153. Help! I’m quarantined with a selfish husband!

When I was 16 years old I dated a great guy.

He was handsome, smart and made me laugh really hard.

I was in love head over heels. My (very) naive 16-year-old hormone-laden brain believed this was THE guy.

But all of this changed after. I. Met. His. Mom.

Nope. This isn’t another ‘monster-in-law’ story, in fact, his mom was sweet and accepting.

She welcomed me with a huge smile and hug! She even offered me to join them for dinner.

That’s when my inner compass began to go haywire.

Picture this – my, then-boyfriend and I, are sitting on the sofa in their living room. His mom approaches us with dinner, puts it in front of us on the little coffee table, along with cutlery and napkins, and leaves. Her son eats the soup, wipes his mouth, LEAVES THE DIRTY DISHES on the little coffee table, gets up and moves on with his day.

I don’t know what hit me that day but suddenly I had a prophetic moment. I saw our life together and me replacing his mom!!

I was the one cooking the dinner, plating it, serving it on the little coffee table (so he’s comfortable in front of the TV), then cleaning up without a question.

No. That was definitely NOT what I wanted for myself, or my husband.

This is NOT the kind of life I wished to model for our children.

It is easy to see that this kind of parenting and behaviour breeds selfish men, and there’s a ton of these guys out there.

But, that’s not what I wanted to write to you about.

You are a smart woman, and you know better.

You married a decent, self-sufficient man who knows how to serve and clean after himself.

I wanted to talk to you about a situation so many of us – women, wives and mothers, are facing right now during the quarantine.

Being locked down together with our partners and children, in each other’s faces 24/7, a lot of us find our male partners not showing up the way we expect them to.

Husbands exhibit selfish behaviour, and wives are getting angry.

I’ve asked the women in my community how this is showing up for them and here’s what they’ve answered:

If before quarantine your life was busy, now it’s hard. Real hard.

On top of your regular responsibilities you now have to homeschool your kids. Plan and cook endless meals. Experience the stress of grocery shopping during a global epidemic, manage everyone’s’ emotions. Manage household logistics. Do the laundry. Control screen time and the list goes o. All the while, still working from home.

The last thing you want is to manage an ADULT. It makes total sense.

So why are men so selfish? Why do they think it’s OK to disappear in the washroom for 40 minutes or workout in the middle of the day? Why do they expect us to take care of OUR house, OUR children and OUR money alone?

My business mentor, Lori Kennedy, shared in an article how a man was bragging about getting his wife a cleaning lady. His reasoning was ‘I hired a cleaner for my wife so she didn’t have to do it’.

That connected the dots for me. Excuse me? Isn’t this his house too? Isn’t he responsible for cleaning the house too?

This is a hard pill to swallow for many men and women, but this is our social conditioning playing out in full colour.

We, women, are socially trained to look after our children and homes, and men are conditioned that these are a woman’s job.

In other words, men learn that the house, kitchen and children are a woman’s domain. To keep the peace, they better stay out.

So they do.

Over time he becomes a ‘periphery’ parent. He sees himself as an occasional babysitter instead of a full-on co-parent.

He becomes an occasional lodger. He pays the rent and lives there, but other than a few chores here and there he doesn’t have to do much.

You ask for help, but he still doesn’t change so you pick your battles.

Your husband sees you owning your role in the house. He sees how you rock it. He doesn’t consider the burnout, because you take pride in it.

Your husband sees you running around, driving the kids to and from. Checking kids’ homework. Cooking, cleaning, sneaking in a load of laundry in between dinner and bedtime. Loading the dishwasher. And then working until midnight.

He sees you managing to do it all.

So how can you blame him?

You teach people how to treat you by what you allow, what you stop, and what you reinforce.

Dr. Phill

Quarantine life is a mirror. Not only because of the disruption to your normal routine but also due to what it makes you face at home. It turns the things that used to itch or tickle into a full-on inflamed bruise.

That burnout you feel isn’t new, is it?

Remember how you wished for him to help out with the kids more often?

Remember how you wished it would be great if he could make the dinner once or twice a week?

Or how about him regulating the kids’ emotions for once?

Be honest, none of this is new.

The difference is that now it’s in your face constantly and it burns!

So, what CAN you do?

I’m not a relationships experts but here’s what I do know to be true deep in my heart – it all begins with you. It begins with women understanding themselves and evolves into women understanding men.

When I got married, 11 years ago, I remember my Rabbi told me that if I wanted to be successful in my marriage I have to realize that the man is the head but the woman is the neck.

The head cannot turn without the neck.

So be a smart neck.

Understand yourself as a woman

In his book, ‘Unleash The Power of The Female Brain – Supercharging Yours for Better Health, Energy, Mood, Focus and Sex’, famous neuroscientist and founder of Amen Clinics, Dr. Daniel Amen talks about 5 points that make the female brain different:

  1. We have a higher capacity for empathy
  2. We’re better collaborators, we thrive in teams
  3. Women are concerned about the social cohesion of the group and are wired for a little worry (this is why you can’t sleep at night after you’ve had a fight with your child, or when you husband yells at your child)
  4. Women are more risk-averse than men
  5. Women have a greater volume in part of the PFC (executive part of the brain), which is the center of judgment, planning, empathy, and impulse control.

That explains a lot!

On top of that, women have ovaries, men don’t. Our endocrine system culminates every 28 days (approximately), while male hormones restart every 24 hours. This is huge!

This means that a male starts fresh every day, while a female needs more time to reset how she feels, what she craves, who she wants to interact with, how she wants to connect with the world, etc.

Every day is different.

Women, in general, have a larger capacity for emotional expression, but most women don’t know how to express themselves.

It’s like having the capacity for 88 piano keys but constantly playing middle ‘C’ day in and day out.

Your man needs you to feel and then express yourself in a way that will lend with him.

This is what being his ‘neck’ means.

Alison Armstrong, author, speaker and expert on understanding men, provides a clear list of why the woman of today struggles:

  • We have needs, but most of us put them aside in deference to the needs of others. We overvalue self-sacrifice and pay dearly for it.
  • We have the life-giving ability to nurture and provide for others but feel selfish or weak when we’re the ones who need nurturing or help. When we go without, we become resentful and can appear cold and hard.
  • We are challenged by our own limited ability to receive. We say, “No” to show our independence and self-sufficiency, and are left feeling resentful and alone.
  • When we are available to receive, we can get run-over, not knowing how to set boundaries with people we care about and not wanting to hurt or offend. We can feel like a doormat, fearful of being taken advantage of, fearful of getting in trouble, and eventually giving up because we lack the skill and ability to be receptive and self-honouring.
  • Women can become masculine as a result of today’s work and cultural environments. Not knowing how and when to switch back into feminine mode can be disastrous to relationships. Most of us have overdeveloped masculine attributes that leave us feeling unfulfilled and wondering, “Is this all there is?”

Sounds familiar?

Yes, woman, you are a complex being but you’re also magnificent. Understanding that is crucial to the health of your family, home, community and the world.

Understand Your Man

One thing you need to know about men is that a man follows a woman’s needs. Yes, if your man loves you he wants to please you and make you happy. I know this from my own marriage as well as from Alison Armstrong’s work.

I love this list of tidbits about communicating effectively with a man and getting what you want. This list will change your marriage and how you see each other. I promise, after reading and implementing some of the strategies, you will reconsider calling him ‘selfish’. I highly recommend reading Armstrong’s book The Queen Code for further exploration.

You will have more compassion and kindness towards him and yourself.

One of the most powerful ways to thrive in the dynamics between men and women is understanding a man’s NEED for a woman who knows how to be in her feminine. This is the essence of the polarity God created to make the male-female relationships thrive.

Every man desires for power and respect from his woman, but we rob it from them by doing it all. Women are afraid that being feminine means being weak.

He sees how strong you are. You never complain. You’re not a high maintenance woman. You can sustain yourself financially. If it wasn’t for the kids needing a father you wouldn’t even need him.

This is a recipe for disconnection and a divorce. I’m not talking about times when a divorce is absolutely necessary for both parties, but about times when a divorce could seem to allude for the wrong reasons.

Bottom Line

Your husband isn’t selfish, and if he is, you’ve allowed that to happen over time. He’s confused and lacking clarity. Remember, your man responds to you. To change that you have to take responsibility and ownership. I promise you if you do that, he will change.

During quarantine, compassionate crystal clear communication is key! Especially when you’re talking with a man. He needs clarity and consistency.

Here’s an example.

Instead of saying:
“Get off the couch and load the dishwasher” (degrading, emasculating, disrespectful)

Try saying:
“Honey, I’m going upstairs to get ready for bed. After you’re done watching your show please load the dishwasher. I really appreciate when you leave the sink clean for me.”
(respectful, receptive, non-nudging, empowering, allowing, feminine).

Here’s another example related to parenting:

Instead of saying: “you never spend time with the kids! What kind of father are you?”

Try saying:

“Honey, there’s something I’ve never told you – when we got married I saw great potential in you to be a great father. I know you’re tired, overworked and busy, and I appreciate everything you’re doing for our family. I and the kids feel safe with you, you are our rock! I think right now, during quarantine is a great opportunity for the kids to experience the true you. What do you think?”

He needs to see you in your receptive, allowing and most feminine so that he can step into the great man he is. Allow that.

Being feminine doesn’t mean being weak. It means showing up more gentle, less criticizing, compassionate, believing, trusting, receptive, magnetic.

If you want to learn more about how to engage your feminine I have a whole podcast dedicated to that! So go ahead and binge-listen. If short on time, start with this one.

You are also welcome to join me for my upcoming 5-day challenge, we being on Monday, April 27th. Click here to register.

If you’re ready to cultivate flow in your body, home and work and need support and coaching, book your free intro call here, we’ll hop on the call and see if we’re a good fit.

Regardless of what you decide to do, I want you to know that I believe in you.

You totally got this!