Stay At Home Mom Wants More Help from Husband – Ask the Dad Parenting and Relationship Advice Column
Summary: You can’t hint, whine or beg for what you want from your husband – you need to give it to him straight.
My common-law husband of 7 years and I share a 3.5 year old daughter. Until recently, we owned our own business. It was ruining our relationship. We decided to close it, have him go back to work and I would stay home full-time. Since March of this year, this is how things have been. While it’s great staying home taking care of my girl and our house I am beginning to feel taken advantage of. My hubby works different shifts each day, sometimes its 7-4 or 9-5 or 10-6 or 12-9, you get the idea.
He won’t get up with her in the morning! Ever! Is this fair? My job starts at 7am when she wakes me up and doesn’t end until 9pm when she is sleeping, (she goes to bed at 7pm but needs everything under the sun until she falls asleep at 9pm or so). He seems to have no problem letting me get up every morning, take care of her, our home, our two pets, all the responsibility surrounding the closure of our business, or bankruptcy (unfortunately) all the laundry including putting it back in his drawers, then the supper time routine and the bedtime routine, the latter being my most least favorite task. It’s making me hate him. It doesn’t seem to matter how much I tell him this. If I ask him for help he will do it, but if I don’t, he’ll let me do everything! Is this typical of men? Am i overreacting or am I married to a total selfish asshole?
Yesterday I asked him to put our daughter Violet to bed, he came upstairs and said “why, what is it that you need to do?”. “I don’t mind doing it, but what do you have to do right now?”. I had to come up with something that I needed to do, if I told him it was just so I could breathe, he would have done it anyway but grudgingly.
This is making me resent him so much that I feel like I am beginning to hate him.
He has always sort of been selfish like this, but now that I am home full-time it’s just brutal.
I read your article on 5050 in relationship and I do agree with most of what you said, but you also sound like a considerate man with a reasonable head on your shoulders.
I guess my question is this. Am I being selfish? He is working all day after all, but so am i!
Courtney (age 30, Ottawa, Ontario)
No, you’re not being selfish at all and yes, men are kind of like this.
He’s not going to set boundaries for himself or for you, so you’ll need to do it. Men tend to just sprawl out if you don’t establish clear boundaries. They will occupy more and more space, time and resources unless someone stops them. It’s our nature. But it works fine with other men because other guys will set boundaries really quick. It’s how we deal with each other. We tend to keep moving in one direction until another guy says “what the fuck?”, and then we stop.
You need personal time or you will grow resentful as you’ve noticed. I’m sure he gets plenty of downtime. You need some. You don’t have to quantify it or justify it as it’s absolutely necessary for a human being to maintain their sanity.
Here’s my suggestions:
1. You need to tell him exactly how you feel. Use lots of “I” statements.
“I feel overworked and stressed out” “I need alone time everyday or I will lose my mind”
2. After you’ve established what you need then offer concrete plans to meet your needs.
“So we need to trade-off bedtime routines, I’ll take Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and you take Tuesday,Thursdays and Sundays.We don’t need Saturdays because we’re going to go out and have a date night just the two of us and the babysitter will put her to bed.”
3. If he hems and haws then you ask him what his solution is.
But you can’t back down. You have to be clear that getting your needs met is non-negotiable, only the methods are.
Men respond well to clear direction and strong non-emotional negotiation. It’s how we deal with each. We don’t wish, beg, whine or hint at what we want. We say it clearly and then do it. He’ll probably appreciate a clear goal oriented approach.
My partner is like this with me. She’s very clear on what she needs, then we work out a solution. I’m the same way.
The Straight Dope Dad
Wow, what fantastic advice. Thank you. I just finished taking notes from this email and added all my “i needs” I have already asked him to sit down and have a talk with me tonight. I’m going to try the non-emotional approach and this time I won’t back down. Thank you. It’s nice hearing a male perspective. Your blog is super by the way, I think I read everything on it today. Great stuff!
Good luck and please tell me how it goes. Theoretically your plan should work.
The Straight Dope Dad
It went great!………………….until I started getting emotional. Man you were right! Non-emotional negotiation is totally what men respond to.
In the end, I told him my needs and he agreed. He is going to do bedtime 3 nights a week and mornings 3 days a week and the same for myself. Saturdays are date night with the babysitter, I have already booked her for regular Saturday nights at 7pm from here on out, just to ensure we stick to it. I also made it clear that my needs are non-negotiable but that the methods are. I thought he would freak when I said that but he was completely agreeable! I also asked him to take our daughter out by himself for a few hours one day a week just to allow me to have some peace and quiet so I can read a book at home. He said “Sure”! I was totally not expecting this, normally he is a bit of a dick, it must have been my approach this time around.
Boy am I ever glad that I wrote you. Thank you for your help!
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File Under: Ask the Dad Parenting and Relationship Advice Column – Relationships and Parenting Tips – How to Get Your Husband to Help Out More