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Who Do You Wake Up For?

Many people treat complete strangers more politely than they do their own family members. It’s likely the result of taking those you are closest to for granted, but isn’t it sad that those you love most get the “casual” side of you- you know, the side that shows stress, impatience, annoyance, and frustration- while everyone else gets the “company” version? What happened to putting your family first?

happy marriage happy family

A common complaint of married couples is having to deal with the anger or frustrations that a spouse feels for someone else. Instead of getting to be intimate and happy with your spouse, you unload your stress on each other, and you basically treat each other like garbage receptacles for all negativity you feel. This isn’t the best way to be a good wife or husband. You don’t handle things at the source, and instead come home and lay it all on your family, when your family should come first and get the best you have to offer. You may have even fallen into the habit of being snippy with your family even when nothing else is wrong.

Who do you wake up for? Why do you wake up in the morning? I’m betting it’s not for your boss, your cousin, or your son’s demanding class mom. So why put them before your family? Why give them the majority of your time, your effort, or even your heart? Why aren’t you putting your family first, when your family is most important to you? Where you spend your time, energy and money is where your heart is, so every time you stay late at work, or tell your child or spouse no to say yes to someone else, or help someone out financially or otherwise at the expense of your family, you are diluting the love in your home and in your heart and putting your family last on your list of priorities.

Do You Let Other People and Things Come Before Your Family?

It’s incredibly easy to fall into the trap of upsetting your husband because a friend keeps asking for favors, or disrespecting your family to accommodate an imposing relative, or wanting to be liked by the other class moms so overextending yourself so you have nothing left for yourself and your loved ones when you get home tired and grouchy. There are so many time and energy sucks in the world, and only one you, with only 24 hours in your day.

How do you turn this around? It seems difficult, but it actually isn’t once you start to take some steps, starting with:

1. Create boundaries around your family’s time, and protect it. When people impose on your family time, tell them no, and do not feel guilty. The only thing you should feel bad about is neglecting your family. These other people don’t feel bad imposing on your or your family, so you shouldn’t hesitate to tell those people no. Obviously there are times when you will help others such as a friend in great need or a client having an emergency, but if this becomes the norm, it’s time to enforce those boundaries and put family first, where they belong.

2. Treat your family better than you treat those outside your home that you admire and greatly respect. You act happy and polite and on your best behavior when you see your boss, your priest, etc. You should be even happier and more polite and sweeter with your spouse and children. Be happy when you greet them good morning. Be excited to see your children after school. Make your family feel that their presence brings you joy, and let them know how important they are to you.

Be Happy To See Your Family

3. If you wouldn’t say it in front of someone you respect, don’t say it in front of your family. Don’t use cruder language, tacky behavior, or dump on your family and expect them to take it. Don’t take your family for granted like this. If you wouldn’t complain and whine to a prospective employer, your family shouldn’t be the receptacle for all your garbage either. Obviously there will be times when you feel bad and need to share this, and this is fine. Your family loves you and is there for you. But the daily pessimism, criticism, whininess, nagging, etc? Your family deserves better than to be dragged down like this. They are more special than the most important people outside your home, so elevate them with your speech and attitude daily, and cultivate a positive personality. Let those down times you face (when someone passes away or you lose a job, for example) that change your demeanor be the exception, and not the rule of your personality.

4. Go above and beyond for your family. Do thoughtful things for them. If you know your husband has a favorite meal, make it once in a while, for no reason at all. If your children love movies, rent one and make it a family night. Don’t wait for good behavior to reward them- do nice things for them because you love them too and have a sincere desire to be a good wife and mother. Make your home welcoming and warm for your loved ones. Keep it neat, do not shout in your home, and encourage everyone to enjoy their hobbies while at home (don’t get on your son’s case for playing video games, when it’s better that he be home and happy and playing video games, then out and about who knows where, doing who knows what, with who knows who). Make your home a sanctuary of peace and happiness and acceptance for your loved ones.

5. Don’t let others push in. If you have a friend who always calls during dinner time to chat, cut her off. If your mother-in-law causes tension between yourself and your husband, see her less. If anyone in your family has a friend that influences them in a way that causes problems in your family, that friend goes. You put each other first, and anyone outside the family that acts as an interloper, is divisive, or in general causes problems for anyone else in your home, be a united front and drop them. It’s surprising to me how many men or women will continue a friendship with someone who is nasty to their spouse, because they are “nice to them“…if they are rotten to your kids or husband, and sweet as sugar to you, get rid of them. Respect each other as a family and show each other than your put each other first, even when you have to make big sacrifices.

How To Be a Good Wife

Think about who makes your life worth living, and prioritize them. When you need someone, it’s your husband and children who will be there for you, so be a good wife and mom to them. You are number one to them only. Your boss has his own family, your parents have each other and other children, and your friends have their own families. You are number one to only a handful of people, and this is a big deal- you are NUMBER ONE to them, and they should be to you too.

  • Shana Putnam

    I love this. Our pastor talks about the same thing a lot. It is very true that people tend to unload to their family and not treat them with respect but we should all strive to not do this because they are the ones that truly matter.

  • carol y

    I was just going to say the same thing as Shana-I love this.
    Thanks so much for writng this. It is full of wisdom and common sense and I want to save it because it is wonderful to remember and do.
    Love your blog for articles like this. Keep them coming-we all need them!

  • Nichol

    I am loving your posts about family, love, marriage! Truly amazing. I completely agree with you here, and it’s sad but again this is what my brother does. Treats his family like crap and loves everyone around him, friends, co-workers, sports buddies etc. I’m about to give him your blog address to give him some tips!

  • Wise words Penelope. Thank you. I too am really enjoying these posts!

  • Also, a beautiful photo of you and your men.

  • I love this. Often in relationships, the unity gets lost, replaced by only interest in the self, and everyone suffers. Thanks for this lovely and eloquent reminder that we are stronger when turning to each other, rather than on each other.

  • Penelope

    Your pastor is a smart man. Our priest is very inspired and speaks about marriage as well- I love when a respected man speaks man to man to other husbands…men and women should both cherish each other.

  • Penelope

    Thank you Carol, that makes me so happy to hear 🙂

  • Penelope

    Nichol, you are so cute 🙂 He may be turned off by the butterflies, but hopefully something gets through to him. When life happens, it will be his wife and children who are there, not his coworkers and sports buddies.

  • Penelope

    Thank you, Fiona.

  • RIGHT ON Penelope! I want to PROTECT our TIME. It is sacred and I do not like it when I feel pressured to allow others to intrude on my family.

    This is a wonderful post.

  • Heather @ Girl Gone Mom

    Lovely post – your son is getting so big!

  • Joey @ Big Teeth & Clouds

    I love this list! My husband and I read about the “royal we” a long time ago. The idea is that the husband and wife are the most important. We’re the king and queen – if something doesn’t help us in our relationship, it’s out. We have very tight boundaries and it does make us happy. It doesn’t always make the in-laws and demanding friends happy, but over time they’ve learned to demand less.

  • Charity Gresko

    I just want to tell you that I’m very new to blogging and absolutely loved you’re web site.

  • Mellisa

    This is very sweet. Make you think about the important things in life.

  • Just finished reading a book about boundaries and need to create an action plan!

  • nhery

    Thank you for this wonderful blog. Very good read. I am guilty for some that you mentioned here. I will go start changing my attitude for the better. FAMILY FIRST.

  • It is so true that in modern hectic lives our families are not treated as well as they should be.

  • I love this post Penelope!

  • That’s good advice. I think that for some people, after being married for quite some time, they take for granted what is before them.

  • EXACTLY!!!!!! My husband and I (from day one) have been VERY careful not to establish solo friendships with people of the opposite sex. We have couple-friends, or girlfriends (for me), or buddies (for him), but we don’t ever let ourselves get into a friendship with someone of the opposite sex who is NOT friends with our spouse too. It’s too easy to go down a slippery slope and we don’t ever intend on making that journey.