feel as though they’re giving up something in order for the other party to “win”.
Remember that a partnership, and particularly a marriage, must always be focused on how all the parties involved can benefit!
If you’ve been married for years, already have children and have never had these discussions with your husband – NOW is the time to start! It is never too late to implement important new routines and ways of thinking and doing things. But it is easier if these things are in place right from the very beginning. So, don’t wait too long to get started.
It’s one thing to expect your husband to be a team player who supports and helps you, but it’s something completely different to BE this type of teammate yourself.
A few years ago, the book and then the film called “Fireproof” were released. The story is about a woman that decides to give her all for 40 days to try and save her marriage. For 40 days, she LIVES what she wants from her husband. She therefore becomes what she would like to see in her marriage and at the end their relationship pulls through. This concept has stayed with me ever since and I quickly realised that if I expected my husband to be a supportive partner, I would first have become that partner.
What does a supportive partner look like?
- You allow the other person to make decisions for themselves.
- You encourage your partner to strive towards his dreams and support him in pursuing those dreams.
- You make him feel important and respected.
- There is intimacy in your relationship. You listen and pay attention without judging him.
- You consider your husband’s feelings and know that both his needs and your needs are equally important.
- You share your dreams with him and you are always open and honest with each other.
- You and he form “WE” – you view yourselves as a team.
- You are able to recognise if you were wrong and apologise.
- Your relationship is your first priority.
It’s important to realise that you can’t expect something from your fellow teammate that you are not willing to do, give, or sacrifice yourself.
When you deal with things on your own and in isolation, it will be impossible for you to reach your full potential. As working wonder women, we need a “tribe”, but we also need a life partner who is a team player to enable us to be the best we can be.
In saying this, I’m not implying that you aren’t strong enough to take on being a working mom on your own – for many women this is a reality.
What I am saying is that each of us is WORTHY of this type of partner and teammate, provided that we give what we would like to receive from someone else. When you’re in a relationship that is a 100-100 partnership, it makes the journey of being a working mom, being tired, being everything-in-one that much more fulfilling.
You are not an island, you were not made to deal with life and all it brings on your own. If you do feel alone today, I pray that the Lord will answer your prayers and provide you with the right partner and teammate at the perfect time.