This is Question 2 from my book Your Biz Your Way: Q2 Why do I feel I must do it all myself? Why can’t I accept help from my husband?
A lot of my female (and male) clients share this particular brand of bonkersness and, in some households, you can’t accept help from your other half because it simply isn’t available or they are unable or unsympathetic, or both.
Equally, many of us feel the pull to be independent, even within a marriage or a partnership. We want to earn money and pay our way.
And how interesting this question comes from a woman who I know to be a giver. Interesting, but perhaps not a surprise.
The world tends to fall into two camps, the givers and the takers. Not exclusively, but ish.
And we givers are not very good at taking, or asking for support which might be freely given were we to make our need known. ‘Cos sometimes you have to do that, make your need known and ask, especially if it all looks great from the outside or you have a history of self-reliance.
Balance, of course, is being equally able to give and receive in any relationship or environment. It’s all a bit broken if it’s loppy (lop-sided).
There’s a very real joy in achieving something all by yourself. I know this very well. And we feel proud and happy when we do. But nothing is taken away from us when we do things in partnership either. Au contraire. It may provide your husband with a wonderful means by which he can show his love and support if he’s one of those who cannot use words to demonstrate that. Or even if he can, he may want to do this as well.
Lots of my clients have supportive other halves. And a few have the other sort, and I know which one I’d prefer. But even when they do have supportive types, they wish they didn’t need to lean on them. They crave independence.
A couple of thoughts, then… with the intention of being useful always:
1. A supportive partner is a safety net. And sometimes that means you either don’t take risks or are less likely to, or you don’t want to if you feel you are playing fast and loose with his support as opposed to just with your own resources. Or maybe you feel you must take into account his advice with his support and that would cramp your artistic style in some way, or involve a compromise you are unwilling to make?
2. But that safety net could also be a fantastic asset. It could enable you to fly without looking down. It could enable you to do all sorts of aerial acrobatics, walk between two tall buildings on a tightrope, do stunts. With his support, you could scale greater heights. You could be greater than the sum of your parts. You could love and be loved. This is a two-way street, remember? It is what you both promised you’d do for each other. For all I know you’ve already supported him in ways that have enabled his success, and from which he can now return the favour. You probably downplay them, or have forgotten, or didn’t even notice you were doing that because it is just your nature. And what if him supporting you was just his?
Take it from a woman who’s done it all (or mostly) by herself all her life, it isn’t better. Or worse. It’s just different. And harder. Much, much harder.
In fact, recently I realised when playing and teaching Rich Dad’s Cashflow 101 game, which is something I’ve done hundreds of times, that it simply isn’t possible to make it work in the mathematics of our modern world by yourself. The two of you are a team and together you succeed, not separately.
A dear old friend fondly remembered, a man, once saw me struggling to open a bottle of wine by myself. We shared a great friendship, and he offered to help me by doing it for me. I said “No, it’s OK, I can do it” and he said “I know you can do it. Let me help”. He was looking for a space in my life, for me to be less independent, he wanted to demonstrate his care for me by doing something I could do quite capably myself but he could do better and more easily and, above all, lovingly. He wanted to help. He wanted to support. Yin and Yang, remember, Judith? Make room for the poor chap. Nudge over a tad. Make room for help.
As with everything, seek the balance. Sometimes we go it alone. Sometimes we are grateful for support. Sometimes we do it as a team.
Have you had a discussion with your husband about this? I’d love to hear it from his perspective. Does he need or want you to do it all by yourself? How would he feel if you did?
Are you putting unrealistic expectations upon yourself? Why?
Start to examine your own bonkersness and, in time, all this stuff falls away.
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