Why Wives Shouldn’t be Passive

Traditional marriages often fall deep into traditional roles, but this doesn’t need to be the case. Let him hear from you.

Married women have just as much right to choice as single women do. Yes, we are committed to the union, however, that does not mean we now give up all semblance of happiness at the altar of marriage. Do you realize what this “giving up” does to your marriage? It fosters resentment. The resentment will come from you, and apathy is what you’ll receive from your husband.

Challenge him, challenge his thinking. Don’t behave as if the marriage is too fragile, that it’s going to fall apart at any minute if you stand up and say something “wrong”, or tell him that something is wrong. If you treat the marriage like it’s fragile, it will be.

What about him? What if his ego is fragile? Well, let’s hope he’s not completely egotistical, but if he is, it’s better to know it.

Give him a chance. Give him a chance to be the good guy; to know what you are really thinking and feeling. Some issues are too little to worry about, and others are not easily solved. But letting everything get swept under the rug in the name of “keeping the marriage together” is making for an incredibly unbalanced, unhealthy relationship. I don’t just mean equality for women as a principle, I mean for each of you to develop a general attitude and behavior of caring about what each other is experiencing. Not to prove you’re a good wife, but because you actually care about what each other is experiencing.

I’m not talking about asserting yourself in authority above another person. That’s just the same problem in reverse. I am saying to be assertive enough to let him know what you’re thinking and how you are feeling. If he is going to act against your better judgment, he should at least know what that judgment is. Then at least you can truly know whether or not he is deserving of the resentment you’ll inevitably feel toward if he steamrolls you.

Women have traditionally been taught to be passive. We’re taught to keep the peace. It’s even hard for me, when I find myself needing to say something that contradicts what my husband has just said. It’s hard because I feel like I’m rocking the boat. It feels as if having an opinion makes us automatically responsible for the other person’s reaction to our opinion, right? We are not responsible for their reaction, but we are responsible for our delivery.

But what if he never hears your opinion? Then how can he act on it? We are taught to never complain, but a suggestion is not a complaint. A New perspective should be welcome in a stable marriage relationship. You are doing both of you a disservice if you always keep quiet.

Something women do automatically is ask a lot of questions, and invite a lot of feedback. Men do not automatically do this. Therefore, women tend to automatically feel that someone has laid down the law and is very, very firm in their decision, when really it’s just a difference in communication style. If you feel timid in bringing up a point you fear he’s not ready to hear, consider asking a question.

“May I make a suggestion?”

If he says no, then that means he had to hear himself telling you that you are not allowed to make a suggestion. It helps him reveal his true character.

What is the consequence of him not knowing your true feelings on things? What if you go along very easily with everything, in an attempt to never contradict or complain. Then you rob him of two things. You rob him of the chance to get to know his real wife, and you rob him of the opportunity to spend time taking another person’s feelings into consideration.

It is best for both of you if you consider yourselves as a partnership.

What do people become if they only see success and never meet with any resistance? Spoiled. Entitled. They do not know what a good thing they have. So speak up. Disagree agreeably. Not with fear, but with courage. With the confidence of knowing this is a good man, and you are a good woman, and you are a partnership. Do not spoil him in that way. Help him rise to the occasion and become who he is destined to become.

It’s hard because before we were women, we were children. Many of us were parented traditionally, which means we were encouraged to keep our opinions to ourselves, because the grown-ups in traditional households don’t want to hear the opinions of children.

We have heard men in leadership positions speak kindly of their wives, saying their wife never once complained about all she had to go through. I would like to ask a clarifying question: does this mean she never had an opinion? Does this mean she always went along with whatever you said no matter what?

I am guessing they would tell you the answer is no. Their wife was accepting of the inevitable challenges of marriage, but that does not mean she was accepting of his total dominance of the relationship. They most likely could not have become general authorities if they never had to spend a moment thinking about the feelings of their wife.

It’s very possible that one of the qualities that helped keep them from having constant battles and struggles is that they had developed a habit of asking questions and inviting input. Then, who would have to complain? What is there to complain about? There is only the giving and taking of ideas, with an eventual conclusion being reached together.

Men who call women nags are the same men who are not interested in hearing from them in the first place. There is not necessarily anything wrong with that woman. However, she may be speaking in a way that is passive aggressive, because she was never invited to be assertive. If you’re waiting to be invited; don’t wait anymore. Men don’t invite each other to be assertive; they just are. If you are assertive, too, then a good man will respect you for it. It will STRENGTHEN the marriage, not weaken it. If the relationship is weakened when you are being strong, then what does that say about the relationship?

Don’t wait for him to ask what you think

Babies who are ignored tend to cry. Women who are ignored tend to complain. It is every bit as much his responsibility to take care of this marriage as it is yours. Elevate him to the status of one who is an equal partner with his wife.

Do not abdicate the responsibility of all decision-making to him. That’s cheap. That way you get the right to be unhappy about all of his decisions, since you took no part in them. You get to maintain a victimhood status. Taking an active role in the decisions means you don’t get to sit back and blame someone else for the decisions. But it does mean you are empowered far beyond what you would be if you only had the power to blame someone else.

Married men are much healthier than single men of the same age. We do a good job taking care of our men, by and large. But we do them a disservice if we do not help him to grow his character. If we are disgruntled pushovers, obligated to uphold his every word in every situation. Don’t treat him like he’s a monarchical dictator (you certainly don’t want him to become one).

I cannot overstate the importance of believing this is your right and your duty. Otherwise you will speak like a petulant child; a teen who is complaining that their parents never listen to them. This is not a good place for him to be acting well from. Give him the benefit of the doubt that he actually cares for you. Give him the chance to be a good man.

Too many people are living beneath their potential because of women who will not speak up in good faith. That means they only speak up out of exasperation, and how does that sound from the other end? It sounds like you’re complaining about your boss. It sounds like you’re making him out to be the bad guy. But you didn’t marry a bad guy, you married a good man.

With work you can see eye to eye

Believe he is that man. Have faith that he is a good man. Believe he can rise to the challenge of meeting the requests of his wife by confidently sharing those requests. Most men are pleased to bend over backwards to make their wives happy. Just be sure to say it as a request between equals.

How I’m Helping My Kids Stay on Track for Homeschool During Quarantine

This is a picture of what I’m doing today to keep my youngest girls to stay on task with their school work. It matters to me that they’re motivated, rather than forced (otherwise it’s miserable for all of us!!) This has been the best strategy so far:

You don’t have to be an artist to create these simple hand-drawn charts to help track & visualize tasks for kids who are homeschooling.

You don’t need any special print-off; just trace their hands on a paper and write which actions earn them a sticker to put on each nail – or just use crayons if you don’t have stickers. Be as vague or specific as you need to be. Just keep it fun! The girls’ tasks here are divided into things like worksheet pages, 15 minutes at a time on math, reading a short book, as well as simple chores changing into their day clothes or clearing off their place at the table.

Ten is still a pretty big goal number, so I gave my littlest a bonus prize when she earned 5 stickers for the first hand, and the girls will each earn a manicure from Mommy once they’ve adorned all 10 fingers!

Traditional weekly fill-in-the blank charts were doing nothing for us, because they proved to be too abstract for a 5 and 7 year old. Then again, I can never expect that a chart will “do something” for me. Strategies fail quickly when they aren’t backed up by effort. Reminder charts have to be referred back to frequently so they get a chance to remind us to do the work. Having a visual strategy with short-term goal setting did really enhance their efforts, and the girls were happily referring back to these charts on their own!

This system is better than what we were doing before, because it visually displays how they’re progressing overall, rather than waiting all day for any benefits as they go through the mental list (usually I would just end up enduring the push-pull cycle!) This is also preferable to receiving little rewards for EACH step in the right direction, because they’re still getting some delayed gratification.

My kids’ school allows them to be self-paced, which has its own challenges, but I imagine visualizing a “countdown” could also be useful for those children who seem to have endless Zoom meetings.

I have a bonus tip which I’ve shared with some of my other young clients who have to endure back-to-back zoom meetings: Make tally marks as you listen to lectures. Use two categories, labeled “Stuff I already know” and “Stuff I didn’t know before” (or “New” and “Review”). This simple system gives your brain something to scan for, and scanning requires a lot less effort (and therefore requires less motivation) compared to the expected task of active listening. Think of scanning like when you’re in an environment with a lot of background noise and you hear your name; suddenly you pay attention! Your name is something your brain is programmed to scan for, without conscious effort. Depending on the subject, your brain could be casually scanning for “novel information” in order to try to add up tally marks. You might count your tallies to gauge how well you were listening. **Extra credit if you actually write down what the new information IS!!**

Have a better day!
Love,
Janina

I Need to Declutter & Here’s a Glimmer of Hope

Admission: I have spent several months with one foot in my business project, and one foot in being a stay-at-home mom (that was my full-time gig up until this year when my youngest daughter started preschool – now it’s only most of time!) I find myself not really being able to give my heart to either very effectively in the moments that I need to. Over the years I’ve become anxious of taking the plunge into ADD-hyperfocus mode, which has kept me just short of finishing some fabulous ideas which are sitting at about 90% done. I want to do more.

Today I started a Skillshare class, and it is REALLY good, you guys! It’s by motivational speaker and life coach TJ Walker, and he calls it How to Organize your Home Effectively. I knew I would get more motivated to tackle the house if I watched it listened to something on the subject. One of the important questions he asked is for us to define our “why?”

My why: I want to feel unburdened so I can start my blog/business without all the guilt. I’ve heard that clutter is a result of indecision, and I’m finding clutter also creates MORE indecision, since I can’t decide whether to work on the clutter or something more meaningful to me.

So now as I approach decluttering, I’m thinking it’s actually best for me to cultivate a mindset, not motivation and willpower and focus, or determination and endurance. I need to just get in the mindset of being decisive. I don’t even need to feel “inspired”. I don’t even need to do it for very long at once.

Being decisive doesn’t mean I know I’m making “the right choice”. It means I’m able and willing to handle the consequences of whatever choice I make. It’s kind of like being… Confident.

There you go, a little motivation for both of us and a blog post written in only 30 minutes! Write YOUR “why” in the comments; in other words, the reason you want to do this hard thing, whatever is staring you in the face, then go do it! đŸ„°

Update: Important realization – I still had to get myself used to the idea of doing it even once I made the decision. Once I started, I gradually gained momentum. Nowhere near where I want to be, but I can’t expect to do it all in a day (maybe that’s why I keep hesitating? Is that my unrealistic expectation?) I am glad to have the advice from any geniuses out there with suggestions for keeping up on papers!

What’s Blocking Your Path?

“I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.”

Charles R. Swindoll

The other day my youngest daughter was putting up our play chairs all in a row to make a path for her to walk across. The problem was that her path was blocking my path. As I came up to her creation, my hands were full of things I was trying to carry to the kitchen.

“Great,” I muttered to myself, “now I can’t get through.”

My daughter had “blocked” my way with chairs, and the other end of the table was even more blocked because we’re remodeling. I decided she’d better move her little project somewhere else.

“Wait, what?” I questioned myself, “Did I seriously just say I can’t about this tiny little problem? This obstacle is totally surmountable!”

My daughter came in the room and asked innocently, “Do you like the path I made?”

“Yes, I do!” I proclaimed. Honestly, I didn’t even have to move the row aside in any way, I only had to step over to get to the other side. Fortunately for her, Mommy had been learning about perceived mental barriers, otherwise I might have felt irritated or even overwhelmed. Instead I was excited, and I wanted to share my insight with you!

I felt cheerful every time I saw the “Great Wall of Chairs” that I had to step over, because my brain was continually registering the assignment as impossible, and I kept practicing overriding that thought. It was strangely empowering. I was even motivated to sweep the floor (well enough to take a picture). 😉

Not every obstacle we run up against is so simple. Life is complicated and life is hard, but try to avoid telling yourself, “it’s TOO hard.” That’s called mental resistance. Having mental resistance about a problem we face only makes it more difficult to solve, or more difficult to endure.

Your brain is programmed to protect you from expending too much energy, and it tells you to avoid anything difficult or stressful. That kind of programming can work for us or against us. Don’t be afraid of the effort it will take to tackle a problem that at first seems too hard to face; or to experience a feeling that seems too hard to feel.

Those of us with ADHD experience a LOT of mental resistance when it comes to doing the most ordinary, mundane things. Rather than trying to escape, next time you run up against a wall of something you “can’t” get over, challenge that thought. Doubt what your brain is programmed to tell you, and see if your problem really can be overcome. Perhaps with more effort, and more external support, I hope you can feel empowered to do all kinds of things you never thought you could!

That is one of the great hopes I have for this blog; that it will inspire you to reach and grow beyond your own expectations. Start small, and when you notice an obstacle, you can think of it as an opportunity to practice overcoming.

Share what you learn! I’m excited to see what you come up with, and how a difference in perspective changed an experience for you!

What’s Next? (Don’t put it off!)

I’m going to walk you through my mental process of creative problem solving. Of course all the mental dialogue took place in seconds, but I’ll slow down the pace a bit to keep it comprehensible. 😉 Here we go…

Problem (aka circumstance): Last night I really wanted to start in on my latest recording project *but* I knew that I should get back into doing my evening routine, since my routines had been neglected for the past several days. All week I had the driving thought, “How much can I get done with this little piece of time?” “Ooh, here’s a dull moment, let me escape into this, my latest obsession…” (Classic ADHD thing)

Realization: I stopped a moment and recognized that everything I wanted to do was part of a rather endless project. (How many times have I told myself? “Don’t start projects at bedtime!”)

Resolution: Endless projects cannot be allowed to fill all available time.

Initial Solution: So, I turned my internal dial to “slightly more responsible”, and instead asked myself, “What is it I’m supposed to be doing right now?” 

Setback: That’s a complicated question, actually. I often get stuck in a hamster wheel of what am I supposed to do now? What am I supposed to do now? (Classic anxiety response to an ADHD thing)

Better approach: I found it to be more helpful to ask myself, “What’s coming up next?”

I used to think people only said, “What’s next?” when they had accomplished everything they needed to and were ready to move on, but I’ve observed that “what’s next?” is a question that organized people regularly ask themselves, even when they’re NOT finished yet and NOT quite ready to wrap things up or move on. Hmm, curious…

Good advice: They check in frequently just so they can be ready for what’s coming.

Solution: I can do that. Since the thing that was coming up next for me was bedtime (a couple hours hence) I thought, “What do I need to do before I can start getting ready for bed?” I went through a mental checklist;

  • Drink lots of water
  • Set out medications and breakfast dishes for tomorrow
  • Be sure there are clean dishes for breakfast
  • Be sure there is no wet laundry waiting for me
  • Lock exterior doors
  • Check THE TO-DO LIST

Setback: UGHHH… My natural instinct is to feel overwhelmed at facing whatever is coming up next, even small things such as calling the doctor, emailing a teacher, setting up that darn voicemail (again!?) Sometimes I feel totally lost, unsure what’s expected of me, but other times, like tonight, I know what I need to do next and I inwardly groan, because I know I’m behind, so I don’t even want to think about it. 

**Dangerous thought! Quarantine it when found!**

Better approach: Thinking about a problem is the first step to solving it – don’t avoid that first step! What is it exactly our brains are protecting us from by steering is away from thinking about what’s uncomfortable? Be willing to ask yourself hard questions even when you’re NOT feeling “ready”. Seriously, just thinking about something can initiate the stress of being in the middle of the situation, and our brains seem to think everything will be catastrophic. (Classic anxiety thing)

**Getting into a habit of ignoring problems exacerbates the problem.**

Solution: With that thought in mind, I knew it was crucial for me to really face my upcoming responsibilities tonight, not just go on in blissful ignorance until I’m slapped upside the head by the panic monster after they become due.

Action: I sat down and began planning the next day, and eventually planned for the whole upcoming week (for the first time in a while!) I hadn’t felt very much like “adulting” when I started, but I accepted some temporary discomfort, and motivation showed up as I got into the groove. I reminded myself not to be afraid to merely think about something. I coached myself as I might coach a client:

  • Some of these to-do’s are more urgent than others, focus there.
  • Some things are already past due (oh THAT’S what I had been avoiding) but that does not mean I am a failure. No shame in imperfection.
  • Some things do seem daunting, but that doesn’t mean I’m required to feel overwhelmed. I have a choice.
  • Affirmation: I’m experienced enough – with breaking tasks down into smaller, bite-sized pieces – that I can really have faith in the process.

Result: When I was done planning I felt so much better! I knew that I had made a map that I could follow, and all was not lost.

Bonus: It’s a more wholesome pleasure to spend a few minutes outlining a blog post now with my responsibilities behind me, rather than having them looming large ahead of me.

Moral of the story: This is one of the most critical things for people with ADHD (or for anyone, really) to learn: When we are facing a potential conflict, like needing to decide what’s for dinner, or have a delicate conversation, or plan an event, our brain is wired to protect us from whatever it is that we fear, whether it is worth fearing or not. Have you ever noticed that?

Avoidance is so stressful! Living in the  moment is not what “being present” really means. Ease and instant gratification are only fleeting illusions. Living without regard to the future is a recipe for stress, disappointment, anxiety, and continued avoidance.

Better approach: We all can learn to recognize that not every fear crossing our mind is valid. When we live mindfully, we can notice those feelings that pop up, and we can scrutinize them. I would encourage you to get into the habit of cross-examining yourself when you feel like escaping.

Embrace those fears, look at your calendar for tomorrow, see what is coming up next week and beyond, and make a habit of actually doing it! (That’s a subject for another post!)

Tell me, what is it that you are avoiding right now? Is it something that’s coming up, or something that’s been building up?