Here are five tips on what to do if you think you’ve become a mother to your man:
1. The first step to becoming partners again is owning and acknowledging what we call the ‘Mother Syndrome’ problem. Even though many women tell me how resentful and angry they are about having to take on the bulk of responsibility at home, despite having a career and working as many hours as their spouse, they typically don’t make the connection between this and their lack of intimacy (not to mention respect, love, fun) until I point it out. Then, they usually sigh with relief—finally understanding how impossible it is to feel like being a lover to one’s mate when you feel like you’re his mother!
2. We ask you to assess the main task areas in your home, from cleaning to food to management to child-rearing, and see what is happening in these areas and how each of them can make you his mother. What we found in researching our book is that in spite of women holding down day-jobs, they are still doing two-thirds of the homemaking and childcare, and three-quarters of the ‘core’ tasks. And those are just averages: the situation is even worse in many homes.
3. The next step is understanding the broken dynamics and toxic behaviours that have evolved between you and your spouse as a result of being stuck in this dismal state. These behaviours can include nagging, sniping, acting like a child. There is resentment in the air on both sides, and you eventually see your spouse as just another one of your children. He doesn’t like this any more than you do. It’s a travesty of the romance you once had.
4. Once you’ve owned the problem and understood the broken dynamics between you, you will need to explore the sexual fallout. Why would you want to be intimate with your partner when you’re so angry at him for not pulling his weight at home? For not being on your team? You may not even be aware—until now—of all the anti-erotic signals you send him so that he’ll keep his distance. Like wearing a tatty nightshirt to bed or clipping your toenails in bed.
5. Then you will need to get your wish list straight. You will need to figure out what tasks and responsibilities you’re willing to relinquish control of and what you want to hold onto. Once you’ve drawn your own picture, you’ll need to get his input too, so that you can begin negotiating the best way to balance your contributions at home.
Read more of Sara’s tips in How Can I Be Your Lover When I’m Too Busy Being Your Mother?