By Gwen Rockwood
Gather ‘round, men. I’m going to tell you one of the best things you could ever say to your wife. A sentence so powerful it’s sure to melt away any resentment she may be harboring over not-so-great things you may have said in the past. A statement so true, so endearing, so empowering, it’ll revive her belief that you are a man who truly “gets her.”
And you may as well read it now because, if you don’t, you may one day find this column taped ever-so-subtly to your bathroom mirror.
You ready? Here it is: “I DON’T KNOW HOW YOU DO IT.”
I know. It’s a little shocking, right? You figured it was going to be something along the lines of “You’re the best wife in the whole world,” or “Wow, you look smokin’ hot in those jeans.” But most moms don’t want the pressure that comes along with a title like “best wife in the world” and we’re a little suspicious that the jeans remark might be laced with ulterior motives.
There are good, solid reasons why “I don’t know how you do it” makes such an impact. I’ll outline it for you, but first you have to promise not to say it if you don’t know what the heck you’re talking about. In order for the words to carry true magic, you’ve got to walk a mile in her shoes and come to know how sore your feet are by the end of the day. You’ve got to do what she does – or at least a big part of it – so you can appreciate that motherhood is like competing in the Olympics of multi-tasking every single day.
After you do your homework and can say that magical sentence with complete sincerity, you’re ready to understand the statement’s three-pronged effect. Here’s why it works:
1. It acknowledges that, somehow, she’s pulling it off. Because there are plenty of days, whether she admits it or not, that she’s pretty sure she’s failing at just about everything and she needs someone to tell her that this is not the case. It doesn’t mean she’s pulling it off perfectly, mind you, because perfection doesn’t really exist. It just means she’s giving it all she’s got and she’s getting the most important things done, day after day.
2. It acknowledges that it’s not easy. This point is particularly important if your wife is the stay-at-home variety who is busy burping babies, taming toddlers or running carpool every day. We moms who log all or most of our hours at home can be very touchy when someone asks if we “work,” implying that the only official jobs are those that come with paid vacation days and a 401(k) plan. If someone asks if your wife works, your answer should NEVER be “No, she just stays home with the kids.” It should be something along the lines of “Yes, she puts in about 80 hours a week raising humans and running a household and I have no idea how she does it all.”
3. Finally, saying “I don’t know how you do it” acknowledges that you don’t fully understand the scope of what she does, but you do understand enough to know that you don’t always understand. Confusing? Yes. And I know it goes against your ultra-rational internal hardwiring, but trust me on this. More than anything, your wife just needs you to “get it.” That quality alone will fix almost everything else.
Now, if you’re really smart and want to maximize the benefits of these seven little words for both your wife and yourself, you could follow them up with a few other mama-pleasers, like “Wow, you look great today,” or, one of my all-time favorites, “Why don’t we get a sitter so I can take you out for dinner?” That one gets me every time.
As modern, practical women, most of us have hung up our capes and accepted the fact that there’s no such thing as Supermom. But it sure is nice to live with a man who has some sense of all we do and respects and reveres the mystery of how it all comes together. It makes us want to get up and tackle the universe with each new day.