After reading Diane Peters’ column “Are you an exercise widow?” (Best Health, September, 2013 http://bit.ly/1dSCU6N ), I am offering a different perspective as our society is still a long way from moving from a place of awareness. The solutions provided are examples of how people are unaware of how their actions affect all involved. The ability to be mindful requires social and emotional intelligence, or the choice to step back and reflect on how your decisions affect the people in your life and yourself. It requires the need to slow down and achieve clarity, communicate honestly and effectively, then collaborate and compromise with personal integrity.
There is sadness that men leaving their wives at home with their children in order to pursue their passion and identity is accepted and very much the norm. Most women have a degree of emotional intelligence as they choose to accept familial obligations rather than spend endless hours dedicated to unnecessary high levels of fitness. Where women lack on this front is in their decision not to communicate what they need in order to maintain health and self-worth. Although, “just trying to be healthy and regain some of their identity” (Douglas Smith) sounds like men are doing a positive thing (with an element of justification via projected guilt), it is one of the reasons women become unhealthy and lose their identity over time. They do not communicate what they need, and support their man to achieve what they want. In my practice as an Authenticity Coach, this is the number one reason for separation and divorce.
Douglas Smith’s communication suggestions are, at best, pussy footing around what a woman really wants her husband to understand. Being honest about how you are feeling and what you really need is much more authentic, and can be done with kindness and diplomacy. You need to be very clear about what you want to communicate so that there is no misinterpretation and both sides feel they are being heard and respected. The truth is that most women in this situation want their husbands to know that they are feeling taken for granted, that it isn’t fair that she is maintaining the house and family responsibilities while he is enjoying his sport, and that she also needs time to dedicate to her well-being.
It is unreasonable to suggest that a woman can just “follow his lead” (Pete Simon) by joining him on the quest to excessive fitness levels. First, this is implying that it is the woman’s problem to solve. Second, in what world are we living that supports two parents being able to spend this amount of time training while supporting the needs, socially, emotionally, physically and financially, of our children and family? And third, this feels like a typical double standard that appeases the woman, while supporting the man.
Which is what Rhonda-Marie has fed into and the reason she has justified getting up “before dawn to fit in a run before the kids get up and Rick goes to work.” How lovely that Rick can maintain his fitness, fulfill his dreams, and find his identity while she accommodates his needs and ensures he has uninterrupted time and energy to do so. Both are lacking the mindfulness that comes with clarifying their values, communicating them to each other, collaborating fairly with agreed tradeoffs, and compromising on moving forward. This is the ability to lead life from your Authentic self; to make decisions consistently in line with your values and beliefs and to move from a place of Loving Kindness.