Caroline Rules: Strong Marriage
Our New Advice Column with Caroline Manzo!
Caroline Manzo definitely puts the real in The Real Housewives of New Jersey. Fans everywhere relate to the reality star's no-nonsense attitude, focus on family and, above all, abundant common sense. Always the voice of reason, Caroline is approached by thousands of women, men and children who seek out her wise advice on everyday matters — and we at Glo now count ourselves among them.
Glo has asked Caroline to help solve your most pressing dilemmas by weighing potential options and ruling on the route she thinks is best.
The Dilemma: A common theme that surfaces among Caroline's fans is the challenge of the overextended family. We are particularly interested in women who fall into this category as financially strapped, stay-at-home moms with young children and husbands working long hours — even multiple jobs. They are usually grateful for their spouse's dedication to supporting the family and yet frustrated by the fact that they have very little quality time with them. How should such a woman keep the love alive in her marriage, support her husband and yet maintain her sanity all at the same time? Should she wait it out? Help her husband by working part-time? Or, should she focus on finding quality time to spend as a couple?
Caroline's Ruling: Oh my gosh, do I know about this subject! For those of you who are facing similar struggles today, you need to know one thing: It's temporary!
Albert and I had all three of our children within the first five years of our marriage. His company was on the cusp of becoming a recognized name in the industry with a reputation for excellence, and it was critical for Albert to dedicate most of his time and energy to building the business. This was something I understood and accepted from the very beginning of our relationship.
Before we had the kids we always made time for each other, even if it meant going to a diner for eggs at three o'clock in the morning! Naturally, things changed once we became parents. At the ripe old age of 28, I found myself spending the bulk of my days and nights alone with three children. (Albie, my oldest, was only three!) I'm not going to sugarcoat it — there were times when I just sat and cried out of sheer frustration, exhaustion and even boredom. I was used to working and having freedom to come and go as I pleased.
How quickly things changed! And although it was challenging, I never once blamed or resented Albert for the hours he worked. After all, he was building a future for us. My kids are now 24, 22 and 21 — it seems like only yesterday that I was 28 with three little ones.
Here are a few suggestions to help you navigate your way through those times:
1. Don't resent — appreciate! Appreciate the fact that he (or she) is working to support the family. In turn, your partner should appreciate you for your understanding and sacrifice.
2. Find other moms in the same situation as you. (Trust me, they're out there!) Not only does it benefit the kids to interact with other children, but it also allows you time for adult conversation, friendship and maybe an understanding shoulder to cry on when you need it.
3. Know that quality time comes in all shapes and sizes. It could be an unexpected phone call to say "hi, love you," a back rub after a long day, a cup of coffee in the morning, a hug in the middle of the night or a full-on night on the town. Whatever it is, take it and enjoy the moment!
4. Make time for you. If you have a good babysitter, or a family member you can lean on, don't be shy about taking some time for yourself away from the kids, house and chaos. You deserve it! Do what makes you happy — we all need a little "me" time.
One final thought: Marriage and parenting are tricky business. There is no definitive answer to any questions or situations that may arise. One thing I know for sure, though, is that attitude is everything. Count your blessings, and remember, one of these days you're going to blink your eyes and your "babies" will be all grown up and on their own. Trust me, this I know from experience.
Caroline Manzo tackles relationship dilemmas.Photo by Michael T. Greco