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Is there any reasonable way I can help my wife with her stress levels
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She has a lot to be stressed about. Things aren't perfect between us. We have a nearly 3 year old who is struggling to get back into a groove with "school" after the Christmas break, and to adjusting to the increased attention levels his 5 month old sister is getting. Today was a really bad one for my wife so far, our son was acting out about basically everything. She was able to walk away from him when she felt like she was going to yell or do worse, so at least there's that.

She also has insanely high standards, expects to be perfect etc. House has to be perfectly clean. If she has friends over she has to make something special. I think a lot of this is common among women today with various sources inflicting these types of things.

Almost anything we could attempt to do, stresses her out. If I try and do more stuff around the house (I promise I do quite a bit, or marital issues aren't related to the level of effort I put in) it throws her off, especially because I can't do it perfectly her way. Getting a cleaning service to come in once a month would stress her out, if nothing else due to the money than being upset if they clean and don't put things back perfectly.


I can't simply say "Lower your standards, you're making yourself miserable." That clearly won't work. But I don't know if I can, or if is is feasible, to help her have more reasonable expectations. We're going to see a marriage counselor, so hopefully that will help. We had our first session yesterday. She isn't going back for at least 2 weeks, and going will stress her out more.

She's at her wits end, and I'm really worried that she'll implode or explode. Has anyone been able to help you with similar issues?



ETA:

Our son goes to "school" three days a week (M/W/F) for 3 hours. On Monday's when he's at school she does a church women's group. Twice a week she goes to Zumba. Once a month two different mom groups do a night out. I feel like there would be some decent chances for her to relax a little, but seemingly none of that helps. It's not enough? Not the right kind of stuff?
Last edited by: Tridiot: Feb 5, 14 11:47
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Re: Is there any reasonable way I can help my wife with her stress levels [Tridiot] [ In reply to ]
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I think she needs to talk to someone. Outside of your marital counseling. How you convince her to do this I'm not sure.

Someone needs to objectively help her figure it out. Maybe it's a bit of PPD? Could you approach it from a clinical standpoint, or convince her to talk to her dr about it? Or better yet - if things are a bit rocky between you, could you enlist one of her friends/family to bring up the idea? If you do it that way I'd be careful who you ask & how. I could see her getting defensive if it gets brought up the wrong way.

Basically you want her to be happy the best version of her, right? I'd say that's a pretty reasonable thing to want.

Stress with kids is normal (and I only have one) - but I'm also pretty aware when I'm being unreasonable/excessive in my need for control (admitting that out loud is another matter). I've let A LOT go in terms of "outward presentation".
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Re: Is there any reasonable way I can help my wife with her stress levels [Tridiot] [ In reply to ]
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I think you should sit her down when the kids are asleep or you have a babysitter and tell her your concerns. Tell her you love her and you want to help her. Tell her she doesn't seem happy with the way things are right now and that you want to help find a way to make her happier. Don't say "You're not happy. You're stressed". Instead say "You seem to be unhappy and stressed and I want to help". Then, let her talk. Encourage her to speak to someone, but that doesn't work for every person. If you talk to her with real concern, then I would be surprised if you couldn't find solutions to make things better.
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Re: Is there any reasonable way I can help my wife with her stress levels [Tridiot] [ In reply to ]
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I am not married but some of what you pointed out about your wife made me think of myself. I was a perfectionist and had EVERYTHING lined up in life. Being this way worked for me but not others and I would lash out on others if their actions and words were not kept. Not remembering what triggered me chill, I do remember I slowly let shit go away. I started to leave to do ironing in a pile for another day, dishes in the sink, books on the floors, I walked away from people without a care and found myself much happier. People have told me they do not understand why I am so aloof about things and I explain to them how I do not want to stress over stupid things and continue to live a good life.
Being stressed caused a great deal of pain and sickness that I never want to see again. Fortunately I recognized this on my own and like others have posted, perhaps you should find a comfortable time with your wife and explain your feelings and what you notice along with a suggestion of seeing an outside person to talk to.
Good luck.


_____________________________________
DISH is how we do it.
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Re: Is there any reasonable way I can help my wife with her stress levels [DawnT] [ In reply to ]
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Thanks all for the input.

We talked a good bit about this yesterday (and a lot of emails, for better or worse). I guess I'm naive, but I was hoping through her fairly routine "womens" groups she would have a decent audience to talk. But I know she's extremely hesitant to bring up a lot of this. She's not extremely happy that I have shared some basic info with the pastor at our church (no specifics, just that we're struggling and I'm worried about her). She says there's very little about her stress level that's about keeping up appearances, but I think she's not being honest.


She also reveres her mom. And while she admits she knows that a lot of her perceptions about her mom are not accurate, or result from her comparing herself to her mom (when my wife was a teenager to now) to our life now will make things impossible to achieve. Much easier to have a "perfect" house when you have two teenagers, or no kids at home, with two kids under 3 years. She knows this, but can't adjust...

I'll continue to see if I can get her to talk to someone besides our counselor, but that's at least a good first step as she said she is going to do that.
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Re: Is there any reasonable way I can help my wife with her stress levels [Tridiot] [ In reply to ]
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Tridiot wrote:
She says there's very little about her stress level that's about keeping up appearances, but I think she's not being honest.

It's not up to you to determine where her stress is coming from. It really doesn't matter. Your job is just to be there for her and help her make adjustments so that things are easier for her. Some women can't function if the bed isn't made and the dishes aren't done. That's not me and I can't understand that thinking, but I realize some people are like that and they can't just change on a dime. Be ready to help where you can. Be ready to listen when she wants to talk. Don't offer ways to fix things as she talks because that's not what women want to hear. Often, we just want to vent. Be open to changes she suggests. She probably needs to work this out for herself, but knowing she has a supportive husband who will listen (and not try to fix everything for her) is great.
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Re: Is there any reasonable way I can help my wife with her stress levels [Tridiot] [ In reply to ]
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The counselor will most likely identify that her stress is an issue with the marriage and ask to talk to both of you separately. This is certainly not an uncommon issue with women. I think it is a little like men competing to be successful in their jobs. The home is her responsibility and she want to do a better job of it than anyone else. Unfortunately, being the best does is not always are rewarding as one might think. The counselor may help her to see that. It might be best just to let the counselor lead you in the right direction. If you try to discuss it with her beyond the counseling or discuss it with other 3rd parties, she may think she is being criticized or ridiculed. I am guessing that she is probably hyper sensitive about this sort of thing..it seems to go hand in hand with that personality trait. I say give the pro a chance to do his or her job. Best of luck to you.
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Re: Is there any reasonable way I can help my wife with her stress levels [lam] [ In reply to ]
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We'll be doing 1 individual session each a month, and one joint session. Much more than that and I won't have a bank account left...
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Re: Is there any reasonable way I can help my wife with her stress levels [DawnT] [ In reply to ]
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Very fair point Dawn, I can't determine what is really going on. But this is based on 9 years of being with her, so it's my best guess. I think she's been hiding from a lot of the stressors in her life.


I used to think I was a good listener, I now accept I am not (part of marital issues we are having, not super helpful for her stress levels). She's very early in the process of working through this, so I'd be ecstatic if she has suggestions on how to improve. She was asking for suggestions yesterday. The main thing is her allowing for there to be things that let her release her stress. Getting out of the house to exercise? Stress. Having special one on one time with either of our kids? (especially the almost 3 year old) Stress. Going to see the counselor, stress.

Last night she was able to relax a little, which was great.


Someday I hope we can actually go out on a date again. We rarely did it with just 1 kid, and no chance for months and months we'll do it with 2.
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Re: Is there any reasonable way I can help my wife with her stress levels [Tridiot] [ In reply to ]
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"She says there's very little about her stress level that's about keeping up appearances, but I think she's not being honest. "


I have 4 kids, 2 of whom are under the age of 6, work full time, and have been married 15 years, with its ups and downs. And yes, I am a perfectionist, and would love to have a house with clean surfaces, books sorted by color etc. I tell you, my husband CANNOT DO IT RIGHT (dishes, cleaning, etc), the way he sorts the laundry DRIVES ME NUTS. But I don't stress about it. The house is generally dirty and messy, but I have accepted that as part of our chaotic life. Keep trying to talk to her to figure out what is the real problem. Is she clinically depressed? Post-partum depression is VERY common, and often mistaken for "you have a baby, you are supposed to be stressed". No amount of you or her women's groups talking to her will help if she is clinically depressed. Hope you can help her, but sometimes you have to accept that you may not be able to.
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Re: Is there any reasonable way I can help my wife with her stress levels [Tridiot] [ In reply to ]
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Tridiot,

You posted this recently in another thread:

Nearly 3 years ago my wife and I had our first kid (we have a 5 month old now too). Prior to that I was pretty hard charging, doing well in my career, working a ton, got my MBA etc. I was in overdrive prior to our son being born, cranking out a ton of proposals. Son born, I take a break from killing myself at work (pre-coordinated) and basically it's almost 3 years later and I have failed about 300 times to get into a groove again.

I basically don't care about work. Nothing I do is interesting to me anymore, and I can't seem to even bother to get back to 50% of what I was doing before. I'm skating by and I think it's getting pretty clear.

Obviously a giant HTFU is the simple solution, but things haven't clicked for me. I go to work, I do what I have to do, get home and spend the next 4 or so hours with my kids and wife. Son goes to bed, wife feeds daughter and then daughter goes to bed and then basically it is time to go to bed to do it all again.


Do you think this has anything to do with her stress?

Having small children is stressful, staying home, working full-time, they all have there pluses and minuses. You have alluded to financial stress, having that as a steady state factor can make it easy for seemingly minor things to put anyone into the high stress zone. Do you think you/she is worried about your job security?
Last edited by: DirtGirl: Feb 6, 14 10:19
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Re: Is there any reasonable way I can help my wife with her stress levels [DirtGirl] [ In reply to ]
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She could be, but I have no major concerns about my job, just wish I was more into it. Her father was let go from a few jobs when she was young (great guy, good at his job, bad industries at the time) so I know that is kind of in the back of her mind.

It's a great point, and something I should ask her about with regards to her stress. I know that the cost of the sessions, plus a babysitter, was something she initially brought up. There's really no amount of showing her our bank accounts, 401k, and other assets that I can really do to make her feel comfortable it seems.

The financial stress I mentioned was really just that she (and only she) is worried about how much these sessions are going to cost. I view them as the cost necessary to save our marriage and avoid divorce. But most out of the blue expenditures stress her out even though we're in a very stable financial situation.
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Re: Is there any reasonable way I can help my wife with her stress levels [Tridiot] [ In reply to ]
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Stress can be caused by ones perception of the issue, not necessarily reality. I recently had an epiphany; my overall stress level is significantly lower these days and I realized it is because I am no longer worried about finances. The funny thing is that I have always had a good job and been very financially secure. Being a single mom at the time and putting two kids through college, I was always super vigilant about sticking to the budget. Any random thing that came along that wasn't in the "plan" would stress be out, even though I could afford it.
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Re: Is there any reasonable way I can help my wife with her stress levels [Tridiot] [ In reply to ]
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Sorry to hear about your situation. I honestly think that some women cant live without some sort of stress or conflict going on at all times of their life. Its just how they react to every little focking thing in their life that isnt exactly how they they expected it to be or can't be controlled to their satisfaction. They just can't adapt to everyday variations in life and the unexpected situations the arise. Their minds are totally chaotic 100% of the time trying to manage their personal life, work life, kids, relationships, family, whatever. Throw in one curveball and it sends them into a death spiral and you along with it. Personally I think its because they have no perspective in what's important and worrying about, and what's not. Their brains dont differentiate they just react irrationally. Good luck.
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Re: Is there any reasonable way I can help my wife with her stress levels [DirtGirl] [ In reply to ]
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DirtGirl wrote:
Tridiot,

You posted this recently in another thread:

Nearly 3 years ago my wife and I had our first kid (we have a 5 month old now too). Prior to that I was pretty hard charging, doing well in my career, working a ton, got my MBA etc. I was in overdrive prior to our son being born, cranking out a ton of proposals. Son born, I take a break from killing myself at work (pre-coordinated) and basically it's almost 3 years later and I have failed about 300 times to get into a groove again.

I basically don't care about work. Nothing I do is interesting to me anymore, and I can't seem to even bother to get back to 50% of what I was doing before. I'm skating by and I think it's getting pretty clear.

Obviously a giant HTFU is the simple solution, but things haven't clicked for me. I go to work, I do what I have to do, get home and spend the next 4 or so hours with my kids and wife. Son goes to bed, wife feeds daughter and then daughter goes to bed and then basically it is time to go to bed to do it all again.


Do you think this has anything to do with her stress?

Having small children is stressful, staying home, working full-time, they all have there pluses and minuses. You have alluded to financial stress, having that as a steady state factor can make it easy for seemingly minor things to put anyone into the high stress zone. Do you think you/she is worried about your job security?

Tridot: Is it likely she is stressed out about you? Are the issues truly marriage related at this point?
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Re: Is there any reasonable way I can help my wife with her stress levels [Tridiot] [ In reply to ]
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Tridiot wrote:
Someday I hope we can actually go out on a date again. We rarely did it with just 1 kid, and no chance for months and months we'll do it with 2.

Ding, ding, ding!!! We have a winner!!! Nothing KILLS a relationship like eliminating courting / boyfriend / girlfriend time! Make a top priority to be time to have FUN TOGETHER one night soon. Then, make it a habit.

You surely did this while courting her and IMO, this is what is missing-FUN as a couple (AKA date night). You both sound like you need to be reminded of what attracted you to each other in the first place.

Good luck and let us know your progress!

DFL > DNF > DNS
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Re: Is there any reasonable way I can help my wife with her stress levels [SallyShortyPnts] [ In reply to ]
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+1
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Re: Is there any reasonable way I can help my wife with her stress levels [SallyShortyPnts] [ In reply to ]
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What's this "courting" you speak of? ;-)

I've tried to get her to go out, but she can't bring herself to do it. When we had just our first kid she was deathly afraid that any changes to his routine would mess up his sleep schedule (nap or at night). We got out maybe 4 times, twice with a young lady across the street (nurse in training at the time) and twice with her mom. That was over the course of 2 years. With two now, we've done it just once. She gets too worked up about the kid/s not behaving, getting bad habits, forgetting how to sleep, and the (minor) cost of a babysitter.

Hopefully this happens more, but we'll see. With the 2nd just about to start solids it may get easier to get a babysitter.
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Re: Is there any reasonable way I can help my wife with her stress levels [johnnybefit] [ In reply to ]
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Our marriage situation is DEFINITELY a major stress to her. I don't know how to separate my being a major stress cause from our marriage, but I guess that's feasible. I do things that stress her out (which I view as being a bad husband) such as not being a good listener a lot, or not sharing when I'm frustrated with things. I don't think she'd say that just me as a person is a cause of stress, but I will ask. Definitely worth knowing about.

Thanks for the suggestion.
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Re: Is there any reasonable way I can help my wife with her stress levels [Tridiot] [ In reply to ]
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Tridiot wrote:
Our marriage situation is DEFINITELY a major stress to her. I don't know how to separate my being a major stress cause from our marriage, but I guess that's feasible. I do things that stress her out (which I view as being a bad husband) such as not being a good listener a lot, or not sharing when I'm frustrated with things. I don't think she'd say that just me as a person is a cause of stress, but I will ask. Definitely worth knowing about.

Thanks for the suggestion.

Good luck, you are sincere about helping her and it is certainly worth the effort.
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Re: Is there any reasonable way I can help my wife with her stress levels [DrTriKat] [ In reply to ]
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I'm going to have to read up more on post-partum. I know it can linger, and maybe that is a part of what is going on. Some of what I read made me feel like that was a "catch all' for a lot of the things going on after having a kid, but I know it can a lot more serious than that. A lot.

She's also a perfectionist, and an extreme (!!!) black/white person. To her either the house is 100% totally clean, or it is worse than a pigsty. We've definitely had discussions about how clean the house is where she's said "Well if that's not going to be clean today then lets just throw stuff everywhere and never clean again." (and yeah, she uses absolutes in discussion 99% of the time) 99 out of 100 people who would walk into our house would look at it and be amazed two kids under 3 live there.

Yesterday she seemed to have the realization that things can't be the way they were before we had our second, let alone our first. I think I did a quintuple take when she said that. What is obvious to one person isn't always obvious to another. I didn't realize she'd been operating under that worldview for nearly the past 3 years. It boggles my mind, but that is what she was evidently aiming for. I hope this is a good first step to changing.
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Re: Is there any reasonable way I can help my wife with her stress levels [Tridiot] [ In reply to ]
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Tridiot wrote:
What's this "courting" you speak of? ;-)

I've tried to get her to go out, but she can't bring herself to do it. When we had just our first kid she was deathly afraid that any changes to his routine would mess up his sleep schedule (nap or at night). We got out maybe 4 times, twice with a young lady across the street (nurse in training at the time) and twice with her mom. That was over the course of 2 years. With two now, we've done it just once. She gets too worked up about the kid/s not behaving, getting bad habits, forgetting how to sleep, and the (minor) cost of a babysitter.

Hopefully this happens more, but we'll see. With the 2nd just about to start solids it may get easier to get a babysitter.

She needs time away from the kids. I get not wanting to leave your kid with strangers, but if you aren't even comfortable leaving them with someone you know/trust, that's a problem. You NEED time away from your kids - most of all when you think you don't. My son wouldn't take a bottle of anything, so I was pretty attached to him out of necessity. Then it just became habit to always be with him. Once I started going out without him & realized that he adapted just fine and survived without me (don't laugh - I really felt like something dire would happen if I wasn't there) it got easier to do.

Maybe you can start with little hour long outings, just to get coffee with her. Minimal expense and it isn't long enough for any of the routines to get messed up. Then work up from there.
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Re: Is there any reasonable way I can help my wife with her stress levels [edbikebabe] [ In reply to ]
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Good suggestion on the quick trips. When the nearly 3yo is down for his afternoon nap we could perhaps do what you suggest.
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Re: Is there any reasonable way I can help my wife with her stress levels [Tridiot] [ In reply to ]
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Take a day off of work. Watch the kids. Give her the day off to do whatever she likes ... without having to report anything back to you. The gift of unfettered free time can be liberating.

~~ kate
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Re: Is there any reasonable way I can help my wife with her stress levels [dreaming~big] [ In reply to ]
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5 month old breastfeeds, and we don't have enough milk stored up for that. I could do at least one feeding to give her a few hours.


She's got a women's (should be "womens"!) retreat coming up in 3 weeks. 2 nights away.
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