"We have a responsibility to set out to discover what we are made for, to discover our life’s work, to discover what we are called to do. And after we discover that, we should set out to do it with all the strength and all of the power that we can muster."
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Let's read that again: We have a responsibility to set out to discover what we are made for, to discover our life's work, to discover what we are called to do. Do you agree? How important is it for you to find your reason for being? To learn that ONE thing that you are being called to do?
The closer we are to who we're meant to be, the happier we are. The further away from that ideal that we become, the more depressed we are. So, what are you doing to live your dream?
After all, the last part of Dr. King's quote says: And after we discover that, we should set out to do it with all the strength and all of the power that we can muster.
If you're anything like me, those words excite you. They motivate you to action. Because as men, that's what we do. We see a thing that needs to be conquered, and we set out to do just that. It's in our DNA. So much so that we tend to forget that others feel the same way, that we aren't the only dreamers in our marriage.
Now, imagine that I'm not talking about you, that I'm talking about your wife? Does that change things? Was Dr. King ALSO talking about your wife? I think that he was. He wasn't only referring to us men. He was referring to all of us; you, me, your wife, and mine.
As men, we tend to forget about the hopes and dreams that our wives have. Sure, maybe you make more money, and you have kids, so it makes sense that she stays home and you work. That doesn't mean that she doesn't hope for more. That doesn't mean that she doesn't love you or the kids, it just means that she loves herself a little less.
“That doesn't mean that she doesn't love you or the kids, it just means that she loves herself a little less.”
It all goes back to what I said earlier, the further away we are to who we're meant to be, the more depressed we become. That's why it's important that you encourage your wife to spread her wings, because that's what better husbands do.
According to psychology professor Edward Higgins, in his self-discrepancy theory, there are three parts of "self"; actual, ideal, and ought.
Your actual self is who you think you are. It's how you assess who you are, your talents, your intelligence and your looks. This is who you actually are.
Your ideal self is the idealized version of yourself. It's who you wished you were, it represents who you want to be or could become.
An ought self is what you or others think you should be. It's determined through a sense of duty. It's less ideal but usually more than actual.
It's the discrepancy between your wife's actual self and her ideal/ought self that is causing her emotional discomfort (eg, fear, depression, stress, and restlessness). As her husband, work to encourage your wife to follow her dreams. Again, that's not to say that she doesn't love being your wife, or being the mother of your children. She just needs to love herself a little more. Maybe she can't do or be her ideal self because of her family obligations but she can work to be closer to her ought self with a little ideal thrown in.
An example would be that your wife, before meeting you and falling madly in love with you, was an artist. She enjoyed painting so much that a big part of her daily life was spent creating. She would spend hours every morning with her paints and a canvas, she never felt so alive.
Even in the beginning of your marriage she enjoyed painting and you enjoyed seeing how happy it made her. Then, kids happened. She loves her children and loves being a mom but she no longer has the time to create. Her wife/mom duties limits her free time, her actual self becoming a less creative version of her ideal self, the discrepancy between the two causing her to become depressed.
Here are a few ways that you could encourage your wife to spread her creative wings
Convert part of the garage into a paint studio so that your wife can have a place that hers that she can create her masterpieces in.
If you have younger kids, higher a babysitter for a few hours each day (or however often that makes sense) so that your wife can spend time creating.
8 years ago when your wife got pregnant she dropped out of art school, now that the kids are in school themselves encourage her to go back.
The above are just examples and may not relate to you specific set of circumstances, but you get the idea. Encourage your wife to fly and watch your marriage soar.
Never Devalue the Role You Play In Your Wife's Happiness
Back to Professor Higgins and his self-discrepancy theory, there are two main standpoints of the self. The first is your own, which is your personal standpoint. The second is the other, which is the standpoint of another significant person. Significant others can be parents, siblings, spouses, and friends. The other standpoint is what the self perceives the standpoint of a significant other to be.
As a husband, your treatment of your wife has a direct impact on her self-esteem. She is a beautiful, influential, independent person, and the further she gets away from that ideal, the lower her self-esteem becomes. And low self-esteem contributes to depression.
You can make the argument that she should be more self-motivated, but the fact of the matter is that you have much more input into the state of your wife's well-being than you imagine. And know, I'm not just referring to her physical well-being, but her emotional one.
Committed Husbands encourage their wives to spread their wings, take flight, and soar. They are never worried about her using those wings to fly away because they are confident in their relationship and the strength of their bond.