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Dad's - how much do you help your wives?

post #1 of 87
Thread Starter 
Where I come from it's pretty normal to have chauvanistic attitudes. DH and I are almost splitting up over this issue. I know it could be worse - generally he respects me. There's no yelling or shouting, namecalling, throwing things, alcohol, etc.... but DH has bouts where he feels like if he brings in a paycheck that's enough, that he shouldn't owe me anything else. He feels if he works hard all day he doesn't need to help out with the kids or around the house. Basically it happens if he feels like it but when he doesn't feel like it or is otherwise occupied he uses the excuse that he worked all day or that he makes the money. I feel like such a second class citizen as a stay at home mom. Like if I don't make any money I don't deserve help and family teamwork. My job (though I can stop to nap or watch a tv program in the afternoon or post at MDC, lol) is 24-7. I know this is a common problem among many couples but I'm especially targeting maybe those dads who used to feel like this but have had a change of heart. How much do you do to help with the family after a hard day's work? Do you think it's fair? Do you feel you could or should be doing more or less?

Melissa
post #2 of 87
does it say something that so far no dads have responded? :LOL

s

this is hard, isn't it?

my SO was like this... and yes, it drove a gigantic wedge between us. we still have issues with it! but it's not nearly so bad now.

what helped me was this: i sat down and made a list of all of the things i normally did during the day and how long it took me to do them. then i looked up all the different people and services that would do those same things (personal cook, maid, nanny, preschool teacher / babysitter, etc) and made a list of their hourly rates. and then i tallied up how much money i was worth ~ how much it would cost for us to hire people to do the exact same things that i did every single day, without pay, without benefits, and with no recognition from anyone.

then i gave the list, and the sum, to my SO.

it kind of got the point across...
post #3 of 87
Thread Starter 
Sorry, what's SO?
post #4 of 87
Significant Other.



still no replies?!?! s
post #5 of 87
Thread Starter 
still no replies?!?! s[/QUOTE]

Nope! But I might just have to write out a list like yours. I'm feeling tempted to get a job just to proove I can make it without his financial support - that I need more than just the money. We're at least in talking mode now. Thanks for your help.

Melissa
post #6 of 87

a dad's perspective

I had written a lengthy reply earlier today, but before I could submit it my computer froze!

Anyways, my point of view is that parenting is at least a two-person job. It's unrealistic for me to expect my wife to do all the parenting even though she's a SAHM, because her job is definitely much more demanding than mine - it can be so physically and mentally exhausting! (just have your DH spend a few hours with your kids alone to find out how hard it is...)

I work out of the home, so I don't get to spend as much time on weekdays with my son (1 year) as I would like - maybe two hours in the morning and an hour in the evening. But during those times I try to do my share and give my wife a break: in the morning I usually change diapers, play with him and start his breakfast while my wife gets an extra hour of sleep, and at night I read him bedtime stories and put him to bed while my wife prepares dinner. Of course there are times when things are so hectic at work that I need a break when I get home. Fortunately my wife is so great and understanding and lets me be on those nights (yeah I'm really lucky! ).
Also on weekends I try to do a good share of the baby care, especially when we're out (I love to carry him in my slings anyways, so it's not a problem! ).

In any case, I think it's fair for you to ask your DH to contribute, but at the same time I don't think you should push him. It should really come from himself. He needs to realize that he's needed around the house and that his contribution matters (even if it's not baby related, like cleaning, etc.). Also, do you think part of his reluctance could be due to the fact that he's not comfortable with caring for the kids? (either b/c he's not used to it, or b/c you do such an awesome job at it! ) If so, maybe you could try to involve him more, starting with what he's comfortable with.

Anyways, not sure if this is helping any, but I thought I'd give you a dad's perspective... good luck!
post #7 of 87
Ummm...please forgive me for butting in...but sling dad...are you real?
post #8 of 87
Thread Starter 
I just did the same thing, posted a long reply and got disconnected

Sling dad, thanks. I was saying your DW is also very lucky. I know very few men who help the way you do. Can you come and stay with me for a while? Just as an example? LOL!

For real. Most of the time I know I have to just let DH be. I don't force the issue but I do express my needs and dissappointment (not in a nagging way). DH is very introverted and needs to space out after work. Otherwise he just gets irritable and owly. It's hard with four kids, 3 under 4. It gets very noisy and active here, especially around supper.

Having said that, I just wish sometimes he's extend himself further than what he is comfortable with. There is the odd time he helps. like two nights ago and he put out two toddlers to bed. The thing that really bugs me is that we've talked about this many times and I've explained that I feel so alone in life, I get depressed and that makes me less lovable. I also am more likely to decline dates and be more unresponsive during sex b/c I'm wiped all the time as I am waay stretching myself over my limits everyday. I don't know why he doesn't get that I will be a better wife for him when he helps. It's just a win-win situation when everyone is doing their part.

I also think it has to do with upbringing and what was modeled to you. Most of the men I know who are sensitive and helpful come from families of all girls or were the firstborn, taking lots of responsibility, or the children of a single mom, thus more in tune with female needs. DH's dad was an alcoholic who was gone alot and when he was home mostly sat around and watched TV. He's mellowed in his old age and helps my MIL lots now. However, I think many can get past their upbringing and follow their God-given instincts. It all comes down to choice, don't you think?

Melissa
post #9 of 87
Quote:
sling dad...are you real?
:LOL Funny, I just saw the movie "Shattered Glass" where this journalist fabricated most of his articles for a long time without anyone finding out...hmm, maybe my whole life is fake!

Melissa,
WOW!! 4 kids so young in age?!? You must be SuperMom!! Then you have every right to ask for some help! Maybe you're right though, maybe your DH feels a bit overwhelmed with all the activities in the house when he gets home from work (I'm also an introvert, and I can't deal with a lot of noise). Perhaps you can suggest to your DH to take just one of the kids (maybe the mellowest one that day ) when he's home and have the two of them do a quiet activity together like playing, bath, reading, etc. while you take care of the rest. That way he might feel less overwhelmed with the whole situation, and who knows, maybe he'll eventually be more willing to help with other things too. Anyways, I wish you all the best!
post #10 of 87
Thread Starter 
My kids are 8, 4(in July), 2 1/2, and 10 months! I'm 28 and so is DH. Thanks for the advice. You helped me see that by possibly maintainig a state of control he may be more willing to help. That's something I have been intending to do for awhile. Back to the drawing board!

Melissa
post #11 of 87
LOL! Just making sure you weren't really a stepford husband...you are a rare breed though! Melissa, I know where you're coming from except I only have one child!
post #12 of 87
G-Dawg's husband here.

I want to give a little disclaimer to my comments. I deeply admire and respect the work of a SAHM. I appreciate what Sling Dad said. You have every right to expect more out of your husband. But because you are the one asking, not your DH, my advise goes out to you.

Sometimes men seem to take a bit longer to "buy into" fatherhood. Especially when they have a wife that is so competent. They can be overwhealmed. I know from experience that it is hard to keep up with a MDC mom. They are so proactive and get concerned about issues that I never realized were issues. While my wife's play taught her to love babies and take care of them, mine taught me how to tear crap apart and put it together again. It is easy to watch a competent women taking care of children and think, "why should I get involved, she is doing a better job than I can do. I don't want to mess this up."

I would consider myself a helpful husband, but I am nowhere near the husband and father that I want to be. I would assume that most parents feel that way. Try to see your husband as a work in progress. I have said this before...there is nothing a wife can do to MAKE her husband understand or do what she wants. As humans we are able to CHOOSE the response to a given stimulus. When someone is in a situation like yours, the best bet is to shift YOUR thinking. Ultimately that is all you have control over. I hated to hear that you were considering splitting up over this. From the way you described your husband, I think he has potential. Here are some things I would suggest to try to create the right atmosphere for your husband to change. This approach might give him the psychological space to change for the right reasons.

First, find a time when he is feeling open to conversation. Maybe point out some of the things that he HAS done recently to help. It is important that he knows you notice. Then just ask him what makes a good husband and father. Tell him how you feel about being a wife and mother. Inform him that his recent help empowers you to be a better mom and wife. Then ask what help you could give to help him. More of a returning the favor approach. (I am well aware that you are probably ahead in the favor department, but for the sake of avoiding a confrontation, go with me...). Maybe all of the kids at once are to much. Taking one on a daddy date may help both of you. The more bonding that takes place with the kids, the more he takes an interest in helping them. He needs this time.

My wife is the master of this next approach. Give him options when there is a lot to do. You may end up doing some of the unpleasant jobs, but at least it is help. Would he like to change a diaper, or rock the baby etc... It gets him involved but it doesn't come across that he is your assistant. He has a choice.

The way your husband was brought up can be used as a reason, but not an excuse. I am nothing like my father when it comes to parenting. I have certain predispositions for sure, but I can CHOOSE what kind of parent I will be.

Praise him. I can't say it enough. Just like you wouldn't ridicule a toddler for scribbling instead of coloring in the lines, praise him for making an effort. Make a list of his contributions to the family. I have already heard that he is a good provider, doesn't yell, helps you some (when it is his idea) etc... Thank him for the help. Thank him that his job allows you to be such an big influence on your children. Praise him to your kids. When he plays with them, tell them that they have a nice daddy.

Try to involve him in decisions. Ask what he thinks about things. Open communication about positive things. If he feels negative, he will withdraw, but small progress is still progress. 1% each day means he will be 100% better in less than 4 months.

Hang in there! Forgive him for the past. Don't hang it over his head. Take him by the hand and lead him, but don't push. Bless your little family. They are lucky to have someone that cares so much.
post #13 of 87
P.S. ladies, don't get upset, or infer things about response time for men! This site is called MOTHERING!

Thanks
post #14 of 87
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by G-Dawg
G-Dawg's husband here.

I want to give a little disclaimer to my comments. I deeply admire and respect the work of a SAHM. I appreciate what Sling Dad said. You have every right to expect more out of your husband. But because you are the one asking, not your DH, my advise goes out to you.

Sometimes men seem to take a bit longer to "buy into" fatherhood. Especially when they have a wife that is so competent. They can be overwhealmed. I know from experience that it is hard to keep up with a MDC mom. They are so proactive and get concerned about issues that I never realized were issues. While my wife's play taught her to love babies and take care of them, mine taught me how to tear crap apart and put it together again. It is easy to watch a competent women taking care of children and think, "why should I get involved, she is doing a better job than I can do. I don't want to mess this up."

I would consider myself a helpful husband, but I am nowhere near the husband and father that I want to be. I would assume that most parents feel that way. Try to see your husband as a work in progress. I have said this before...there is nothing a wife can do to MAKE her husband understand or do what she wants. As humans we are able to CHOOSE the response to a given stimulus. When someone is in a situation like yours, the best bet is to shift YOUR thinking. Ultimately that is all you have control over. I hated to hear that you were considering splitting up over this. From the way you described your husband, I think he has potential. Here are some things I would suggest to try to create the right atmosphere for your husband to change. This approach might give him the psychological space to change for the right reasons.

First, find a time when he is feeling open to conversation. Maybe point out some of the things that he HAS done recently to help. It is important that he knows you notice. Then just ask him what makes a good husband and father. Tell him how you feel about being a wife and mother. Inform him that his recent help empowers you to be a better mom and wife. Then ask what help you could give to help him. More of a returning the favor approach. (I am well aware that you are probably ahead in the favor department, but for the sake of avoiding a confrontation, go with me...). Maybe all of the kids at once are to much. Taking one on a daddy date may help both of you. The more bonding that takes place with the kids, the more he takes an interest in helping them. He needs this time.

My wife is the master of this next approach. Give him options when there is a lot to do. You may end up doing some of the unpleasant jobs, but at least it is help. Would he like to change a diaper, or rock the baby etc... It gets him involved but it doesn't come across that he is your assistant. He has a choice.

The way your husband was brought up can be used as a reason, but not an excuse. I am nothing like my father when it comes to parenting. I have certain predispositions for sure, but I can CHOOSE what kind of parent I will be.

Praise him. I can't say it enough. Just like you wouldn't ridicule a toddler for scribbling instead of coloring in the lines, praise him for making an effort. Make a list of his contributions to the family. I have already heard that he is a good provider, doesn't yell, helps you some (when it is his idea) etc... Thank him for the help. Thank him that his job allows you to be such an big influence on your children. Praise him to your kids. When he plays with them, tell them that they have a nice daddy.

Try to involve him in decisions. Ask what he thinks about things. Open communication about positive things. If he feels negative, he will withdraw, but small progress is still progress. 1% each day means he will be 100% better in less than 4 months.

Hang in there! Forgive him for the past. Don't hang it over his head. Take him by the hand and lead him, but don't push. Bless your little family. They are lucky to have someone that cares so much.
You have much wisdom. We have actually come a ways since I posted this originally. I spent some time in "my prayer closet" over this and came to realize my end of it. I'm very much a perfectionist and have very high expectations. DH is literally my opposite and it takes some open-mindedness to get understanding of his perception of reality. We also both tend to be very stubborn thinking our own way has to be the right way.

We ended up agreeing on a date to sort things out which happened two nights ago. Actually, lack of communiction and misunderstandings have more to do with this issue than anything. We agreed to make a weekly date night a priority as a time to re-connect. Assuming false motives and selfishness seems a very easy trap to fall into. I'm also guilty of striving to make things happen and manipulating to get my way (which I have been aware of and working hard on since our first year of marriage).

I think the problem was that I have actually NOT been competent and though DH sees me struggling cannot seem to stretch himself beyond what he normally does. We have had lice, bedbugs, and now 6" of water in our basement within 6 months. Needless to say I am behind in laundry (about 15 garbage bags) and boxes from the basement need to be sorted for damage.... I'm just overwhelmed and a little more support would help. I feel if we both pitched in in one weekend and really worked hard it would all get done.

I certainly do need to adopt some of the practices you mentioned. I need to print that off and keep it on my fridge. Our problem is that with years of marriage and lots of little kids we've become reactive instead of proactive in our marriage, just responding to situations as they come up instead of becoming aggressive and making things happen. I will definately take your advice to heart. Thank you so much.
post #15 of 87
Why would I want to help her, I would never do it right in the first place so we have a deal here, she stays out of the garage, and I stay away from the kitchen and laundry room.

Helping my wife is like looking for a fight
post #16 of 87
Thread Starter 
HC4,
I originally posted to vent and to get an idea what other husbands find acceptable and normal. I think many men are like you. It's great if you and your DW have a working agreement. However, I would personally not be satisfied with that kind of an arrangement. I suppose though, that I'm not necessarily looking for DH to do laundry or dishes, but just perhaps that we would do the kids' bedtime routine together or that he would help dish out their plates at suppertime. Any little thing to show we are doing the family thing together. I want him to be more involved with family life and from time to time to do abit extra when I am on the verge of a breakdown instead of watching me struggle on my own while he sits on the couch and watches TV or plays video games.

Melissa
post #17 of 87
My husband and I used to have a few problems with this issue until I started working. We worked opposite hours. He'd be home with the kids in the mornings and I'd be home with them the rest of the day. We did this for almost seven years. I wouldn't necessarily recommend it. But I think we both learned a lot from it.

I definitely learned what it's like to come home from work very tired. The last thing you want is someone bugging you to do more to help. My husband learned how hard it is to stay home with the kids too. After our third son was born he couldn't handle it very well. I quit my job to stay home with the kids and now only work on weekends. He of course watches them on the weekends when it is a lot easier, not having to get anyone ready for school!

What we both learned from our experience is you must respect the other person and their limits. If you know your spouse is tired from a long day at work, accept that. And vice-versa, being home with the kids is incredibly draining in every was possible. There's no reason why there can't be compromises. In the end, children need parents who work together for their well being. Maybe Dad should give them their bath and get them ready for bed. Not only does it give mom a break, but it shows his children that he's involved. Happier parents mean happier kids.
post #18 of 87
Thread Starter 

Ita!!!

There is a big difference between the kind of tired you get from working and the kind of tired you get from staying at home with kids. The work is totally different too. Both are tiresome in different ways. I tend to think of my job as 24-7 as I've always got an ear out even in the middle of the night for kids who are either sick, having bad dreams, or nursing. I'm always on call. But I can occasionally take a break. I do agree that there needs to be general family involvement. Even if just in very small ways.

Melissa
post #19 of 87

Hmmmm

I have to admit, I can easily see both sides of this issue, being male but also having taken to doing **some** things around the house.

I definitely agree with the post saying that there's already an expert on the case, stay the hell out of the way. That's a very male way of looking at it - this is a team with specialized units therein. You handle the kids, I make the money. The idea of a team being you do 50% of task A and I do 50% of task B, and you do 50% of task B and I do 50% of task B is ALIEN.

There's also the perception that women have it sweet. The men go out, fight traffic, get into work, deal with hassle, deadlines, etc. and field the occasional call from home, can you do this, can you do that, etc. Get back into gridlock, get home, and the first thing the women do is say "Thank God!Here you go! take him/her!"

Well, what did you do all day? Oh, we made the decision to go to the park, then I decided to do the dishes while he/she slept with her nap, then we sat down and read some stories, then I put the laundry on - I don't feel like cooking, let's go out for dinner and the guy's thinking, wow, I wish I could decide how MY work day was going to go.

Of course, not all men feel this way. But a lot of em do. You tend to pattern yourself on what your own parents did and how they handle stuff.

Laziness doesn't exactly live just on the male side either: here's an interesting story I just came across:

"Another poll of 2100 women was taken in the UK that suggested, 'Young mothers are rejecting equality in the workplace and preferring the idea of becoming full-time housewives - but not ones who actually do housework.

This is the overall conclusion of research among 2,100 British adults that says women are happy to abandon the workplace but not if it means spending all day at home cooking, cleaning and looking after children."

It was fascinating reading. Not for the study, but how different people interpreted the results. You could tell how people's family lives were (here's a hint - most were divorced) depending on how they interpreted the data.

There's a show that takes CEOs and make em work front line on their own factory floors, incognito, just to see the effects of their decisions. Many come away with a greater appreciation of what they do and sometimes reverse decisions that made sense on the back 9 while talking it over with Jim and Henry from the consulting firm. Maybe fathers who think mothering is a cushy option should try it.
post #20 of 87
G-Dawg's husband again...

I have a few comments about recent posts.

If you can negotiate a clear definition of his/her jobs, that is great. I do think there is merit, however, to the idea that there is no women's work or men's work, it is just work. (Lactating excluded). In small areas, DW and I have agreements. I don't usually do toilets, and she doesn't kill bugs that crunch. In the major areas, however, we are both capable of doing either job.

I think that we, as men, should get out of the mindset that the wife nurses, cares for, educates, entertains, feeds, bathes, and nurtures the children and as men we bring in a paycheck and lift heavy crap (as needed).

How can we say that we will just follow the example of how we were raised. My father was a TV addict who spent every moment at home in bed watching TV. He ate every meal in bed. VHS and Beta VCR's were wired to a night stand next to the bed. The remotes were velcroed to the wall. He always had q-tips, lotion, salt, fingernail clippers etc... right there so he would never have to get up. I am surprised there was no bedpan. He fully expected my mother to serve his meals to him in bed.

After a hard day at work, that sounds pretty good, until I remember that I am not a selfish pig!! I exercise my ability to choose a response to a stimulus and try to do what is best for my family.

Does that mean I don't have issues with TV? No. I can zone out like no other when I watch TV, so I CHOSE to go without cable. I CHOSE to keep the TV out of the bedroom. I CHOSE to play with my kids, change diapers and help clean the house. For the women out there...I CHOSE a wife that wouldn't enable me to act like my father.

I believe the OP was not about what specific tasks men do to help, but that we do something to contribute while she is doing all of the work. My wife is very capable. I am positive she could get by without any help. I don't want my children raised to just get by. I want them to excel, and that will be most likely if we both do what we can. Don't fall into the trap of (this is what my parent modeled for me, so that is what I am going to do). If that is the case, heaven help my children because I am helplessly consigned to practice DP (detachment parenting) forever. Puh-leeze!

If she seems to do all of those things better than you, remember this:

"That which we persist in doing becomes easier. Not that the nature of the thing has changed, but our ability to do it has increased." -unknown to me

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