The first year of marriage is often blissful and the most memorable. I had heard a lot of people say this before always wondered, “why just the first year?”. As long as a couple keeps the flame burning, every year can be like that, right? Or so I thought! I didn’t realize how quickly I’d grow tired of being strong!
Just a few decades ago, the notion that women will always take care of the house in any marriage was widely agreed upon. While things have changed a little when it comes to what people expect from women and their roles as homemakers, I was ready to take on both my career and the responsibilities at home.
I thought I’d be able to handle it all, while still doing good in my career. Little did I know that I’d end up saying things like “I’m tired of everything” pretty soon into the marriage.
How I Tried Doing Everything In My Marriage
When I got married, the first year was no doubt a bed of roses. We were completely besotted with each other. People couldn’t believe this was an arranged marriage and our courtship period had hardly lasted a few months.
As an independent, strong willed multitasker, I took pride in being able to manage anything and everything by myself. Unwittingly, I applied this to our new home as well.
Whether it be cooking a full-fledged 4-course meal or doing the dishes, laundry, managing groceries, bills and other household chores, I chose to do them alone. I felt a sense of pride in being able to manage my job and a house all by myself. It wasn’t as though my husband was forcing me to do any of it, or even that he was patriarchal. I just felt a sense of fulfillment in being strong for others.
Related Reading: Sharing Household Chores And Responsibilities Equally In Marriage
In the beginning, things were going well. It was taxing, no doubt, but I thought I’d never get tired of being strong.
I paid no heed to others warning me about the consequences
At times, I was drained and I hardly had time for myself but I never thought of initiating a discussion with my hubby. In hindsight, I realize I was rather naive. Women at my workplace who had been married for longer and had kids advised me not to make such elaborate 4-course meals. “Don’t get him used to so much comfort. Don’t set such high expectations that you need to face the consequences later. You’ll end up saying “I’m tired of taking care of everyone else very soon”
I always looked at them with disdain and pitied their husbands. I looked at it as a means of asserting dominance and a wish to control their husbands. I thought my husband would be able to manage expectations in the relationship. Now, I realize what they used to tell me made a lot of sense.
It’s not about control; it’s all about working together and sharing the workload.
With women working long and stressful work hours, and longer commute times in big cities, household chores tends to take a toll. In such a situation, I don’t see anything wrong if a man chips in helping his wife in the kitchen and outside too.
It started to dawn on me that perhaps I had bit off a little more than I could chew. I went from taking such pride in my ability to manage everything to becoming tired of being the strong one exponentially quickly when we had a baby.
I Am Strong But I Am Tired Of Doing Everything
Handling your work and things like cooking cleaning and looking after the home started taking a toll on me. Things changed drastically when we had a baby. It hit me like a bolt from the blue and shook me to my core. I could never have envisioned that this tiny bundle would create such havoc in my life. The relationship problems after having a baby kept getting worse.
From sleepless nights to feeding troubles, she kept me on my toes. I realized immediately why the older women at my workplace had warned me about this. I still tried to handle a bit of everything, but I couldn’t help but think to myself “I’m strong, but I’m tired”.
I had my mom and grandmum by my side, thankfully, and they helped me tide through. But, with the earlier ‘superwoman’ kind of expectations that I had set, I was starting to see the repercussions now and it wasn’t good. My life changed big time.
He snored blissfully, unaware of me waking up at 1.30 in the morning and trying to soothe a wailing baby who refused to sleep a wink. He didn’t have to feel the guilt that ate me up when I had to supplement my baby’s feed with formula.
After a few months, the baby settled down, but I had to rejoin work, which meant life was hectic again. I now needed support and help, but there was none to be found. And that was when I got irritated. And big time. It led to nasty fights, with me drawing comparisons between him and other hands-on dads. I couldn’t figure out how to deal with an unsupportive husband.
When he said things like “I thought you took pride in taking care of it all”, it felt as though he was taking advantage of this foolish task I had set out for myself. A disappointed look took over his face when I said “I am strong but I am tired”, as though it was a crime for me to be exhausted.
I explained to him the kind of help and support I’d need for him, perhaps not always in the kindest tone, but I managed to put my point across. I told him how I’m tired of being strong and that I’ll now require his help with everything. As he was used to not helping out around the house, it felt like I had asked for all his assets and land from him!
Related Reading: How Can Working Women Strike A Balance In A Joint Family
Things got a little better when I received support
We are past that phase now, though I would be lying if I said all the bitterness had completely vanished. There are some scars both ways that are yet to heal. Time will tell. When he finally started helping out, no matter how minimal, he finally realized why I said I was tired of being strong. We both realized a good marriage is based on support.
I wouldn’t blame him as much as I would blame myself for not setting the correct expectations right from the start. People often told me these things need to be discussed before marriage, that the roles and responsibilities must be defined and shared. You take care of laundry, he pays the bills; you cook he cleans up the dishes.
What’s wrong with that? But I never paid heed to all of that. “I am strong, independent, and can do everything by myself, be it analyzing the P & L of a trading desk or making food.” But this notion of mine was shaken and proved wrong after I had a baby.
And that’s why I would advise all young women out there, it’s never too late to have this conversation with your beau. It’s better to have confrontations now than repercussions later. If left for later, things get much uglier, and the after-effects are bitter. I have learned my lesson that being strong is not always ideal.
When you are tired of being strong, be it in any dynamic, you should figure out if you’re taking on more than you can do. Figure out exactly what the problem area is, and don’t be afraid to ask for support.
Let go of the obligations you’ve set on yourself to always be the one who’s handling everything. Ask for support, be honest and communicate your feelings.
Depending on how healthy your relationship is, marriage can feel exhausting or like a well-oiled machine. When basic principles of a good marriage like support, respect, trust, and of course, love are truly adopted, things will stop being exhausting.
If there’s something in your marriage that is hard to deal with and makes it exhausting, make sure you communicate well with your partner. Only by expressing your concerns will you ever be able to address them.