Is tiredness affecting your relationship? If so, find out what you can do to fix it.
Chronic tiredness has become a way of life for many women. Not only does it take a personal toll, but it can easily come between a previously loving husband and wife, transforming a strong team into bitter rivals.
I’m speaking from experience here.
This last week or two have been a little rough on our home life.
After six weeks of summer break, where our days were filled with a leisurely cup or two of coffee in bed before getting up, going for a run, working in the garden, and then relaxing in front of the television, we’ve been back to nine and a half hours physically at work and then another couple of hours at home doing marking, prep and all those other work-related tasks.
Add in the commute and it’s no wonder we’re feeling it.
That level of tiredness comes with negative effects.
You’re so tired you lack the energy to keep up with the housework.
You’re so tired you forget things you shouldn’t.
You’re so tired you snap at every comment, and because he’s tired too, he snaps right back.
It’s not a fun place to be, and yet I bet it’s a place we’ve all visited more than once: whether it’s been caused by work like us, or by children, caring for relatives, or any one of the many possible scenarios.
Tiredness makes it very hard to see each other as members of the same team. Rather it pitches you as bitter adversaries, where wars can be started over things as trivial as buying nectarines that aren’t fully ripe.
If all this is sounding a little too familiar and you’re wondering if you’re letting tiredness affect your relationship, here are the signs that point to YES.
Signs tiredness is affecting your relationship
Tiredness is having an impact when instead of focusing on yourself and what you’re doing, you start to focus on your partner and what (you think) they’re not doing.
My tiredness has the effect of making me hypercritical. I watch everything with an eagle eye and if it displeases me, I’m not afraid to say so.
Therefore a shift of attention from my feelings to his actions is a clear warning sign that tiredness is winning.
Your spouse makes an innocent comment about the laundry pile being rather large and you fire back with a litany of other tasks that you have on your plate, followed by ruminating on said laundry for about fifteen minutes and then a silent withdrawal.
Such an overreaction to a comment is a sign you’re taking things too personally. You’ve moved past being able to see the task as something separate to yourself and are instead making it part of your identity – again, caused by being over-tired.
One small thing goes wrong – maybe you’re late leaving for work – and suddenly EVERYTHING in your life is terrible.
You overspent on groceries so clearly you will never be able to manage a budget, your blog traffic is down, so your business is going to fail, and the fact he wasn’t listening during your entire rendition of this pack of woes means your marriage is doomed.
When you’re tired, everything looks bad and it’s easy to make a catastrophe from one event.
Research has demonstrated that tiredness removes our ability to feel empathy for others (source).
When your spouse looks tired and overwhelmed, instead of thinking about how you can support them, you think instead that if they were only able to manage themselves better, they wouldn’t find themselves in this position.
If they tell you about an issue at work, you privately think that they must have done something to deserve it.
This lack of empathy for the person you love so much is another sign exhaustion is ruining your relationship.
Finally, forgetting is another sign of the tired and overwhelmed brain. Whether you can’t remember where you put your keys or you forgot to make that urgent appointment, forgetting can also lead to negative effects in your relationship.
This is because the chances of your forgetfulness having a negative impact on your partner are high.
After all, if they are listening to you screeching about not being able to find your keys, they are unlikely to be calm and compassionate for long.
So let’s say from reading this, you feel pretty convinced that tiredness is sitting behind much of the negative behaviors that are being expressed in your marriage. What exactly can you do about it?
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How to stop tiredness affecting your relationship
Balance the schedules during a relationship meeting
The first strategy is a preventative one.
During your weekly relationship meeting, take the time to look at the schedule for the next few weeks ahead.
Look for hot spots: times when one of you might have late meetings or events you have to attend.
Try to balance the schedules so that one of you is at home every night and is able to keep to their regular sleep schedule, as well as work to keep the house running smoothly.
Minimize and systematize
The second strategy is also a preventative one and ties into the first.
When you have identified factors that are likely to increase your tiredness, think of how you can minimize your life to better cope.
For example, food. Rather than commit to cooking elaborate meals, go as basic as you can while still trying to eat healthily. For example, buying a store-bought cooked chicken, salad and fresh bread makes for a healthy meal that takes no time to prepare.
The second example is with cleaning. What are the bare-bones tasks that need to be done in order to make you feel in control of your home? Stick to these only until you get through the rough patch.
In addition to minimizing, also work to systematize. Create daily routines of basic home tasks. Fill up the gas tank on the same day each week. Create automatic payments for your bills. Use systems as much as you can so that you can reduce mental energy expenditure.
Set a bedtime alarm
Once you’re actually in the tiredness zone, it’s time for the next strategy.
Now, I’ve observed that when we are not just tired, but overtired, we tend to get a second wind late at night. This is especially if we’ve been working hard until late. Once we’re done, it’s super hard to call it quits on the day and go to bed without doing a single thing for yourself.
The next thing you know, it’s half an hour past your ideal bedtime because you’ve been watching some show on Prime video that should have been put to death years ago.
But if it’s time to go to bed, then go to bed you must, and for that I suggest setting a bedtime alarm, which gives you 30 minutes or so to take off your makeup, get into bed and read until you can fall asleep.
Be honest about where your feelings are coming from
It’s counter-intuitive, but the more we recognize that our feelings are irrational, the more likely we are to say that they are anything but.
If you suspect that tiredness is causing you to exhibit the behaviors that I talk about above, try and find the words to say so.
Your overtired actions do hurt, but communicating where you’re coming from can help to make sure you continue to work together.
Ask yourself what it is you need… and then ask your husband for it
When tiredness is influencing your actions, then sit with yourself for a minute and ask yourself exactly what it is that you need.
Do you need your husband to sit with you and hold you?
Or do you need him to help you out by cleaning up the kitchen while you go have a bath?
What would make you feel better in this moment?
When you’ve worked it out – ask for it. Having your needs met will make you feel instantly better.
Remove yourself from the situation
If none of the above are working, then it may be time to simply remove yourself from the situation. There is nothing you are going to gain by continuing to let tiredness dictate your behavior.
Tell your husband that you’re sorry, that you love him, and that the best thing you can do for yourself is to put yourself to bed.
All of us, even in the most happy of marriages, have faced times when tiredness has exerted an unwanted influence on our relationship.
If you or your partner are starting to blame, over-react, catastrophize, lack empathy or forget, then follow the strategies listed above, so that you’re no longer letting tiredness affect your relationship.
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