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Women are told they can have it all. Anything less is failure.
So your wife has it all. But "having it all" means she gives all of herself to other people, other pursuits and other's needs. And while she's being everything for everyone else, she feels like nothing. She's breaking inside, because even though your wife truly thinks she can do it all, she can't without you.
She needs someone to wipe her tears the way she wipes her son's away. She needs someone to bear her extra load the way she bears her friends'. She needs someone who will hold her together the same way she holds the people she loves together. All in all, she needs her husband.
It's hard to know how to help your wife when her pleas are silent and her anguish is concealed, so here is a list of what you can do to reset your wife when she is falling to pieces:
1. Help her NOW
First and foremost, don't hesitate. If you think your wife is on the brink of falling apart, don't wait for her to drown before you pull her up for air. Obviously, it would be easier if she asked for help, but being noticed is part of her needs as of now. She wants to know you value her enough to see her invisible pain.
2. Recognize what she does
Your wife accomplishes much without recognition. Invisibly, she resolves tragedies in your children's lives, remembers to take the garbage out on trash day, cleans toothpaste spots off the mirror, cries with a broken-hearted friend and so much more, yet her actions never earn her appreciation. She doesn't need a party to celebrate her accomplishments, but she does need validation for her efforts to feel valuable. Simply saying, "I appreciate that you encourage the kids to practice the piano every day," can make a world of difference.
3. Take on her responsibilities
More so than recognition, your wife needs you to take tasks from her to-do list and place them on yours. If you don't know what those things are, ask her. Doing her responsibilities is the greatest support you can give your wife when she feels overwhelmed with life's never-ending priorities.
4. Let her be alone
If your wife is a mom, she is never alone. If she's lucky enough to lock herself in the bathroom without a little one sneaking in, she still hears little hands knocking on the door, demanding attention. Your wife needs alone time to truly heal. Create a space and time where she can be at ease. For example, give her an escape to Island Spa and Sauna, where she can spend a day in a world of relaxation and rejuvenation for only 29 dollars.
The best feeling in the world is having someone's arms around your body. Magically, touch has the power to offer both physical and emotional support at the same time.
6. Give her time to rejuvenate
Your wife's body feels stress as much as her mind. When she's overwhelmed, having time to reset her body is crucial. Make sure she has time to be still, detox and care for her physical needs. For example, have her get a Shiatsu massage to restore energy flow, a deep tissue massage to clear muscle tissue of tension from carrying kids and internalizing stress or a Korean body scrub that will leave her feeling renewed and refreshed.
7. Don't fix everything
As a loving husband, you want to put your wife back together when she's breaking in pieces. However, overtly creating solutions for her problems is detrimental. When you steamroll ahead with solutions, you belittle her issues. Essentially, you are saying, "these problems aren't a big deal; they're easily solved." Furthermore, you make her feel powerless, as though she isn't the author of her own escape. Instead of trying to save your wife, offer her the support she needs to save herself.
8. Listen to her
Your wife might feel that her challenges sound small when said out loud. For example, maybe she feels silly griping about chores when her friend is dealing with a death in the family. However, it doesn't matter how humble the things plaguing your wife may seem. Don't let her believe her trials aren't worthy enough to be spoken about, because holding her pain inside will prevent healing. Let her know that her trials are valid by listening and responding with empathy.
9. Love her
Above all, flood your wife with unconditional love. She needs the most love and support during the moments when she is hardest to love.