8.16.2013

The Role of Your Spouse in Self Care [a guest post by Lisa Grace Byrne]

Last year, our Moms in Faith group at church worked through Designed for Wellness, a program created by Lisa Grace Byrne. It was full of great information, suggestions, and inspiration, as I'm sure Lisa's new book will be, as well. I'm honored to welcome Lisa to my blog today. The following is an edited excerpt from her newly released book, Replenish: Experience Radiant Calm and True Vitality in Your Everyday Life.
My husband, Mike, is many things to me. He’s my soul-level best friend, my deepest lover, and my comrade in this grand parenting journey. There’s simply no one in the world that makes me laugh like he does. He offers me wisdom and perspective. No one sees me like he does, no one believes in me like he does, no one stands up and fights for me to become the best and brightest version of myself like he does. And yet, what I’ve found is things start to fall apart when I expect Mike to be my only source of authentic connection. For a while, my lack of close, supportive, female relationships (and his lack of close, supportive male relationships) felt suffocating as we began to expect from each other more than we could ever give. 

Your spouse can be an integral part of your inner circle, but he cannot be all things for you. In fact, it’s only when I began to circle myself and fill the core essential of Authentic Connections with other women and mothers in my life that my marriage relationship could truly blossom and grow into what it is today.

When I allow others to be a part of my inner circle, I’m replenished in my needs for core connection and I come to our marriage feeling full and alive. I can offer more of myself to him in the ways that he only gets to have. He feels the freedom of loving a woman who’s not excessively needy or depleted and our relationship thrives.

My husband and I were only three months married when we became pregnant with our first child. Still reeling in the bliss of being newlyweds, that excitement and energy quickly flowed into the dreams of starting a new family. We were still “babies” at this marriage thing when we become parents. I never thought much about the toll children take on a marriage.

I believe at the core of a true marital love is deep generosity. The decision to love this other person in our thoughts, words, and actions even when the feelings aren’t there. Even when you’re tired and selfish. When you’re busy and overwhelmed. When you have your own ideas of where you want your life to head. At all these hundreds of moments every day you’re given the opportunity to show up and see your spouse as his own person who’s also growing and evolving.

I’m in awe of my husband, of who he is and who he’s becoming. And when I lose that awe, I lose the magic, every time. But now, with children, I’ve never felt so needy. So stretched beyond my capacity. So exhausted from giving and giving. So aware of my own limitations and pride. So tapped out.

And it’s at this point I find myself most challenged in staying generous, compassionate, and loving toward my husband. I want to become a child myself again and scream I NEED ... I WANT ... ME ME ME. When the hoses have run dry for so long, I’ve shifted from sacrifice into self neglect and I feel hostile toward my spouse having any needs of his own. Generosity is the farthest thing from the natural leaning of my heart.

This makes me think about the big horn sheep. Big horn sheep live on the slopes of steep mountains. They traverse these mountains on razor thin paths etched all around the mountainsides. They also cannot walk backward, only forward. So what happens when two sheep are walking along the same path in opposite directions and bump face first into each other? If they fought, one would surely die as he would have to be thrown from the path. They cannot walk backward and the path is far too thin for both to be on at once. The only option is for one to lie down. The other, then can cross on top, leaving both unscathed, safe, and ready to continue on their way.

When I feel that tightness rise up in me and I want to lash out and demand that my needs be cared for in my marriage, I’m often reminded of the big horn sheep. If I give myself time to settle down and be honest, I can calm the raging storm inside that says I have to demand and fight for my own way and force my needs to be taken care of. I can gain some perspective and realize that demanding from him what isn’t reasonable for him to give me will only result in both of us being tossed off the mountain. Sometimes the act of caring for myself and reaching out for authentic connections that feed and replenish my soul is a way of loving my husband and honoring our marriage.



Lisa Grace Byrne is a mother to three and founder of WellGroundedLife.com, an exceptional online community where she equips busy moms to live vibrant lives. She is also a speaker, coach and teacher with a degree from Cal Poly State University in Biochemistry with an emphasis in Nutrition and Metabolism. She holds a Masters in Public Health from Boston University and is a Certified Holistic Health Counselor through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and Columbia University.


Lisa's debut book is now available! Order your copy of Replenish: Experience Radiant Calm and True Vitality in Your Everyday Life before August 25th and you'll be eligible for f.r.e.e. enrollment in her bonus class, 7 Days to Calm. Get your copy & details here.


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