Dear Jeanne,

I feel lost – just lost inside my own life. How did it ever get this unexciting? I work, I cook, I clean, I do laundry, I sometimes even have to take out the garbage and cut the lawn because of my husband’s work projects (he works from home – couldn’t he manage his time to help me some?). In even saying this, I feel like I’m having a “pity party”, but that party is real to me and I want and need a change. Any tips for me?

Lost In My Own Life

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Dear Lost,

First I want you to know that you are not alone – not alone at all. In fact, many women experience what you are stating and live the “quiet life of desperation” until something causes them to snap and they explode, leave, or reach out to make a change.

As our careers advance, the “distribution of labor” can become disproportionate within couples, leading to a feeling of being overwhelmed. It is really important to find ways to create some balance to things – which will only occur with a real exchange of conversation with your spouse.

Too often, the failure to have these crucial conversations creates a new reality that then becomes the accepted norm through a concept called tacit consent. Tacit consent is something that occurs when the agreement is implied. When not expressed as otherwise or challenged or disagreed with, there is an inferred agreement. This occurs in relationships where conversations between the partners do not regularly occur.

From what you speak of, a crucial conversation needs to occur. In saying this, I would caution you not to “dump” on your spouse, as he might feel blind-sided. Instead, I would let him know that you want to set up a time away from others (including children) to talk through some things with him.

Before you enter the conversation, revisit the ideal vision that you hold for your relationship. Starting with why is so very important, first for yourself and then stated at the start of the conversation that you have with him. Communicating this ideal vision is important, as it reminds you both of the quality of relationship and level of happiness and harmony that you are seeking to achieve.

When you do have the conversation, keeping the tone without blame is super-important. Saying “you don’t ever” might be the natural thing to say, but it won’t spark the openness in him that will support finding a solution. Instead, “I have been feeling” – keeping your feelings personal to you – is a better-spoken perspective.

And – let him talk about how he is feeling too. Ask him questions about how he is feeling about work, any added responsibilities, things at home, etc. Let him fully express himself and his feelings and concerns.

Finally, make the conversation an opportunity to get reacquainted and to deepen your relationship’s intimacy. When partners feel heard, acknowledged, and understood, there is a higher level of relationship intimacy that results.

I encourage you to develop some daily practices that feed you as an individual. You are an individual who needs some time for yourself, as does your husband need that for himself. Some reading time, working out, or even a daily walk outside can invigorate you.

Setting aside special times each week to come together as a couple is the last, important thing that I would like to mention. Couple-time reignites the original spark and excitement that you experienced together. That carries forward into your day-to-day life, especially when you experience it regularly.

Should you struggle with any of this or need additional inputs, please reach out.

Much love,