DH works from home so she sees him throughout the day, but he is working so it's just a quick hello and maybe an occasional 5 minute break. I work part-time from home and the nature of my job makes it hard for me to work elsewhere.
I've tried leaving them home alone more. It's tough to find the time. If I'm in the house she just claws at the gate or the door trying to get to me.
I'm just not sure what else to do.
No real advice, just wanted to say we're going through the same thing. DD (23 mos.) won't let Daddy get near her. It started when he had sinus surgery three weeks ago--we tried to keep her away from him because she is pretty active (violent) and we were afraid she would hurt him because he's not visibly injured. And he couldn't pick her up or bend over or get his BP up for 2 weeks...so he sort of stopped existing in her mind, I think. There was a few month phase where she didn't want anything to do with me because Daddy was so much fun, so I think it comes and goes.
We're just sort of ignoring it for now. We don't force the issue unless it's urgent--like poop leaking on the carpet, wet muddy shoes... those things Daddy needs to help with if Mama isn't right there. Otherwise, I think all you can do is wait and try not to make a big deal out of it--doing so seems to encourage DD. Hugs to your DH.
Just a word of commiseration and some potential light at the end of the tunnel (for you and your DH).
DD went through a phase where (among other types of rejection) she would actually tell him to leave the room if he came in (in our 800sq ft house). He's a pretty even-tempered and emotionally resilient person, but it started to get to him too. And it did last for some months (maybe 4 or 5?). But just in the past couple of months she's grown out of it and now she and he are the best of buddies. She's 31 months now.
In the 'chopped liver phase' as you so aptly put it, the best solution I found was to be gone for some good chunk of time (like my 4-5 hours of work) and leave the two of them together. It was sometimes tough on the two of them, but usually I would come home and find them having a great time, and that would last for a day of two afterwards. It was just when it was between me and him that he'd get the boot. We didn't ever try and curb the impulse. He would sometimes tell her that it hurt his feelings, but we didn't really ever try and stop her or change her reaction. Didn't seem like it would work.
I've read somewhere in a different thread that around this age it's tough for a toddler to feel affection and pay attention to more than one person at a time. So they cope with loving two people at once by rejecting one. And that it's pretty common.
My kids went through the same thing. I often went out for a coffee or a drive just to get a break and let them deal. That helped. (make it a priority). Otherwise we curbed the rudeness (the kids have no authority to tell us to leave the room, for example) and let it pass!
DS (6.06), DD (10.08), DD (05.11).
We´ve had this for what seems like forever (but I think it´s more about severe separation anxiety with DD than rejection). When I am not home she´s WONDERFUL with DH (or the grandparents or her babysitter) BUT if I´m home and someone else is there she is stuck to me like glue. HUGE tantrums when I go to the bathroom or if I try and get someone to help out (very bad since I´m pregnant with #2 and really need help at this point!). We talk to her about how that makes DH sad and sometimes that helps a bit. But really we´re just hoping it goes away soon! Basically the best thing for us is if I leave and she gets some bonding time with DH (or the grandparents).
It's a normal, healthy, and somewhat annoying stage of childhood. She's learning that mom and dad are different and right now she just prefers you. Eventually it will start going the other way and everything will be about dad. The best advice I can give is go with the flow. Yes, that means that when she wants you and not dad, and it's feasible for you to do it, then you should. There really is no use making a huge deal about fixing something that she is going to out grow in a few months.
If it looks like I'm trying to pick a fight... I'm not, I'm rarely that obvious.
My daughter is 38 months now, and we've had phases with both of us (husband and I) being chopped liver at different times. No worries - this too shall pass. It helps to have set, defined "Daddy" activities, and set, defined "Mommy" activities. Like, I always give her a bath, but he always reads her to sleep. etc.