A Man’s Guide to Understanding a Woman’s Ambition

Do sometimes feel like your husband doesn’t understand you? Have him read this…

It’s Friday 4:57pm you shutdown your computer, pack away your laptop and walk out the door to leave work. You’ve got the windows down enjoying the fresh air, you pump up the volume of your favorite podcast and get settled for an easy drive home.

You’re thinking of how you’re going to enjoy the sunshine by going for a bike ride when you get home. It’s going to be great to spin those legs and get the blood pumping after a stressful day at the office (those non stop sales calls really sap your energy).

As you walk in the door the first thing that catches your eye is the trail of toilet paper coming out of the guest bathroom. The smell of burnt toast still fills the air and the dirty laundry you tripped over this morning is still lying in a heap at the front door.

You see your wife standing in front of the kitchen sink with her back toward you. You start to say out loud your well rehearsed line “Hi honey I’m going to go for a bike….. ” when she turns around and gives you “that” look.

You know the look, the one that says “Don’t you DARE say you’re going out you JUST got home!” You slink back into yourself thinking “I guess a ride isn’t going to happen. When am I EVER going to go on that bike ride?”

The rest of the evening is spent with both parties pouting, huffing and annoyed at the kids and those fun Friday nights are now a thing of the past.

Let’s look at it from another perspective…

Rewind the clock… it’s 8:27am you’ve just got home from taking the kids to school. You were hoping to make it to the gym today (your shoulders are really hurting), but that isn’t going to happen because you’ve got to call a client at 9am.

So you jump in a lukewarm shower and throw on yesterday’s pants because you can’t find a clean pair to wear.

The phone rings and you trip over the pile of dirty laundry sitting on the floor by the front door. You miss the call from the doctor again, whom you’ve been trying to make an appointment with, and it goes to voicemail.

The client call goes on for longer than expected, another set of fires to put out, but hey you can’t complain it’s paying the bills.

Even though it’s a far cry from the ‘world changing warrior’ you thought you’d be, after a series of failed attempts and compromises you’ve resided yourself to the reality of what life has become.

You scroll through Facebook and are reminded of the friends who actually DID something with their college education. You think to yourself “if only they saw me now… ouch”.

Those days of dreaming up take-overs and multi-figure earnings are long gone. You gave up on those dreams years ago, of being able to be whatever or whoever you wanted to be.

It’s not like you’re ungrateful, you appreciate what you have. It’s just that those dreams and big plans don’t always turn out as you thought they would. You’ve learnt to let it go.

It’s 1:57pm and it’s time to rush out the door for school pick up. That dirty laundry and unpacked dishwasher will have to wait.

A quick run to the grocery store to pick up something for dinner would be a great idea, but your cranky toddler is having a melt down, so you turn the car around and go straight home.

On the drive home you get an irate phone call from the school assistant principal to say your son got in trouble again, now he has to be at school on Saturday for detention. “Great, there goes my plan for a relaxing massage this Saturday”.

It’s 2:29pm you’re unpacking the dishwasher and it goes quiet. Too quiet.

You discover your toddler has stuffed a whole roll of toilet paper down the toilet, and has tried to clean it up, only to block it and flood the floor. You grab the last roll to wipe up the water that is seeping under the door.

It’s 3:34pm and you make your way to the bus stop to meet your son as he arrives. He is in sooooooo much trouble “Just wait til Dad gets home!” You try not to lose it, but in your frustration you get into a heated argument again, it’s the same story just another day.

You think to yourself “What did I do wrong as a parent? Why is this happening? I don’t know what to do?”. Surely I should be smart enough, experienced enough, resilient enough to deal with this?

It’s 4:29pm and you realize you’ve got nothing for dinner, so you pop in some toast so the toddler can eat before she gets cranky.

You feel the shoulder tension burning up again, so you reach for the pain meds when you realize your son has slammed the front door, and is on on his way down the driveway (even though you just grounded him).

You smell burning toast, then you hear the fire alarm start shrieking as the smoke has set it off.

That persistent throb in your head has now become a full blown headache, and those shoulders are in a spasm.

After managing to unpack the dishwasher in a exhausted stupor, you hear the sound of the garage door open, and your husband walks through the door.

You’re thinking “Thank goodness! He’s come to my rescue”. I’ve only been counting the hours since 2:30pm.

You turn around to greet your husband and you hear him utter those words that cut through your heart “… I’m going OUT for…” and you just want to cry.

What happened to all that ambition and dreams of success?

Even though you may have been voted “most likely to succeed” in high school, you’re embarrassed to let those Facebook friends know how it REALLY turned out.

So you put on a brave face and pretend everything is fine, even though your gut is burning with that gnawing sense of failure.

How can this be fair?

You were sold the lie that woman could be what and who they want. You believed them when ‘they’ said your college education would ensure your career success. You just need to get out there and use that high IQ!

Alas the story took a detour….

She may still have that unrequited ambition she’s pushed back for years. How can she be a great wife and mother AND have a career without giving up something in return?

Something has gotta give!

The reality is that having unrealistically high expectations of ourselves only sets us up for disappointment.

The movies don’t portray the real truth of what anyone of us women is struggling with on a daily basis.

The truth is that if we are real with ourselves and our family, can we come to peace knowing that we are doing our best, so we don’t stress about the rest.

I’m a recovering perfectionist.

What I’ve realized is that trying to be perfect all the time is exhausting, spirit crushing, and simply debilitating.

In trying to do everything and be everything to everyone, leads to burn out of the soul.

Give yourself permission to chillax and enjoy the journey.

So what if the house is a mess, dinner is late and you never got to finish one thing on your to-do list?

After 20 years of marriage I’ve learnt that in any relationship, if we can meet in the middle and allow each other the space and support to be ourselves (without the resentment and feeling of sacrificing one’s sense of self), that would be a perfect world.

It all comes down to communicating our expectations and compromising.

Marriage is a partnership and both parties need to give as much as they take. It can’t be his or her way or the highway.

To the wives, give yourself permission to be real and appreciate that loving man God gave to you. Just remember not to expect him to read your thoughts.

And to the husband’s, the saying goes “Happy wife, Happy life!” so give her the comfort, love and attention especially when she needs it the most.

Wouldn’t you agree?

{As originally featured on The Good Man’s Project Blog}