Do you wonder how each week seems to end the same? A massive amount of activity with work, chores, gym, errands, repairs, games, church, civic meetings, sports, lessons, house and yard work, wash, cooking, shopping, volunteering, parties, appointments and more. You and your spouse using the Divide and Conquer method to try and control the chaos. All this in hopes of sneaking in a “date” wedged somewhere between paying bills and taking the kids to the doctor for the 5th ear infection this year.
Breathe – You’re normal and living in a typical American home. The activities may be slightly different but the overwhelm is the same. Feeling stretched and stressed to the max and at the tipping point if one more thing gets thrown in the mix. And to add to the stress, sustaining this chaos is costing you financially everything you make plus. Juggling the finances to make everything work and not get into credit card trouble can put even the best marriage at odds.
If you’re living this life but it doesn’t feel overwhelming to you, you’ve been living like this for too long. Can’t remember a time when you had 30 minutes to yourself to think, day-dream or actually plan. When was the last time you and your spouse actually spent a weekend together, away from home with no other obligations than just enjoying one another? YIKES – That rings true for us!
EFFECTS ON OTHERS
Living in the Overwhelm will catch up to you in your relationships, health, finances and emotions. There’s scientific proof that living in a high level of stress – even if it’s doing good things like driving the kids you love from piano to soccer and then home to complete homework before bed will take a toll. For a thorough list of effects on your body, mood and behavior click here http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-symptoms/art-20050987 but to summarize (chest pain, headache, anxiety, trouble sleeping, depression, drug or alcohol abuse, angry outbursts…..) these are all signs of stress and living an overwhelmed life.
OK, so what the answer, just give up everything? Leave my family and team members in the dirt? Probably not the best approach and certainly not the most productive. You may not be able to change everything by next week but by making priorities as a couple you will change things in the long-run to benefit you, your spouse and your kids!
- Review. Sit down with the iPad or the old fashioned Big Chief if that’s what you can find and review the current situation. Is there some specific issue that’s causing your lives to be out of balance? Perhaps a child has special needs, or job demands that are out of control. Sometimes just recognizing the issue can help you get clarity on how to deal with it in a different way. Or it may be that all of life is a circus. In that case, put some circles on your Big Chief and start filling them. (Home, Work, Marriage, Kids, etc.)
- Reevaluate. Now that you have a moment to literally “look” at what’s going on in your lives, figure out the why. Why are we in this situation? Is this in our control or out of our control? If out of your control then move on to step #4. If in your control, get really focused on what are the most important priorities for you both.
- • Where do you spend most of your money?
• Where do you spend most of your time?
• What causes you the most stress? Is it a “thing” you can get rid of or delegate? In other words, where are you spending the most time and money – because that’s what you’re saying is most important. Wherever you spend your money is where your heart is and if that’s a place of stress and uncertainty then that Thing – where your heart is is creating more stress. If you’re spending most of your time and money to make more money, please make sure you truly believe this is where you want to plant your flag of attention. If you’re spending all your time and money on your kids – may want to rethink that one. Mike has said hundreds of times to people sitting on his counseling sofa, “If you and your spouse are good, your kids will be fine. They are going to see that their parents love and respect each other and have each other’s backs when it comes to family values and discipline”. They may scream and cry at the suggestion of only piano or soccer – not both but again, they will survive. We live in a wonderful country where there’s so much opportunity. Let them share in the opportunity but not at the expense of your marriage.
- Recommit to each other. Did I mention that you must have each other’s best interest at heart. Don’t commit to revising the plan and then be the first one to cave when the kids come crying to you. Recommit to each other, daily, that you’ll work toward living a life out of the stress and overwhelm that you’ve been experiencing. Check in with each other often to see how you can help each other stay on track.
If this is a situation out of your control, recommit to love and support each other through the crisis and hopefully it won’t last forever.
- Communicate with family, co-workers and friends your reevaluation and commitment to living a less stressful life. They may kick and scream just like the kids but they will get over it. They might even ask you how you did it. Share with them! This will help reinforce your commitment and also help hold you accountable to someone outside your immediate circle.