It’s one of the complaints I hear the most (and make myself): Whyyyyyy doesn’t my husband see all the things I do around here?! Doesn’t he know what I DO for our family? I am so unappreciated!
Or, Why am I the only one who gets anything done around here? I am surrounded by laundry, and clutter, and whining, and homework, and playdates, and omg he better hurry up and come home, because I need a break!
Or, If I hear my husband complain one more time about how our house is a mess I’m going to scream. Doesn’t he know how busy I am? How would he like to be home for days on end, taking care of the house and the kids and everything that goes with it by himself? Why can’t he just say “Thank you” when he gets home instead of pointing out what I missed?
Sound familiar? You’re not alone.
Being a pilot’s wife is a tough job, and not everyone is cut out for it. There’s a TON of work involved, because that’s what happens when you’re the one in charge for days (or sometimes weeks) at a time. You are the one dealing with the day-to-day stuff, meals, kids, school, work (or staying at home, which is also work), appointments, groceries, laundry – the list is endless. So it can be really frustrating when what you do gets overlooked. And feeling unappreciated puts us on the fast track to feeling resentment.
Resentment builds, and you can feel it every time you start throwing dishes in the sink, thinking this is not what I signed up for, or yanking laundry from the dryer thinking, if anyone even tries to tell me my life must be so glamorous, so help me I will throat punch them . Or when you clean up yet another mess, and think is it wine time yet? Step away from the wine, friend. It’s 9 am.
What happens then is that we end up boiling over and complaining to our husbands when they get home that they have no idea what we go through while they’re gone. That they never notice the things we do, they take us for granted, and don’t appreciate anything. Then we get into a fight and waste the evening being mad at each other when we should have been enjoying his time off together.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we felt appreciated instead? I’m going to tell you how I got my husband to start appreciating me, and it starts by letting you in on a little secret, one that has helped me immensely:
Frustration and complaints are needs in disguise.
When we start to vent our frustrations, what we’re really doing is trying to express a need. The problem is, when we can’t name the need or give reason to our frustrations (we just know we’re super irritated about everything) it just comes out as anger or nagging. And then we become that angry wife that we really don’t want to be.
We all want to be recognized for what we do – which is a lot. I hear you, pilot wives and mamas. You’re tired. You’re worn out. And you just want some recognition and reward, which you absolutely deserve. Even if your husband hasn’t said it to you lately, I want to thank you for all that you do, because you are the foundation of a very special type of family. Your husband and children would not be able to thrive as well as they do without you. You are amazing! So thank you.
Now let’s work on getting that from your husband, mmmkay?
This next part may not be exactly what you want to hear, but I wouldn’t tell you about it unless I tried it myself and got results, so hear me out.
We’re looking for some empathy right? We want to feel acknowledged and appreciated. So how do you get someone to notice your efforts, to see what you’ve accomplished, and show some appreciation?
Step One: Be the hero.
So here’s the deal: If you want to get empathy, you have to give empathy. Ugh, I know, I know. We already do so much, and now we have to be the appreciative ones? Yes, yes we do.
I’ve heard Dr. Phil refer to it as being the relationship hero. (Even if you’re not a Dr. Phil fan, you have to admit he has good relationship advice.) Every relationship needs a hero, someone to step up and make the first move to start the momentum. So I’m going to ask you, have you noticed what your husband has accomplished lately? Have you given him any recognition for his help or what he does? Have you said “thank you” for anything lately?
I was reluctant to try this too, and believe me, it’s the last thing I feel like doing sometimes. But why would I ask my husband to do that if I’m not willing to do the same? If I want him to focus on my good qualities, then it’s only fair that I focus on his.
For one week (on his days off), without him knowing, I decided to thank my husband for things he did and actually take notice of what he got done. I’m usually so wrapped up in what I’m doing, that I forget to take note.
I noticed that he helped me clean up the kitchen after dinner and made sure the kids were done and had their dishes put away.
Later, I noticed that I never have to take the giant garbage cans out because he makes sure that he does it before he goes on a trip so that I don’t have to. Again, I said thanks – that was something I was taking for granted.
I started noticing a lot of things; he takes care of our yard while I’m at work, he helps our son with homework before I get home, he makes sure our son has money for lunch, he pays the bills while he’s on his trips, and he makes sure the floors are clean before he leaves. All of this made me realize that I’m just as guilty of not being appreciative.
And you know what? It worked. All of a sudden, he started thanking me back! The other day he said, “Thank you for taking care of the kids while I’m gone. You’re such a good mom to them.” It felt so good to hear that, and I know it’s because I started thanking him more. You give thanks, you get thanks. By shifting the focus off of myself and all the things I’m doing, I really had my eyes opened to what we both accomplish. And feeling like you’re part of a team is so much nicer than feeling alone.
Step 2: Take care of yourself.
This may not seem like it matters when it comes to getting your husband to appreciate you, but it actually does. Like I mentioned earlier, if you don’t know your needs (and how to meet them) you can’t expect anyone else to know either.
So what do you need? When we’re in the middle of taking care of everyone else, that’s a question that often gets put on hold. We spend so much time making sure that everyone else is taken care of, we neglect to check in on our own well-being. What is important to you? More alone time? To feel pampered? What do you think would help you feel more relaxed and happy?
If it helps you, write down a list. Grab a pen a paper and jot a few things down that you think would help you be the best version of yourself. For me, I need a break from the kids when my husband gets home. If I don’t get time to recharge and regroup after a week spent running errands, working, taking care of the kids, and cleaning, then I am one unhappy wife and mama.
Here’s another secret: When you take care of yourself, you stop looking for others to do it for you. Listen, no one is going to take care of you the way you need if you don’t take care of you first. No one is going to say, “Hey, it’s time for you to go get a pedicure, you look stressed!” That would be nice, but it’s not going to happen, and it’s also unfair to put our happiness on someone else. Does anyone schedule your doctor or dentist appointments? No, you do it yourself because it needs to be done! Same thing with your “you time” – you need to make it important, because it is. So schedule it!
Whether it’s getting a pedicure, going shopping alone, or meeting up with friends, your husband should be on board with helping you when he gets home. But he can’t help you meet your needs if you don’t make them known.
When you take care of yourself, it shows. You look better, feel better, and treat your family better. It’s much easier to find the good in things when we feel content with ourselves. It’s a win-win for everyone!
Step 3: Put him in your shoes – and get in his.
Sometimes, in order to really get our husbands to see what we deal with, they need to experience it for themselves. And I mean, really experience it.
Once or twice a year, I go on a trip for a couple days and leave my husband alone with the kids. This is important for a few reasons. First, my kids get to experience some extra-special dad time, which I think is so valuable considering he’s the one who is usually gone.
Second, my husband gets to experience what it’s like to take care of the kids and the house by himself without me there to help out. It’s quite an eye-opener, and he always tells me afterwards that it’s more work than he thought. (Insert my inner “told you so” happy dance.)
Third, I get to relax and spend some time recharging and getting back to feeling like myself – the person I am without a husband and kids. I love my husband and kids more than anything, so being away from them for a couple days makes me appreciate them even more. It also makes me realize how much my husband means it when he says he misses us when he’s on trips – you do end up missing the chaos, and it’s so sweet to come home to hugs and kisses and excitement that you’re home.
I know that days-long trips aren’t feasible for everyone, but even if you can squeeze in a short overnight or a long afternoon, it’s worth it for him to get a peek inside your world.
I challenge you to find the good in your husband this week. And I encourage you to thank him for what you notice he does – it might not happen right away, but I would be willing to bet that he starts noticing what you do, too.
Good luck, and let me know how it goes!
The Flight Wife