I think that it is just in a woman’s DNA to want to be needed. We are natural caregivers and sometimes, we want nothing more than to be helpful and needed to those we love. We know that our husband is an adult who could do things for himself. But, it is nice when he leans on us. Sometimes, early in our marriage, he does this quite often. And it seems that he is enhanced by our help. But, as time goes by in your relationship, this dynamic can change. And some women worry that it’s a very bad sign.
A wife might say: “when my husband and I first got married, he depended on me to make sure his life went smoothly. I loved that role. I loved helping him, knowing that he was depending on me, and that my efforts were going to help us in the future. When we were newlyweds, my husband was in school and had to spend nearly all of his time studying. I made his meals, did all the cooking, picked up his errands, bought gifts for his family, and made sure everything in his life was carefree so that all he had to worry about was school. When our kids came along, I also did this for my kids. I was very busy because of this, but I loved it. Well, now my husband is very well established in his career and all our hard work has paid off. But now that he has accomplished what he has set out to do, he doesn’t seem to need me anymore. When I offer to do errands for him or to take care of the small details of his life, I am told that he has a secretary for that. He seems annoyed that I would even ask. And my children are now much older and they don’t seem to need me that much anymore either. I told my husband that I feel like I have been replaced. My husband told me that this was silly. He said that we both worked so hard so that we could be in the position to just enjoy life and let others take care of the menial tasks. The thing is, when it comes to my husband, I want to be able to take care of those tasks. I worry that because he does not seem to need me anymore, he will eventually decide that he doesn’t want to be married anymore. Is this silly?”
I wouldn’t say it was silly. I encourage wives to take an honest look at what might be happening in your marriage. You never want to be blindsided or to assume everything is fine when it is not. But, I also think it’s possible that you might be over reaching here.
Knowing What Husbands Really Want From Wives: I dialog with a lot of husbands. Most of them do not want a wife who reminds them of their mothers or past nannies. Many men consider it a sign of success when they can hire out tasks to make their wife’s life easier. They don’t want to view their wife as their chef or housekeeper or personal assistant. They want to view her as their wife. And I don’t think that this is a bad thing.
Knowing That You Can Be Needed In Different Ways: As kids grow and husband’s become more successful in their careers, it is normal for the dynamic to change. This doesn’t mean that they think any less of you or don’t love you. It doesn’t mean that they doubt your competence. Where kids are concerned, allowing them to do things for themselves is necessary to their growth. And husbands evolve to need their wives in other ways.
They want her to be their confidant, lover, and friend. They want to know that she supports them emotionally and is a sounding board and outlet to share things. They want a partner-in-crime, but not someone who picks up their clothing and cleans up after them. Well-adjusted adults don’t need for their spouses to act like a parent or care giver.
So I would suggest allowing your relationship to evolve, knowing that instead of needing you to make his life easier, your husband “needs” you to simply share the pleasures and challenges of life with him.
And while your children may not need you any longer to help them with their homework or drive them places, they may need someone to steer them through life choices and to just listen to them as they meet life’s challenges as young adults.
Again, I don’t think that people fully understand or appreciate how much women are hard-wired to be caregivers. And this is OK. But you can change your approach and care in different and more healthy ways. It is more healthy if your family sees you as an equal family member instead of as just their housekeeper, assistant, or cook. You’ve earned the right to relax a little and allow others to carry their own load.