Ladies. Young ladies. Single ladies. Listen up. If you are in a new relationship or are looking for one, this is for you. If like me, you are already long-term or married, you are too far gone.
We know that women get s*** done. Give something to a woman and she will get it done. Give something to a mother and she will get it done faster. The problem is that in the early stages of relationships, we can present ourselves as too capable, thus being unable to sustain this high level of output long term.
We live for the heady and passionate first stages of a relationship, when all those feel-good hormones like dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin are heaving. These cause us to feel surges of positive emotion which make us susceptible to acquiescing to all manner of requests that aren't met with similar enthusiasm in later years.
This is when you tend to do things you wouldn't normally do - and certainly wouldn't do in five years' time. We agree to repeated off-the-grid holidays, or we agree that it's an excellent suggestion to commit to a weekly Thursday night dinner with his parents and all of the in-laws including the mad aunties.
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You need to know about the Secret 15 Percent. Women can operate at an extremely high level and when we are in a new relationship we want to present ourselves in the very best way, alas often overplaying our hand early. When requests are made which may require inordinate amounts of work, we handle them in our usual capable manner and soon we find ourselves operating every day at 100 per cent.
There is nothing in reserve, so we must operate at an even higher level when the pressure is on. I'm not kidding. Dr Libby has even written a book, Rushing Woman's Syndrome, about the health impacts of a never-ending to-do list, among other things.
Typically, we begin a relationship unfettered by children. If and when you do have kids, you will wish someone had told you about the Secret 15 Percent. All of a sudden, your productivity has to increase but you don't have any more time, hands or help.
In New Zealand, the home help industry is in its infancy. I doubt it will ever take off to the extent it has overseas. My American friends, used to outsourcing tasks like housekeeping, groceries, childcare, and food preparation, cannot believe that I do so much myself. Many of us grew up with parents who worked, ran the house, drove us to activities, cleaned the loos and managed to whip up a roast with pudding to follow. If you don't "do it all", you are perceived as being stuck up or lazy.
You simply must hold back 15 per cent of your productivity. Don't make yourself too capable from the outset. It's impressive but what's impressive about becoming a sexier version of his equally capable mother? By holding 15 per cent back, when you are juggling a career, a toddler with attachment issues and you get thrown dinner for six which yesterday was drinks for one, you have that reserve to keep you in the game.
I remember an episode of Desperate Housewives where Lynette Scavo, art imitating a trend in parts of American society, started taking her son's Ritalin in an attempt to maintain her Super Mum-dom. Whilst extreme, I can see where she was coming from. She just needed a little extra in the tank to get her through.
If only someone had told her about the Secret 15 Percent.