First, let me say that I love my husband. He is sweet, sensitive, strong, intelligent, and creative. If asked, he will tell anyone that he is completely devoted to me and our family.
But, if you had asked me 6 months ago if I was happy in my marriage I would have told you no. Absolutely NOT. I was on the brink of leaving him and filing for divorce.
And, truth be told, he was not any happier than I was. We were arguing constantly, and although he understood most of why I was angry and frustrated with him, he said he didn't know how to fix it.
I began to see my husband as lazy, inconsiderate and someone who just did not care. He insisted that was not the case, but actions show things words do not.
He was constantly promising to do things, and then "forgetting" The list of broken promises stretched back for years. He was forgetful: he even forgot to pay the electric bill, resulting in the power being shut off several times. He was distant with me and uninvolved with our kids. My husband looked like a man who simply did not care.
He always had between 5 and 10 unfinished projects going on. Some as small as putting away a ladder. Others were complex, like repairing the tile in the downstairs shower. But, with all these projects in various stages, it never seemed as if he actually accomplished anything.
Meanwhile, I felt stuck. I was caring for and homeschooling our 6 kids, doing all the housework, all the cooking, managing all the kid activities, plus working a full time job and a part time job from home. I was running from 6 am until 1 am every day of the week trying to keep our family together. My husband seemed to thing that simply going to work every day was enough.
Finally one afternoon I had had it with him. I was done with the broken promises, forgotten tasks and doing everything myself. I told him we were done. I started looking for a home for myself and our children. In a final ditch effort to save our marriage, my husband resurrected a private on-line journal that we started several years ago as at way to discuss hot emotional topics without him getting defensive.
In tears, I read through 5+ years of conversations. It occurred to me that we had been having the exact same fight over and over again for years. It also occurred to me that my husband had been asking me to give him more direction in my expectations of him in every area of our life. There were several times in that journal where he flat out said, "I don't know what is most important. Can you give me a list?"
I had always told him no.. to grow up and learn to assess each situation for the most important tasks and then go do them.
His response to that was always the same. He was clueless.
My ideas of a fair and balanced relationship required him to learn to look around and decide for himself what needed to be done. Whether we were talking about the housework, kids' needs, work goals or relationship goals, I expected him to understand the tasks needed at any given time. The idea of telling him what needed done was a turn off to me. It was like treating him like a child.
And yet, my sweet husband would constantly make comments like "If you're not happy, I'm not doing my job." Or, "Seeing you happy is my sole mission in life." One time when I asked him to do me a favor his response was "I live to do things for you."
In my experience with men, comments like that were nothing more than sweet utterances designed to earn brownie points. Never had I met a man who was so devoted to his woman that he would willingly serve her.
As I re-read those 5 years of journal conversations I began to understand that this man, my husband, really and truly *meant* those things. That he craved direction from me. Not because he was incompetent and incapable, as I had come to believe, but because he truly, deeply wanted/needed to do only those things which made me happy. His entire self worth was wrapped around my contentedness with him as my husband. When he was unsure what I wanted him to do first, he became tense, stressed and unable to choose a path.
I started reading about female led relationships and what the men in those relationships got from the arrangement. As I read blogs and websites written by female led men I saw a lot of my husband in the words of those guys. I decided to give this a try.
Without mentioning female led relationships I asked my husband if it would help if I gave him a daily task list. His relief was obvious. So, I started emailing him a list of items to do every morning and every afternoon. To my surprise, he happily completed most of the items on the list. But, more importantly, our relationship changed. Our conversations became more intimate. He cuddled more. Before we would go weeks without even touching in passing. Now, he made it a point to sit next to me, to give me little kisses at random moments. We held hands more. He started opening up emotionally, sharing thoughts, dreams, goals, and fantasies more easily than he had in years. My husband was obviously less stressed, more relaxed, and happier than he had been in years. His mild depression seemed to fade within 2 weeks.
Our kids saw a difference, too. My husband played with them more, listened to them more closely and seemed to really enjoy just "being dad."
We evaluated the arrangement a month later. His take on it was that he no longer had to guess at what he needed to do each day. He no longer had to listen to his brain telling him to try to complete 50 things at once. My lists made it okay for him to focus on just one thing at a time. During the evaluation period, my husband asked me to continue taking the lead role in all areas of our life. He says he's happier than he ever has been. And as for me, I'm no longer scoping out divorce lawyers.
I have to admit.. I still don't completely understand why he needs this from me. But, from talking to my husband and listening closely to his words and actions I do know that he is happier and more confident in our new arrangement.