He is never going to get it

My husband and I have had some difficult talks lately, and things between us are getting better. I think he’s really starting to see the disparities in our contributions to the family and he’s not only stepping up to do more, but he’s not bitching about it. In fact, I haven’t heard one prolonged, overly dramatic sigh in the past few weeks.

But I’m realizing that it he will never do so much that our contributions are equal, and that he’ll always have fewer responsibilities, less stress and more time to dedicate to his own personal pursuits. These disparities are written into the expectations of men and women in our society, and I just know that we will never be able to shake those deeply held, but often unrecognized beliefs. Just like there will never be an article written about the challenges of being a working father, my husband will never be our family’s default parent. He will never even understand the weight I carry as the default parent, or comprehend how torn I feel between the contrasting obligations of my job and my family. He is just never going to get it.

And I’m so envious of him for that.

It’s the little things, but they add up to something massive. He would argue that he doesn’t make certain assumptions but it’s clear that he does. Like how it’s assumed that I will be home in the evenings, probably because I pick up the kids, so I’m there before he is. He never thinks twice about leaving work late or stopping for a drink or staying out for a concert. When we both have something we want to do I’m left scrambling for coverage–and while he’ll sometimes offer to cancel his own plans so I can go out, it’s clear he feels he’s doing me a favor. I get to work later than I want to and have to leave earlier than I want to, and when I need to take time on the weekends to catch up, it ends up feeling like some favor he’s doing me. It feels like his time is his, first and foremost, and my time is mine only after everyone’s needs have been met.

It is there, in the fact that he’s never taken the kids to a doctor’s appointment without me, or held them when they’ve gotten a shot, or taken them for a hair cut, or attended a parent conference. I am the one who has to figure out how to make those things happen, even though I work during the hours they usually have to take place.

Yesterday, to take my daughter to vision therapy (there were no appointments available this past Saturday and next Saturday so I had to make one on a Tuesday) I had to ask for multiple favors at work to orchestrate an insane patchwork of coverage so that I could get part of one period covered, all of another period covered and someone to dial me into a Google HangOut so I can “attend” the staff meeting at home after the therapy appointment. Sure, my husband says he can “help” with these kinds of appointments if I “give him enough time to move things around,” but that never seems to be the case when one of the kids actually needs to be somewhere. It always ends up falling on me.

He has so much more time and space to dedicate to his own interests, while I struggle just to manage the tasks that are absolutely necessary. I try to put aside time for the things that are important to me, but at the end of the day I just don’t have the time, energy or space to dedicate to them.

If I’m going to be away from home I need to prepare things before I leave and manage the fallout when I return. I wonder the whole time if things are going well and what kind of mood my husband will be in when I get back. He never announces that he’s just taking the kids somewhere, to the zoo or to meet up with a friend. I’ve never been offered time alone at the house, or an afternoon to myself. He gets those things all the time, because moms meet up with their kids. But dads don’t. (At least the dad in my family doesn’t.)

It’s just hard to manage this life, and it’s even harder when I see my partner having a fundamentally easier time of it. It’s even harder when I feel like he doesn’t even recognize that he has it easier than I do, because he has so little comprehension of what it all entails. I honestly don’t think you can truly appreciate what someone is going through if you haven’t experienced it yourself. You just can’t. I couldn’t appreciate what my mother sacrificed raising us until I understood the subtle intricacies of the contrasting obligations of moms who work outside the home. Sure I had a vague sense of how much she did for us and how challenging it must have been, but I couldn’t really appreciate it until I was living it for myself.* And I believe the same is true for my husband–he just can’t understand the unfairness I perceive, and the envy and resentment I sometimes feel, when he has never been positioned in the less privileged circumstance.

The reality is my husband belongs to the most privileged demographic on this planet, and no amount of education, empathy or enlightenment can correct for that kind of distorted perception.

Growing up, I didn’t think much about gender norms or appreciate how hard women had to work in altering them. If anything, there was a part of me that believed women should accept the roles they’d been occupying since the birth of humanity–what is so bad about creating and nurturing life? Now I am frustrated that by the simple fact that girls are taught to sacrifice their own wellbeing to provide for others, while men are taught to expect their needs will be met (or at least that they will be able to meet those needs). These messages are subtle and yet so ingrained, it’s almost impossible to remain cognizant enough of them to alter one’s expectations.

I know I’m not the only woman out there who is so completely disillusioned by the realities of being a woman and mother today. I don’t know which is worse, how far we still have to go, or the fact that as a society we’re actively taking steps backwards.

And where does that leave me? Riling against a reality I cannot change? Being angry, envious and resentful isn’t the answer–it’s not my husband’s fault that we think this way–but I’m honestly not sure what is. Again, I’m left doing the hard work of figuring out what I should work to change, and determining what I need to accept. While my husband just needs to not stay out too late at an event that is personally fulfilling for him.

At least I didn’t do his dishes.

 

*I’m not trying to invalidate anyone’s experience, and I know there are so many experience that I, myself can’t appreciate for lack of living it. I also recognize my own privilege (second only to my husband’s) and realize that so many people have it so much harder than I do as a direct lack of that privilege. Right now I am only trying to comment on my marriage and what I perceive as an inability on my husband’s part to understand my experience.

45 Comments

  1. I think this often. My marriage and my husband especially when I see coworkers and friends who seem to have a more equal divide of children and household responsibilites. In my house, I work more hours at a more demanding job and still do ALL things house and children. My husband cannot do or rather refuses to do any household work or any duties that the children require (bathing, bedtime, feeding etc.). While I knew this would be the case before we had children it is a serious point of contention between us when I need a couple of hours to work at home or make a phone call in peace! I feel like I am the only one experiencing this lifestyle so it is nice to see I have some companionship out there experiencing similar things! Cheers! And one day i am sure I will look back and miss the business of it all but really I just need a break or a massage and facial (BTW I am pregnant with #3 and scared out of my mind for when baby arrives with a 4 and 2 year old plus a big baby husband who requires to be taken care of as well!)

    1. Wow! Baby #3! You are a braver woman than I. One of the main reasons I knew I couldn’t handle a third child is because I knew it would exacerbate these issues between me and my husband. But maybe that third child will be the tipping point in your family, and your husband will finally step up. I really hope that is what happens.

  2. Uh, I think it is your husband’s fault and you live in the 21st century in SF. He can step up to the plate. No never about it. Almost all the fathers I know are equal coparents, except my few colleagues with SAHM wives. I don’t know how to get there from where you are other than talking about it and letting him take on responsibilities. I cannot imagine either of us stopping someplace after work without planning in advance.

    If he is making and effort now and not complaining, it seems counterproductive to take that as evidence that nothing will ever change, which, of course it won’t if you are positive it won’t.

    1. I kinda agree here. I have issues with my DH–mainly that I am chief worrier/planner/researcher. My my DH will DO things though (as long as I arrange things and remind him, which is irritating). I think your list lets him off too easy in blaming society.

      1. Yeah. It probably does let him off too easy. But it helps me reign in my resentment and frustration when I remember that he isn’t thinking and doing things these ways in a vacuum

    2. I started responding to this, but then I realized there was a lot more I needed to say. I’m going to put up a post tomorrow that explains better why I feel like this will never change for us, and our family. Because there are a lot of mitigating circumstances pushing us towards this dynamic

      1. I get it. I feel like if I want my husband to step up, I have to keep working at it. Like my default is just to do everything and hope he’ll notice and step in. When I make a big effort to ask him to do things or speak up about how unequal it all is, things get better for a bit. But then I let down my guard and forget to tell him to do the dishes or buy milk or put our son in PJ’s, and it all starts to fall on me again. Sometimes it seems like doing it all myself is easier.

        1. “Sometimes it seems like doing it all myself is easier.” <-- This! This is totally it. I feel like I'm swimming against this swiftly moving current and it takes so much effort to make any forward movement. I'm just exhausted, and it's easier sometimes to just go with the flow instead of moving against it. You're cycle of saying something, improvement and then backsliding is at work in my house too. You described our situation to a T.

  3. Unfortunately I agree as well. There are lots of DHs, especially in the bay area, who do much better. My DH does meet up with other dads/parents and kids, he does plan outings, he does almost the daycare dropoff and pickups, comes to most doctor’s appointments, and wouldn’t dream of staying out late without giving advance notice.

    I sometimes feel awkward saying stuff like this, because I really don’t mean to make anyone feel bad. But it isn’t fair to my DH and other men to say that men generally are bad about this stuff. And I don’t think it helps anyone to reinforce the perception that men behaving this way is normal and to be expected, or that it is societal and very difficult to overcome. Lots of men do better and your DH can too.

    1. I very much agree with this. I rely on my husband and he comes through. Even my 64-year old father, and my brother, who are much more of a “traditional ” guy’s guys, took and take on a childcare and house-duty role much more equal than you have described in this post. Society has some work to do on reaching true gender equality, but I can’t say that the men I know best feel fine and expect such an unequal division of home labor.

    2. You are absolutely right that there are husband’s who do better than mine does, and I realized as I was trying to respond to some of these comments that there are other factors at play here as well. I hope you will read tomorrow’s post and offer any advice or suggestions on how I can change our dynamic after I better explain why we’ve become so entrenched in these particular roles.

  4. I agree with the comments above. Sure you could let this continue, but you could also decide that enough is enough. I have a friend from college that does EVERYTHING and her husband had to get help from his mom if she left them for more than a couple of hours. It’s not like your kids are little babies anymore AND your husband is their father. Why do you have to make sure everything is in place before you walk out the door to do something? Your husband is a capable adult, capable of figuring it out on his own.

    There are plenty of fathers who are better, including my husband. While he does travel more for work, we share pickup/dropoff, we discuss either of us coming home late because of work/going out with friends/etc. We are a TEAM. Will things ever be exactly equal in our household? No because I work from home two days a week which means that I have two extra hours those days to get errands done.

    1. He is a capable adult, but he has an attitude of “someone should do it for me” that he got from his parents and I’ve had a hard time moving him away from. And to be fair, I don’t have to do as much to get things ready before I leave, but there is always a woe-is-me, it was so hard, attitude I have to contend with when I get home, and most of the time I don’t think it’s worth the time away when I have to deal with him being poutty when I get back. His attitude has gotten better lately, but we still have a ways to go.

      1. So, two (or three) thoughts — one, you say he’s improved recently. So, when I’m trying to effect change with the spouse I do sometimes wonder what the balance is between “some of this is better” and “more is needed.” Could be it’s best not to push too hard especially if things have improved. OTOH, I get the desire (and possibly need) to do so.

        As for what you mention above, his woe-is-me attitude, can you calmly grab that and run with it when he presents it? I.e. he: “Woe is me!” You, “I know! It’s really exhausting, isn’t it! Thanks so much for [whatever he did], I really needed the break!” He: “Oh, but truly, woe is me!” You: “Gosh, I know! It’s incredible, isn’t it. After the time I’ve had with the kids this week it was good to get away — I’m just feeling so refreshed, I don’t want to lose this energy because I’ll need it tomorrow when I have to take on [woe is me!] task. So let’s talk about plans for the weekend / what color to paint the bedroom / that new movie.” I find you have to be able to do this sort of thing with a straight face and a sympathetic-yet-disinterested tone, which can be hard to pull off …

        Kind of relatedly, could you have a night when you don’t come home until the kids are in bed? Better yet, until the kids AND DH are in bed (so he can’t proceed with the “woe is me!” stuff), asleep? I do this (usually just the DS in bed) once a week and it is DIVINE. No idea what your sleep schedules are, but if you can’t stay out ’til your DH has turned in, you could stay out ’til “your bedtime,” come home and say, “I’m exhausted, I’m going to turn in,” and be done with it. Really, a night (even one a month if you can’t make it one a week) that’s all about you is … divine.

      2. and most of the time I don’t think it’s worth the time away when I have to deal with him being poutty when I get back.

        I think your husband is my husband’s twin. There is quite a bit in this post that I can relate to, and I am sorry you got a bit of a pile-on from women who are fortunate enough to have more equal partners.

        I think people who have helpful husbands don’t realize why people with unhelpful husbands don’t do something about it. The truth is that, if I am a good representative of the situation, you get sick and tired of having the same conversation and nag and ask and plead and argue, over and over and over. At some point it comes down to “Is this worth pulling the plug and dissolving the relationship?” For many women who have kids the answer is “It’s not,” so you do what you have to do to keep the household running. And as long as you are not willing to pull the plug, the lazy and disorganized or just selfish partner can keep doing what he’s doing.

        I dislike comment threads like these ones because many women who have nearly equal partners assume those who don’t are just not talking to their husbands or not asking explicitly etc., i.e., that we the wives are to blame for not having more egalitarian marriages. While there may be truth in it, most of the issue is that there are men who essentially don’t care very much about their wives aggravation (or definitely don’t care more than they do about their comfort etc) and realize that she’s not going to pull the plug, so they have a good deal going.

        This is my long-winded way of saying “Hang in there, girlfriend.”

  5. My husband is like yours so I have great deal of sympathy for you. I attribute my husband’s behavior and beliefs to growing up in an extremely traditional household: his mom was a homemaker his entire his childhood and his dad the breadwinner and nothing more than that. Although my spouse thinks of himself as progressive when it comes to gender issues, he really is not and he defaults to this childhood model most of the time in our relationship.

    Like you, I’ve accepted that my spouse will not change and that my options are to either leave him or deal with it as best I can (I’ve chosen to deal with it). My approach is to abscond from responsibility for entire household and child-rearing tasks and let him take the reigns completely. It’s been pretty successful for me. If you do this, you have to step back and be willing to let him fail over and over again. Eventually he will understand that this is his responsibility and that you’re not going to swoop in and take over when he fumbles.

    Your husband needs to start picking your kids up at least two days a week. It is completely unfair to you that you have to do it everyday. On those days, he is completely responsible for overseeing the evening activities for the kids: picking them up, getting snacks, helping with homework, making dinner, bath, bed, reading, and everything else. You get to do what you want on those nights. Maybe that means going out with friends or taking a class or staying late and catching up on work. Or, it might just mean going home hanging out with your kids and husband without the expectation of being the default parent.

    I have a lot of thoughts about this topic and would be willing to chat with you off-blog if you’d like. Good luck.

    1. My husband’s household growing up is definitely a mitigating factor here–his mom was very much a “I’ll take care of it type” and she still steps in and does things for him that he should be doing for himself. He’s been allowed to take a “wait until someone else deals with it” attitude (he was the first to admit this) and it’s hard to reprogram that kind of prolonged conditioning.

      As for my husband picking up our kids twice a week, well it’s more complicated than that. I actually wrote a whole new post for tomorrow detailing the specifics about our life that make it even more challenging to achieve equality in our division of labor. I hope, if you read tomorrow’s post, you can give me some suggestions for how to make it work.

  6. I don’t think all men are like this. My hubby and I went through alot of the unfairness you mentioned above with our first son. Alot of the struggle for us is that I wasn’t honest in saying what I needed him to do. I felt like I needed to do everything and that I was the only one capable of really taking care of my son. I will admit, I was really critical and didn’t give my hubby much space to figure out and experiment with parenting our son.
    Baby #2 came, and hubby had to step up to take care of our oldest when he was home for 3 weeks after the baby was born. It really gave him alot of confidence and I saw for real what a truly loving, caring dad he could be. I relaxed my expectations and let him do more. He started to offer and take more initiative with both kids and our relationship really improved.
    I won’t lie, we had lots of arguments and fights to get to the point we are now where neither of us keep score on who went out last, who spends more time with the kids, etc. But we just choose not to go there and compare. My husband always had encouraged me to go out with friends, but I never did because I was worried about what was going on at home. Things have gotten so much better, and my husband now almost gets annoying in that he is always pushing me to do things with friends, take time for myself, etc. LOL
    I guess the point of this is to not to stop communicating about this, even if it’s the same fight and discussion over and over.
    Also, I realized finally that the way my husband was raised played a HUGE part into his involvement as a dad. How was your hubby raised? My hubby didn’t have good examples of how to raise kids because he basically grew up in a bar with alcoholics. Once he gained some confidence in caring for his own kids (and I stopped nagging and whining about the things he was doing “wrong”), he really blossomed into a great, involved dad! It took lots of communication though and hard work on both of our parts to have realistic expectations and to ask for what we needed.

    1. I will admit that my husband is generally very good about giving me time when I ask for it. At least on the front end. When I come home I usually have to deal with a woe-is-me attitude about how hard it all is. I really don’t know how I can change that attitude, though I have mentioned that it makes me not want to ask for time when I feel like I’ll be “paying for it” afterward with his sulking.

      Also, my husband has also stepped up a lot since our second child was born. And his attitude about stepping up has also improved. So maybe we can eventually get there, it just feels like I’m swimming against a current and it’s so exhausting make forward movement. I’m also tired of being the sole force of propulsion.

      1. I just read the comment above mine about how your hubby’s mom did most everything for him. So much of how we are raised shapes us as adults! And I totally hear what you are saying about it being easier to do it yourself. I went through that too a lot with my husband. I can’t tell you when it changed exactly, but I literally had to mutter to myself constantly “at least he’s trying,” even though I knew I could do things better. It’s hard to come home and hear about how difficult their time with the kids are, it’s like, why even try to go out then at all? Maybe just telling him he can pick 1 negative thing to tell you, but the rest has to be good would help?

        We still argue about him taking the kids to the grocery store. It drives me nuts that he dreads it and tries to keep the boys home with me so he can just “run in” I get it, it sucks to take the boys in the store. I do it daily and I don’t particularly enjoy it, however since I have to do it, I feel like he should too! LOL
        I am looking forward to your post tomorrow on this!

  7. It’s so hard. I hear you totally. We are unusual in that my spouse is the default parent but the mental work you describe is still almost all mine. I asked my spouse to make me dentist and eye doc appointments in August and again about monthly and they just got made yesterday… for a day I am working, despite my spouse having a calendar that lists my random days off. The house is chaos because I have chosen to let my spouse run things and it is going very badly. I am letting my spouse fail for a bit before I offer help (unless help is requested first). I started announcing things when the kid was small and just expected my spouse would manage it – she has a doctor’s appointment on the 10th at 3:45 and you are taking her. The first time I walked away after announcing it so there would be no “but I can’t!” response, and it went well enough. She got her shots and even if some questions I thought were important didn’t get answered, it wasn’t a total failure. We do split time in the evenings and weekends, sometimes one of us taking the girls elsewhere and sometimes the other of us takes them. When we went out in the evenings before the move, I tried to make a point of offering an evening if I took one. The trouble for us is that it’s a constant negotiation of who will do what and renegotiating is exhausting after a point. In the future when we are both working again, I think we will schedule a monthly meeting to schedule things and figure out who is doing what and what needs to happen to make things work. That way we only negotiate once a month instead of every rotten day. I haven’t read it yet but maybe Equally Shared Parenting would help you both figure out a way for things to work better so you have enough time to be sane and happy and he has enough responsibilities to keep things working well.

    1. Thank you for this comment. I think you really get what I’m talking about, especially when you mention the “mental work.” I think that “mental work” is a HUGE burden and it’s one I don’t think someone else can understand if they haven’t done it. I am attempting to give some of it to my husband, but if I want it to get done, I need to do it myself. I recently asked my husband to see if Kaiser would cover part of our vision therapy costs, because I don’t know how to do it and I don’t really think they will say yes so it won’t piss me off too much if he ends up not doing it. He was thankful that I delegated that task (and yes I consider it delegating, since he knew we needed to do it and never offered to do it himself) and I am curious to see how it plays out. I almost gave him a “do this in two weeks or I will” ultimatum but in the end I just casually asked if he would do it. I hope he does. We shall see.

      1. Even if a lot of DH do “better” in terms of household responsibilities, I think the mental load usually falls to the wife. My husband freelances so our situation is different but I’m more involved and mentally “on” than most male co-workers with working wives.

      2. I get you on this post. I think the comments are helpful as well. The mental work issue is huge. The idea of being the one who plans and worries and makes sure that the things behind the scenes get done – that is so universal for women and it is such a huge issue. I also have problems delegating and then just leaving it be – I end up either nagging, doing it myself, or a combination of both, which is not productive or good for the marriage. I’ve taken to writing a list of things and leaving it on the bulletin board. And accepting that they will get done, just on his schedule, not mine.

        I agree with others though – I think you are unfairly shouldering a lot more of the burden than you should be. I think this was a really solid, well thought out and fair post (as they all are) and I’m curious to hear what thoughts have arisen from the discussion here.

  8. I am totally with you, and it feels like such an uphill battle sometimes. One thing I want to say in response to a few comments above is that I often hear the attitude that “you need to tell your husband to do his fair share” or “you need to stop letting him treat you this way”. Statements like that really put the blame back on you (the wife), like it’s only happening because you let it. Some husbands seem to naturally do their share. Some husbands need reminders. And other husbands don’t even respond to reminders/please, getting defensive or angry or just ignoring them. So… it’s not your fault. It’s frustrating, though.

    1. Thank you for writing this Deborah. I definitely get a “you’re the cause of this dynamic” vibe when I write posts like this, and that bothers me because I have been VERY proactive in trying to change it. We’ve been to therapy MANY times about this dynamic, even before we had kids and nothing ever changed. I am writing more about this tomorrow, but yes, thank you for reminding people that just because someone else has easily achieved an equal dynamic, does not mean it’s as easy for other couples. Sure I take some responsibility for enabling him, but it’s hard to know how difficult it can be to fight an uphill battle like this without damaging your marriage unless you’ve been with someone who just doesn’t respond when you ask for things.

      1. I did not intend in any way to put the blame on you. But based on what you wrote in this post and in the past (and not having read what you plan to post next) it does seem to me like he is getting off easy. Not that you are to blame or that it should be easy to fix. It just is. One more thing. It seems your husband has a lot more flexibility in his job–plus as a public employee, likely lots of leave–whereas it’s almost impossible for you to leave on short notice as a teacher. Yet you have to go thru l kinds of hoops to get coverage and he can’t bother to handle an appt that it seems would be infinitely easier for him to do.

  9. Our marriage has many issues, but I feel really really lucky that this is not one of them. In terms of actual work, I think my husband does 60% of it. Mental work (arranging appointments & childcare, remembering ANYTHING that needs remembering, including RSVP to birthday parties, gifts for birthdays, gifts for teachers for holidays, finding house cleaners, paying & negotiating with them, etc…) is almost 100% on me (though I mentioned that there is stuff he does re: home maintenance that I have no idea about). It helps that I’m the primary breadwinner in our family. We chose daycare to be close to him & he does most pick ups and drop offs (though now my son’s aftercare is closer to me, so I drop him off at school & pick him up most days, while husband drops off/picks up little guy). We always divided household chores evenly, and he picked up doing way more than half during pregnancies/nursing until I could pick up my slack again. While I MAKE the appointments, he usually goes to them, since his job is more flexible. We both try to give each other time off on weekends, and he often is more adventurous taking them out to do stuff on his own. We coordinate our evenings off—always ask the other before planning something and neither of us EVER just “goes for drinks” after work! He also is the “primary parent” for the dog (though even there, I’m the one that remembers that she needs her flea&heartworm stuff—how does he forget, its the 1st day of EVERY MONTH for the past EIGHT YEARS!)
    The cultural context of this is what is fascinating to me. Why does my husband (and others) get this while yours (and many others) don’t? My husband was mostly raised by a single mother, but she coddled him (still does!) and I know that he never cooked/cleaned or did any other “traditional female” tasks as a kid. But he figured it out (and he is actually way more OCD than I am…more likely to criticize how I do things). Is it because I am the higher earner with the “more important” career/job? Or because I never criticized or tried to micromanage how he did things (I know this is something a lot of wives/mothers are accused of doing, not sure how real it is)?
    I think its got to be a combination of the cultural context and the inherent personality to explain why some men get this and some don’t. The other side to this is that my husband often gets overwhelmed/depressed about the amount of work (housework/childcare) to be done, maybe even more than I do (I think his higher standards play in here…I am fine with half-assing things!) and I have no patience for that martyr-type attitude. When he gets like that, I’d much prefer to just do it all myself!

    1. I think it is definitely partly an inherent characteristic, and partly how they are raised. My husband was definitely raised with other people doing things for him. He concedes that he has NEVER cleaned a shower in his life! He lived with roommates for 8 YEARS! How did he get away with this? I remember when we started dating I finally, after two months, walked to Walgreens and bought ALL the materials I needed to clean his bathroom because it clearly wasn’t going to happen otherwise and I was grossed out showering in filth. So this is a dynamic that has been happening, quite literally, since we first met. We actually went to therapy about this very problem WAY before we had kids, so maybe I should have known that he would really struggle to “step up.” And maybe it was my mistake for staying with him. I wonder about that a lot.

      Another problem that we have, that you mentioned, is his attitude about it. He gets very defeatist and overwhelmed by everything there is to do, even though I do way more. That bothers me a lot. If I had that same attitude we’d be in a very depressing relationship. But I suck it up and get it done. Sure I bitch and moan sometimes, to let out a little pressure, but I’m not a fatalist about it.

      Oh, and I forgot to mention that I also do ALL house maintenance. His own father has give ME power tools before. I make all repairs, hang everything and build all furniture. So in that respect, we have avoided normal gender rules, but not in the way I want!!!

    2. I also wonder why some husbands get it and others don’t. For 18 months I was a stay at home mom and now I work part-time. My husband has a job that can be extremely demanding at times. Obviously, most of the child work will fall to me. But, there are still things that drive me crazy — never taking our son on an errand or to a friend without me, rarely doing morning duty unless I ask the night before, never packing the diaper bag, etc. He blames a lot of this on his job which is fair but I also think he could do a better job of dealing with the stress and juggling it all. I don’t know. It doesn’t help that my sister is a stay at home mom and her husband does a lot more. I can’t compare because they have really different jobs, but I think her husband feels more of a duty than mine does. And I know my family thinks my husband doesn’t do enough but they also don’t really appreciate the nature of his job. And then I get confused and resentful of everyone.

      1. I want to add that there are things my husband is great about. He does bath nearly every night and he is usually very gracious if I want to go out with friends on weekends, but not if I want to stay home and be left alone. He doesn’t give me a hard time at all when I come back from being gone. But he refused to put work aside to take care of our son, even for 20 minutes. He claims his boss and clients would be upset, but I think he just can’t bear the stress.

      2. I do think some husband just feed differently about what they should have to do. I don’t know how some get one message and others get another message, or maybe some just struggle more to manage the stress. I really don’t know. It’s baffling to me.

  10. I like the “mental work” concept raised above. My husband and I come out pretty equal on a task-by-task basis, but I still do 100% of the kid-related research, make 100% of the appointments and attend most of them solo, do 95% of the middle-of-the-night issues, 95% of the early-morning weekends, 100% of the medicine dispensing, 100% of the holy-cow-this-whatever-thing-needs-organized. It wears on me. When he gets time off, he’s doing something fun and when I get time off I’m working (which is not his fault but it sucks). Plus he needs more time away than I do, so I try to accommodate that and end up in a puddle of tears when I’m finally overwhelmed (like I did this weekend). I think couples don’t always have the same concept of what 50-50 looks like because one party does things that don’t even register as tasks with the other and conversations gets stalled by defensiveness/different needs/willingness to adapt.

    1. I feel like I could have written this comment myself (except for the part where you say you are equal task-for-task). Did you reach into my head to find the words? We are absolutely on the same page.

  11. I’ve always had a crap or expendable job, where I can call in sick or take my sick kid with me if needed. I now have a grown up job where people depend on me. My husband had to call in sick for THE FIRST TIME IN OUR 6 YEAR OLD CHILD’S LIFE to take care of his feverish child. Blows my mind.

    1. My husband is actually good about taking sick days to be with our kids. But he has NEVER bathed them. NEVER! How can that be?! Blows my mind on a daily basis.

      1. Not happening here, I am annoyed that I have to verbalize that steps that need to be accomplished by him, instead of him taking initiative, especially since we have a pretty specific schedule, but he has done all other aspects of ‘my’ job, or what falls to me the majority of the time. Except when G thinks she might have down there issues. She is sent straight to me for that, hahaha! I have lectured him he is her parent and she needs to feel safe discussing whatever her needs are and he just looked at me in horror. 😂😂😂

  12. I realized I read a book that explored this part of parenting, the division of work and why moms are tired and dads aren’t (and oodles of other stuff). All Joy and No Fun by Jennifer Senior. I think we (spouse and I) had a good discussion after I read it about the exhausting nature of mental work and how I was done with the solo mental work. Right now since I work and my spouse doesn’t, I have only the job of nagging about the status of things but even figuring out how to nag without seeming too overbearing and dictatorial is exhausting. Ugh relationships and kids are so hard.

  13. I’ve been thinking of all this stuff a lot lately, it’s such a difficult issue because these “roles” are so ingrained in us, we expect certain things from each other without even realizing it. I do all of the “women’s duties” – laundry, grocery shopping, ANY shopping, all things with kids, all cooking, all appointments. He does the outdoor work and fix it stuff. My husband complains that I no longer put his laundry away and i roll my eyes HARD. I’m also toying with the idea of going back to work possibly full time, but I am not sure I want to take on a job along with all the other responsibilities and can I even find one that would be worth having the kids in childcare full time? This is big stuff, and so hard to change. We struggle with the same – my husband thinks it’s a favor to me that he puts the kids to bed as I clean the kitchen – well newsflash, they are your children too.

    Anyway. I hope things get better and the glacier pace speeds up a bit.

    1. OMG, Char has been complaining that I no longer wash his work clothes. I wash mine, Stella’s Harvey’s, his nice clothes, all linens & towels, cloth diapers, etc. and put everything away. I FUCKING QUIT with his construction clothes. It’s asinine.

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