Well it’s usually Reader Question day here on Wednesdays but for over a month now I’ve not answered a reader question. Either people’s relationships are getting better and there are no more questions or I’m getting lazy and not writing as often as I should. The second is more likely but let’s not dwell on that. Yesterday I got a question! The email read:
Hi Wanjiru. I have been married for 2 years now and it has been a great journey. We have a baby on the way and we are very excited. There is something though that has been troubling me a bit. I feel like I no longer have time for myself. I have given all my time to my marriage. I come straight home after work to fix dinner, do a few chores and sleep. By the time the weekend rolls in I am so tired and sleepy. Weekends are equally busy with an event here and there or a guest coming over. By the time you know its Sunday night and I’m preparing for the coming week. When I was single I used to spend time with my girlfriends and watch a movie every so often. I had me time which now I don’t. My husband is a football fan and he goes out to watch matches with friends every other day. I’m starting to feel resentment towards him because he’s enjoying himself and I’m not. I’ve lost myself and I want me back. What do I do? – Jackie*
This is a question almost every woman struggles with, especially the first 5 years of marriage. We are called to be one and so when we get married our lives start to revolve around each other. And that is a good thing except too much of something is not good. If you spend every waking hour with someone it starts to be suffocating and you need some air. You need to step outside every so often to recharge. Plus when you two are fighting where will you go if you alienated all your friends? This is usually a woman issue most of the times. I have seen it so often nowadays I have added “how to not lose yourself to your marriage” in my bridal showers talks. And today I’m going to tell you what I tell the brides-to-be.
Better time management: There is more on your plate now that you are married. And more work is coming now that you have a baby on the way. What you need is to plan your time better so you have time left for you. For starters, free up your weekends. I remember when we got married the first months were spent entertaining guests who visited us almost every weekend. We also visited close friends who were recently married. And after 3 months of no free weekends we were exhausted! My husband and I agreed that in one month we would only host one guest and visit one friend. That left us with 2 free weekends to sleep in, catch a movie or do whatever each of us wanted. This of course means you also leave work in the office. Stop responding to emails at 8pm!
Get help and delegate: Most of us women once we get into married we immediately start to prove that we can do it all. We can manage that career, be a great wife and a phenomenal mother. And so we cook and do dishes and wash clothes and iron and do everything in sight. By the time we are done we are so tired our sex life is almost non-existent. And when those clothes stay unfolded for two days we feel we are not a good wife. If you want to find yourself again stop doing everything! Get help. Get a lady to do laundry every week. Get your husband to pitch in on some things. And stop being too hard on yourself. You are not a terrible wife just because the house is a bit dusty and you went to bed and left some dishes in the sink. Now that there’s a baby on the way you’ll need daily help. So start delegating now.
Have an individual hobby: Everyone has something they like doing and so do you. You mentioned you used to spend time with your girlfriends and also watch a movie or two. Start doing that again. Now that we’ve already talked about freeing up some time, resume your old hobbies. Or start a new one. Have at least one hobby you do without your husband. Joint activities are great but the point of this post is finding yourself again. Start gardening. Join a singing group. Whatever you enjoy doing. The reason you are feeling resentment towards your man is because he is having a good time with his hobby and you are not. Instead of starting to curtail his movements and refusing him to watch a game (which he will resent you for) find a way to enjoy yourself.
Look good, feel great: For some reason when we women get married we stop looking after ourselves. I’m not talking about gaining weight or looking haggard although that’s also an issue. I’m talking about being too selfless. We start to do joint budgets and consider all the things we need to do as a family. When we have a few extra money we buy a kitchen appliance or replace the seats. Because now all we think about is the family and our home. And that’s a good thing but it can be bad too. One day you wake up and realize you have not bought yourself a new dress in years and the last time you did your nails or went to the spa the old president was in power! So for starters, go to the salon every end month. As you fix your hair, get your nails done. Occasionally, get a massage. Every few months or so buy a new outfit.
Many of us have watched as a friend has lost herself in a relationship, sacrificing her identity to please her partner and make her relationship work. We have watched, and we have vowed that will never be us. Promised ourselves that we will never let that happen. Then we get married and that we become that person that person. It starts small, with you giving up the things that define you — going certain places, reading certain books, seeing your friends — and it grows to a place where you feel resentful of your partner because they are having a blast and you are not. So I remind you dear, look after yourself too. Why? Because you can’t pour from an empty cup.
Author: Wanjiru Kihusa
I am Wanjiru Kihusa and I’m a writer and founder of Still A Mum – an organization that seeks to reduce maternal and newborn deaths in Africa. I am especially passionate about women and children.
I blog to share my thoughts and experiences hoping that in the process someone will learn from my life.