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failed wife

Hello everybody, welcome to episode 138 of Optimal Living Advice, the podcast where we take any questions you might have about the many struggles of life and get them answered for you here on the show. I’m your host, certified life coach Greg Audino and today we’ll be talking about what to do when it seems like nothing is going right. What happens when everything is just falling apart, we can’t perform our usual duties, and the frustration is taking a toll on both us and our partner? We’ve got a listener who’s feeling exactly that as a failed wife, so we’re gonna see what we can do to help her out. Here’s the question for today…

QUESTION: “What can I do when nothing is going right? I feel as if no matter what I am trying to do seems to fail or have an issue. It's not just with one thing but with everything. At the end of it, I feel like a failure. And then that makes me feel worse. I can tell that this feeling is rubbing off on my husband as well and off late this happy-go-lucky guy is also showing faint signs of depression. I cannot have that! He's my stone, my rock, and if he breaks I will definitely break.

It's not like I haven't asked him, coaxed him, tried to cajole him to talk, but he just seems quite recluse. I know he doesn't want me to worry but how can I help that if he's been there for me ALWAYS? Why can't I do the right thing for him, why am I unable to reach out to him and help him? I feel like an absolute failed wife!!”


Listen to Greg narrate this post in Episode 138 of the podcast Optimal Living Advice.


Failed Wife? Your Heart and Effort are in The Right Place

Ok. Good question, good question. Needless to say, what you have going for you right now, what you’re unequivocally doing right, is that that your effort and heart are in the right place.

And before I get into the meat of my answer, I want to remind you that there are plenty of other things you’re doing right, as well. I’m quite sure that there is a lot going right in your life, some things in which you have to put extra effort like you are now, and other things in which you probably have to put very little effort.

So first, I encourage you to pay respect to yourself for all of the things you do right that you’re just choosing not to focus on right now.

Your Level of Expectations

As for everything else, the things you’re doing wrong that have caused you to ask this question, what I find myself wondering about is how high your expectations are. How high are your expectations both for yourself and for the importance of the tasks you’re wishing you were accomplishing more easily?

I have a feeling you’re both demanding too much of yourself as well giving too much credit to all these things you’re “failing” at. I have a feeling you’re expecting yourself to be absolutely perfect and that you’re confusing all of these pursuits for being much more important than they are. Very little in life is legitimately important enough to stress out over if you’re not doing well at it.

However, that doesn’t stop us from getting stressed anyway.

With that in mind, see this as an opportunity to reassess your values and take another glance at how much these things you’re wishing you were doing better even align with them. Does it really matter if you mess up dinner? Maybe a little if you burn the house down, but other than that, no.

Does it really matter if you forget to give your child a bath one night? No. Does it really matter if the chair you’re trying to build ends up falling apart because you forgot one screw? No. Yet these are exactly the types of shortcomings that add up for most people and make them feel the way that you are.

Too Much Weight to Carry

And not only do these things not actually matter in the sense that they don’t truly interfere with one’s ability to live by values worth living by, but with the exception of the house burning down, these things are all extraordinarily easy to rebound from.

You go and buy takeout if the home cooked meal is a bust. You bathe your child tomorrow instead. You buy a chair from Amazon and line Jeff Bezos’ pockets a little more.

These assignments, and presumably many of the assignments you wished you were performing better, have nothing to do with your value as a person, and you can easily fix them and allow your life to go on.

On that note, if you feel you’re not doing right by your marriage, I could definitely see that falling into the category of a value worth stressing over a bit more. That’s more weighted, and more worthy of your efforts to better yourself than however many chairs you’ve failed to construct.

The question still remains, however, what expectations are you putting on yourself? You need not be some kind of superhero capable of fixing any and all problems for anybody, not even your spouse. That’s simply too much weight to carry, and while it’s very well intentioned, it gets individuals and couples into trouble sometimes.

Redefine What Your Presence Means

I encourage you to redefine what it means to be there for your husband. Break free from any pressure-inducing traditions that make you feel you can realistically solve all of his problems – it’s a very slippery slope to go down.

Right now, you’re concerned for him, sympathetic, reaching out to me for guidance, and all around trying your best. Is that not enough?

These are great efforts you’re putting forth, and the best way to streamline them if you haven’t done so already, is to directly ask him what he needs you to do for him specifically; what role you can play specifically; what stuff you can take off his plate specifically.

It’s probably much less than you’ve made it out to be in your mind, and you’re likely the only one who expects you to play the superhero role.

Good Communication Skills

You’re a good communicator. Stick by that and trust in it. And if he remains reclusive or unwilling to open up, you’ve done your job by letting him know you’re there. Perhaps you could go out of your way to do things for him that you know he liked but wouldn’t want or think to ask for.

As his wife, you know his idiosyncrasies and can play to them. But you’re already doing so much, and it’s starting to cause burnout.

Burnout and Stress as a Perceived Failed Wife

It’s this burnout, this over-exertion, that stands to stress you both out further and continue to make you feel like a failed wife (which you aren’t). It’s easy to feel that way when you’re referring to your husband as your rock – a rock that will cause you to break if he breaks.

This may sound romantic, but ideally, you want less attachment than that. You can love your husband the same and still have less attachment. At the end of the day, we all want to get to a place where our happiness and self-sufficiency don’t depend on any thing or person, even a spouse.

Conclusion: Feeling Like A Failed Wife

As long as you continue to see him as the only thing keeping you together, you’ll never feel you’re doing enough for him. I’ll say that again: As long as you continue to see him as the only thing keeping you together, you’ll never feel you’re doing enough for him.

Believing in the value and potential of your individuality as well as the value and potential of your husband’s individuality will only make your relationship stronger, I promise.

To the woman who sent this in, I thank you. I thank you not only for contributing to the show, but for caring, being compassionate and being so devoted to making your marriage work. You’re truly a model for us all to follow, and we appreciate you. And I can only imagine your husband does too!

Now for everyone else out there, go ahead and send in any questions you may have that you’d like answered on the show. You can email them to advice AT oldpodcast DOT com

And we’re going to wrap up. Thanks for being here guys, thanks for listening to the end, and I’ll see you again soon for our next episode in which we’ll talk about spirituality. No easy task. Until then, friends.

Listen to Greg narrate this post in Episode 138 of the podcast Optimal Living Advice.

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Greg Audino

Greg Audino is a Rhode Island-born certified life coach, actor, and graduate of Goucher College. He is the host of the mental health podcast Optimal Living Advice and narrates dating, marriage, and parenting content over at Optimal Relationships Daily.
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