“True love honors both the individual and the relationship. The one cannot exist without the other. They are, in a word, interdependent.”
When you become a married woman you say your vows, “till death do us part”, “we are one,” or any other variation that makes a declaration to the world that you and your partner have joined together. What does it really mean to become ONE? Often times we get lost in our marriages and forget the women we were before then. This is not uncommon for women all over the world, but let's add children into the mix and we add in a whole other aspect to possibly losing yourself somewhere in the midst of it all. This edition to the UnSelfish Mom’s Guide to Self- Care is for the Married Mom, in hopes of realizing what she may have lost and ways to take back her time in an unselfish way!
Many women in their relationships put their all into it and many often fall into the trap of making that relationship all that they are, only seeing value in themselves through the context of that relationship or their families. The true measurement of your self-worth should come from within us, not from the roles we play in the lives of everyone else. When women begin to get sucked down onto this path that's when we stop thinking about ourselves and stop seeing the value of treating ourselves with the respect we deserve. This is why taking care of YOU needs to remain the #1 priority as both a wife and mom.
Being a wife to me means sharing your everything with another person. We are connected on so many levels but sometimes sharing everything can be tiresome. I cannot speak for every marriage but for us we communicate often, we share, we love hard, and we are simply in love and want to be around one another. But, what happens when Mommy needs her space and when she’s feeling overwhelmed and needs to just be alone? Society teaches us that we must wear the mothering wife hat 24/7 and think only of them and not ourselves 100% of the time. It’s all lies! What I can tell you is that you cannot give what you do not have. Have you ever heard the phrase “you can’t pour from an empty cup”? Well the same goes for your marriage and your parenting.
“Self-care is the acceptance of personal responsibility leading toward getting filled mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally. It begins with recognizing the truth about who you are — your identity and value in God.” - Dr. Greg Smalley and Robert S. Paul
Finding a balance in your self-care for you and your spouse
Marriage isn’t always sunshine, rainbows, and butterflies. I find it to be something like a plant that needs other properties to help it flourish. A plant cannot grow without water, oxygen, and the sun and the same goes for your partnership. Having open lines of communication helps in a way that if you are running on empty, you should be able to communicate that and vice versa.
Speak to each other about the things that bring you joy and let him know what you need. Men literally cannot read your mind ladies. You are doing great for yourself and your marriage by being open with him and letting him know that sometimes you may need a little space. He should know that you are your own woman outside of the marriage and as great husband he should support you in your efforts to live your best life.
For years I was the woman I described earlier, I put my self worth in what I could do for my husband and children. There was no Autumn first so whenever someone asked who or what I did my first response was always “I’m a wife and mom” as if those were the only titles that mattered to me. Most of this was because I was lost and felt that those titles were all of me. I lost sight of my true life’s purpose. But where I am now, I know that those titles are apart of who I am but they do not MAKE ME. The title of a wife has molded me and the title of mom has shaped me and many of my actions. They do not define who I am. So what did I do to begin the shift and make the change of putting myself first? Honestly, I began to see the value in self-care, I woke up to the reality that I would be healthier and happier if I put me first. Once I faced this reality I began to see how taking care of me began to manifest itself into happier children and a happier marriage.
In one of my very first blog post I spoke of 3 lessons that will last a lifetime and one that I attribute to taking my first step in self care and “ME” time was saying NO! That meant saying no to parents, to children, and to my husband and realizing that that's okay. It’s okay to say no to the 5th bake sale because you want to go to your weekly yoga class. Choosing you means having to say no to some things and, if that's one of your hurdles, once you start you’ll feel a weight lifted.
Are you ready?
Are you ready to start your self-care journey and need a few ways to take time for you, away from your husband and kids? Maybe at this moment, you are feeling doubt and shame thinking about all the ways you’ll feel the guilt weighing you down? First, STOP and KNOW that you are WORTHY of this time. You OWE it to yourself to think of YOU in this moment and every other chance you get, so take it.
Here are 6 self-care tips to get you started on your journey:
● Pray Separately Being married and having a faith based relationship, it makes sense to pray together and for each other. However, we must recognize our own relationship with God and take the time to build on that for ourselves. For me I’ve found that having that silent alone time fulfills me spiritually and allows me to take control of my spiritual connection. When you are connected in this way you can begin to see how taking that time for you seeps into your marriage and your children.
● Prioritize things that made you happy before One of things that I do now that I exed out once becoming a wife and mom is writing & reading. I used to finish books cover to cover in a matter of days and I would write stories in my journal that I kept all to myself. Yet, when you’re busy filling everyone else's cup, you forget about these small things. So pick up your old hobbies, whatever they may be, and get to doing them again. Create a checklist of all the things you used to do that made you smile and begin to slowly tick them off.
● Unplug We are so sucked into the internet that we get lost in what is happening in the world around us, which can very often make us forget about the star player in our lives. So disconnect for a week, a day, or even a few hours and just live life like it's 1989 and Facebook didn’t exist.
● Indulge I love chocolate and I have a very bad sweet tooth so I try not to do this too often but when I am feeling like I want to do something to fill my cup I reach for my secret stash of dark chocolate. It doesn't need to be sweets or desserts. Maybe you like to indulge in bad TV, target shopping, or make- up. Give yourself the chance to think about indulging in your guilty pleasure and I’m begging you not to feel bad about it the next day. Remember you are doing this for your self care!
● Treat yo Self! Pick a day and get your nails done, make a hair appointment, or book that deep tissue 90-minute massage you keep thinking about. Pampering yourself is an easy way to get out the house. Get dolled up, and feel great doing it. Many married or committed women will feel like they are getting cute for their spouse and, while they may enjoy the after look, you aren’t doing this for them. You are doing this for you!
● Exercise When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. Endorphins trigger a positive feeling in the body. This tip is two fold! You will feel happier and you’ll get healthier doing it. This is one you can get done daily!
Some options for exercising are as simple as going for a run, taking a spin class, or joining the local gym. Having this happy chemical inducing time away from the family will aide in your new journey of self care and you taking care of you.
Love yourself and be who you are, outside of your marriage and outside of your role as mother because at the end of the day your happiness matters most of all.
L. Autumn Colon
L. Autumn blogs at She’s A Wreck about honest modern motherhood, women’s lifestyle & fitness. She and her husband currently live in Brooklyn, NY with their son and daughter. She is a freelance writer of online digital content for women’s blogs world-wide, connect with her on Instagram, or Facebook.
When she not busy wrangling two school aged children and keeping them entertained beyond the latest technology she is working on her acting career and various entrepreneurial projects.
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