This is actually a common issue for mothers of children with special needs. Even though moms may be home full-time to provide all the caregiving, it can soon become evident that the responsibilities are immense. Partners don’t always realize this, and it can be difficult to make them understand regardless. What if I told you that your efforts are better spent on bartering for what you need, by using your partner’s values as currency?
To play the devil’s advocate, until you walk a mile in someone’s shoes, you cannot fully grasp what the other person is feeling and experiencing. As a matter of fact, even if you did walk a mile in their shoes, (even 1000 miles), chances are you will experience things differently because you are a separate individual with your own past history, and your own life experiences, but most of all, with your own set of values.
Values are things we judge as being the most important to us. They are usually ingrained and uncompromisable. Although partners are likely to share a basic common value system, we all have our own hierarchy of priorities, as well as our very own personal values. These can be in the form of a favourite pastime, hobby, job, sport, social activities, or even time alone. Our values guide our relationships, determine our financial priorities, and control how we spend our time. They are a big deal, and knowing your partner’s top 3 values can be very helpful.
If you have already taken the time to communicate assertively with your partner but still feel a lack of insight on their part, then try stating clearly what you need in exchange for your partner to get, (but more so usually keep), something they truly value. Stick to the facts, remove all emotion, and propose a solution based on values.
Here are some examples:
“I’ve been lacking restful sleep this month. I know you love your early hockey games on Tuesday and Friday mornings before work, and I would hate to have to ask you to skip them, but if I can’t get all my evenings off and rest properly, I might need you to take over some mornings to do drop-off. But if you can manage to take Sally to her gymnastics classes on Monday and Thursday evenings from now on, it won’t be a problem. I will get to rest and you can continue to play hockey. Does this sound feasible? ”
“I am trying to problem-solve around how we can simplify our schedule so you can continue doing your office paperwork on Saturday mornings. I was thinking…I need to be the main person overseeing all the educational and therapeutic stuff because I am at home, but if you could be the main person in charge of the medical appointments, that would free up a lot of my time to do the other home tasks and chores, and I could then take Johnny out on Saturday mornings so you can do your paperwork uninterrupted. “
“I know you want to save a certain amount of money this year, and I am trying to figure out how we can budget so we can try that new private treatment only offered in the USA. I would be content to spend our Spring Break skiing locally for a few days, instead of our usual all-inclusive holiday. I think giving Steve all possible opportunities to progress, and saving money is more important.”
I hope this helps all you dedicated mommas out there by giving you another strategy to try when you are frustrated. I truly believe that everyone is doing their best when it comes to raising a child with special needs, including partners. But don’t forget… there’s a reason why we say men are from Mars and women are from Venus.
Use values as currency and see if it gets you closer to what you need. Sometimes, we also need to work on how we are coming across in our non-verbal body language. In my equine-assisted self-help therapy, I do some work with values, and also communication, by using the feedback provided by the horses. I would love to help…