It’s dark. The alarm goes off and you’re up and eating breakfast alone. The rest of the family is still in bed. You rush off to work while you mentally review your list of things to do. Things to do at work, things to do on the way home from work, things to do when you get back home. You feel stressed and exhausted before you even start your day at the office! You are envious of your mate and kids snuggled in bed and just getting ready to start their day.

You roll over. It’s time to shower and round up the kids. Cook breakfasts, prepare lunches. Get the older ones to the bus stop and drive the baby to pre-school. There are dishes to do, beds to make, laundry to fold, the dog to walk. The kids are all out of the house, and now you have a quiet moment to make the phone calls that need to be made. While on hold with the cable company, you make a couple of beds and pick up toys. Funny how later you can’t remember what you’ve accomplished while on the phone and doing chores! Before you have a chance to prepare your own lunch, it’s time to pick up the little one from pre-school. You imagine how nice it must be to sit at a desk, away from the demands of home, and actually have reserved time to eat lunch, not to mention using the bathroom without someone calling, “Mommy!!”

In marriages where one spouse is the primary income earner, and the other is the primary homemaker and child care provider, it is common to find a battle of “who’s more exhausted” by the end of the day. To keep the story simple, let’s say the husband leaves the home for work, and the wife is working as homemaker. Most women in the “at home” situation have previously had successful careers. They have put these careers on hold for the sake of the family. It is common for women in this situation to suffer emotionally from the loss of earning power and independence that comes from working out of the home. The men now bear the burden of sole provider. This is also a tremendous emotional burden to bear. Many sole providers are consumed with fear and worry of how they can continue to succeed at supporting their family alone, even when the fear is unfounded.

It is little wonder that a battle ground forms amidst the loving couple who so wanted to create a happy family together. When we tax ourselves with too many “to do’s” and very little personal time, it is common to seek solace with our mate. However, rather than receiving comfort from our mate in return for sharing our concerns, we often hear the list of things they did and have to do. The banter begins to win the battle of “Who is more exhausted!”

Enough of the problem! If you can relate to this scenario you are more than ready for a solution. Here are three simple steps:

1. Appreciate Self
2. Listen- Silent
3. Appreciate Mate

To appreciate yourself, you need to take our mind off your To-Do’s and focus upon what You Did. First, while multi-tasking it is difficult to even know what you’ve done! Starting and stopping several projects at once (home or office), or actually doing two things at once impairs the outcome of each of these things, and interferes with your ability to acknowledge them. No matter how successful we believe we are at multi-tasking, we perform at a much higher efficiency level when we single-task.

So, as you do a To-Do, mentally stop and appreciate yourself. Take a moment to say “Great job”, “You did it”, Well done!” Tell yourself in detail, like, “Nice job being persistent with the cable company and getting the monthly rate reduced! Woo-hoo!”

Try physically patting yourself on the back, smiling at yourself in the mirror and giving yourself a hug! You deserve it. Appreciating yourself is the first step to ending the battle of who is more exhausted. You will begin to focus on what you have accomplished and feel great, rather than feel depleted by what is left undone.

Step two involves turning toward your mate. Both husband and wife want to share their experiences, worries and joys of the day. Sit and be present with your mate. By being present, I mean have your mind, body and attention on your mate. Turn off your mental list of things to do. To listen, we must be silent. Notice how both words contain the same letters! You can’t do one without the other. Give your spouse the gift of your silent attention and listen to their story without competing. Try giving a hug at the end, rather than a list of things you have done today. You will be giving your mate a tremendous gift and will have your turn next.

The last step to ending the battle of exhaustion is to appreciate one another. Often times when we are competing for who has more to do, we don’t take the time to notice what our spouse has done to provide for the family. We are too busy focusing on ourselves and how tired we are. Make a daily practice of appreciating your spouse. This is especially easy after your silent – listening session. Listening while silent allows you to really learn how your spouse is feeling and what he or she has accomplished in the day. Wait until you go to bed together, and share with your mate how much you appreciate them. Be specific. Verbalize that you are grateful for what they have accomplished.

By appreciating yourself, listening while silent, and appreciating your spouse, you will bring about peace in your marriage. You and your spouse will be there for one another and no longer will have to feel that one did more than the other, or one deserves to be more tired than the other. You may even find you are less tired and are more energetic. Try it and see for yourself!