By Joyce Oglesby

Q: “My family is a mess. My husband is unkind, my children disrespect me, and none of them appreciate what I do for them to make life work day in and day out. I am simply going through the motions, and I’m exhausted. How can I undo what is happening? If this year is anything like last year, I want out!”

Joyce: Unfortunately, many women feel your pain. What is it about women that causes us to accept behavior such as you’ve described? Love. We love; therefore, we hurt. And because we love, we can allow it to drive us into the ground.

Secondly, we sacrifice. Women do that best. Motherhood in and of itself is a tremendous sacrifice. However, is it reason enough to allow someone we love to hurt us? I would emphatically tell you NO!

When we love, we are bound to get hurt. Let’s not muddle the puddle here. Pain comes with love. But excessive, repetitive or abusive pain is absolutely not a way to love, nor to receive it. So, here’s a plan to change the tapestry of your upcoming year.

  1. Love yourself. Often, we expect others to love us, yet we exemplify no signs of caring for ourselves. I’m not suggesting you’re incapable of loving unless you love yourself, because I know many people who do. The message it conveys is you are willing to become the dumping ground for the family’s frustrations. Humans were created to be connected to people, to have relationships, to bond, to love. Growing in loving relationships builds our propensity for forgiveness and acceptance. Part of that growth includes ourselves. It is not selfish to love yourself. Your world will become more stable, your future brighter, and life more meaningful. Try it on for size. I believe you’ll like how it fits.
  2. Expect respect. Most people find themselves disrespected because they don’t demand esteem from others, especially the ones they love most. Sadly, family is typically where we get the least respect. Draw your lines of how your children will regard you, how your husband will speak to you, and how you will respond to both. The response element is critical. This might look different for you than me. You know the circumstances surrounding your family, and responding differently to situations will get your loved ones’ attention.
  3. Tone. The tenor in a home is often set by mom. It might surprise your husband to hear, “That was an unkind thing to say to me. Let’s talk about a way to tell me what you need me to know without hurting my heart.” Then, sit and discuss how these remarks make you feel.
  4. Actions. It’s amazing how fast a family will appreciate wife/mom when she goes on strike. Suddenly, they’re getting frozen dinners out of the freezer and preparing meals themselves. The laundry is left for each one to attend to his/her own. Kids figure out a different means of transportation for practice or getting to the movie to meet up with friends. Drastic? Perhaps. But none of what I have suggested is life-threatening. It is, however, life-changing. You will be setting the pace for how your children will treat their spouses. You will also be sending a message to your husband that when life gets better, love gets richer.
  5. Notion to motion. You likely have had great intentions of snagging your family’s attention through your ostensible misery. But clearly, the only way you will convey the same message is through different means. You’re hoping they will see how desperate you are for them to love and respect you. But until you actually set your notion into motion, your family will continue to assume you’re happy with how things are running. So, set a definitive start date for you to decide your value is greater than they recognize.

Families never intend to get off track in the ways we express our love and appreciation, but we do. This year will only improve if you decide to stay in love by getting out of the ways it’s being expressed.

Struggling with a relationship issue? Write Joyce Oglesby or listen to The Just Ask Joyce Show M-F from 3-5pm on WFIA 94.7fm/900am. It’s where real life and family values connect!