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The idea seems logical enough — relationships are better when you're willing to compromise and sacrifice, right? Well, maybe not. In fact, all that selflessness may be sabotaging your marriage more than you think. That may be especially true for busy stay-at-home moms. In fact, a 2012 Gallup poll showed that 28 percent of non-working moms reported feeling depressed when asked about their feelings from the day before.
Fighting feelings of sadness, anger and depression can be tough while tackling the daily responsibilities of motherhood and marriage. But try taking a cue from your friendly flight attendant — before worrying about other people, secure your own "oxygen mask" first. Confused? There are a number of ways to do this in everyday life.
Focus on your opinions
Do you find yourself saying, "whatever you want" more often than not? A healthy relationship is comprised of two people with varied opinions and tastes. If you're accustomed to burying your own preferences on behalf of your spouse or kids, try honing in on what you really want — even if it's just in regard to a restaurant or movie selection. Burying your own preferences can stifle your sense of self — and that won't make anyone happy.
Learn to say "no"
If your marriage doesn't involve the word "no," you may be setting yourself (and your relationship) up for failure. Sure, compromise and sacrifice are necessary in helping a relationship thrive, but when you're taking on more than your share of household and extracurricular responsibilities — especially those that you don't enjoy — you're bound to develop some bitter feelings. And no one wants a bitter mama around.
Simplify your life
Remember those perfect, homemade rolls you saw on Pinterest this week? Well, your kids' future success and prosperity likely isn't dependent on whether or not you make them. Stop pressuring yourself to be the perfect mom and simplify your responsibilities so you can be happy too. If store-bought bread gives you the time to exercise, practice a hobby or have lunch with friends, ditch the kneading and focus on yourneeds.
Make time for exercise
Between taking the kids to school and preparing dinner for the family, you may think you have no time to break a sweat. But when it comes to the benefits of working out, you can't afford not do. In fact, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, people who get regular, vigorous exercise were 25 percent less likely to develop depression or anxiety over the next five years. Many gyms offer free or low-cost childcare, so there's no reason not to get your sweat on.
If you ever feel like the roles of "wife" and "mother" have completely defined you, maybe it's time to give yourself a new title. How about "master baker," "amateur writer" or "aspiring pilates instructor?" Learning a new skill — even if you don't plan on making a career out of it — can help you see yourself in a new (and exciting) light.
Get your sleep
You may feel like you can't go to sleep until the dinner dishes are put away and the kids' homework is done, but a tired mom is a crabby mom — and that's no good for your kids or your marriage. Make sure you're getting an adequate amount of sleep each night. If that means doling out responsibilities to your kids and husband, so be it; when you're happier, the whole family is happier.
Demand some romance
Busy moms know better than anyone: family life doesn't always give you much time for romance. But putting yourself first in your marriage means keeping that spark alive — regardless of homework, PTO meetings and school lunches. Make a weekly date night with your spouse a priority; this will give you a chance to focus on your relationship as a couple, not as your kids' mom and dad.
_Free To Choose Network knows that taking time to develop your talents and rejeuvenate your soul can mean a happier marriage, family and society. Learn more at FreeToChooseNetwork.org
Kristen has a journalism degree and has experience writing in a variety of fields, including art and culture, health and fitness and financial and real estate services. Kristen has written for USA Today, SFGate and the Knot.