Are you always the default caregiver? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 17 Old 03-23-2011, 03:07 PM - Thread Starter
 
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If so, how do you feel about it? If not, how do you make that work (ie: are the certain days/times that dp is the default)?

 

I feel like I'm always the default, unless it's specified otherwise. Don't get me wrong- dp (exdp? whatever he is) spends lots of time with the kids, and if I want to go out, it's generally workable.

But I feel like I always have to ASK him if it's a good time for him, or ASK him if he'll watch the kids (again, I know he won't say no, but I can't just up and go somewhere, yk?)

He gets to get up in the morning, pee alone, take a shower by himself, go to the grocery store alone, take the dog for a walk alone...and he never has to ask me if it's a good time, or if I mind watching the kids. Because it's just assumed that I am/will watch the kids. He just says "I'm going to the store" and goes.

 

I want to be able to just go to the grocery store, by myself, and not have to plan it out. I want to be able to just say "hey, I'm going grocery shopping. See ya later."

 

I'm wondering how many other SAHP's feel the same way. Is it even worthwhile to wish it would be different? Can it be different? All I want is a few hours a week where HE is the default caregiver, where I can drop everything and take the dog on a walk by myself without having to ask him to watch the kids, kwim? 


Becky, partner to Teague, SAHM to Keagan (7yo), Jonah (2yo)
 

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#2 of 17 Old 03-23-2011, 04:42 PM
 
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I was, until I took on a high workload board position at my kids' school.  Now because of all the activities, board meetings, and advocacy that I do, for the past two years HE has been the default (he works from home though, which makes it a bit easier for me to do that).  I think we are both looking forward to my term being up at the end of next school year.

 

That being said, I think sometimes as women in particular we become overly hung up and resentful about "needing to ask", so we don't ask or arrange what we need, and then we get pissed that we're not getting it, and nobody hides that particularly well (resentment towards one's partner).

 

If what you want is 2-3 hours a week for him to be default, then may I ask why you don't want to ask?  He's not a mindreader. In fact, I would ask for more than that.  I would ask him to be default for 2 or 3 hours a day a couple times a week, so that you can do shopping, errands, meet friends, or just go to the library or whatever OR stay home or whatever you want, but it's understood that he will not schedule stuff during that time and that you are free to say, "I'm taking off to go X right now, babe, see you around Y, I'll call if I'm running late.  Can i get you anything while I'm out?"  And even if he isn't dancing with yippy skippy joy, you do it!

 

I think that too many people get hurt too much because they feel resentful over asking, and resentful over not getting what they want.  Just ask.  Esp. if you set up a regular time, that's a lot easier than asking frequently.  And it's respectful--of everyone.  And a good habit to get into and one you want to model for your children (asking for what they need, not relying on other people to "notice" when you already know what you need, and partnering with your partner and problem solving.)

 

As you say, he is always willing to do it.  So I would examine if it's more that you feel uncomfortable asking period (like you feel you shouldn't, or you're uncomfortable asking for what you need, or being healthfully assertive) and might be projecting a bit here.  Most of the time, people do have to ask for what they need.  It's not a poor reflection on your partner that you need to do that, it's giving him the gift of allowing him to meet your needs in just the way you want and desire, rather than him groping around and being clueless/wrong.

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#3 of 17 Old 03-23-2011, 06:54 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by Tigerchild View Post

 

That being said, I think sometimes as women in particular we become overly hung up and resentful about "needing to ask", so we don't ask or arrange what we need, and then we get pissed that we're not getting it, and nobody hides that particularly well (resentment towards one's partner).

I agree that that's often the case, but not with me. lol. With us, I'm much more likely to express my needs, and he's the one that's bothered that I don't just know what he needs.

 

I've told him how I feel, and I don't think he really gets it. I'm not sure anyone that's never been a sahp would be able to get it, kwim?

I said that I wanted 3 hours a week where he's the default, and he said it made him sound (feel?) like I didn't have my own time to do anything I wanted, and basically said he wouldn't agree to 3 hours a week, and that it had to be 3-4 hours a day. But that won't work for us, because that would take time away from him working (and when he doesn't work enough, he gets depressed etc etc). sigh.

I *think* that today I got him to agree to 3 hours a week. The only problem here, is that I won't know if it's a problem for him until after the fact (see what I wrote above about him wanting me to be a mind reader. lol). It won't be a problem per se, but if it cuts into work time, he'll be resentful and depressed afterwards.

That's part of the problem too, anytime I ask him to watch the kids while I go do something- I'll say "hey I want to do x. When is good for you?" and he'll say "right now" whether now is actually good for him or not. And it's always a possibility that he's all bummed out later because he didn't get work done. So I tend to feel sort of bad for going, because I never know if now is actually a good time or not. And yep, I've told him that my life would be WAYYY easier if he were just honest with me and said no if he meant no. I think he's working on it, maybe.

 

It's just that today, I got wondering if it really makes any sense for me to strive to have that "free" time, where I don't have to ask do be able to do something. Maybe that's just life as a mother? I dunno- it doesn't sound fair. But I dunno. 


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#4 of 17 Old 03-24-2011, 08:04 AM
 
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I still think you are taking too much responsibility, though.  Whether or not he says "right now" and means it is not your problem.  Maybe if you take him up on it, ignore any passive aggressivness, and tell your guilt to take a hike enough, he'll actually be honest eventually.  But until then--not your problem.  Give him a big kiss, say thanks, get him a treat he might like when you go out---but go out.

 

I wouldn't conflate "he must always be happy about it" with "in order for me to feel okay with going out."  Sometimes a committment you make to your partner is inconvenient sometimes, we all still do things even if we don't "want" to at that time, because we honor the committments we made and it's the right thing to do for that person.

 

I think if you don't go, or if you use what you think are his feelings about it as an excuse as to why you aren't taking it as a break--that's on you.  If he says yes, when you give him an opportunity to reschedule--then that is on him.  You can't own his stuff in that regard---but neither can he own yours!

 

Keep practicing getting out!  the more regularly you do it, the more used to it he'll get, and the closer he'll get to saying it doesn't work for him when he finally realizes that you're going to take him at his word; but even if he never does, that's okay.

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#5 of 17 Old 03-24-2011, 10:45 AM
 
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Pretty much I am the default caregiver.  But he is also the default provider, so it balances out.  Like when he gets up for work in the morning, he might be all by himself, but I am snuggled between the 2 kids and get to sleep for a couple of extra hours.  My dh has a stressful job and pretty much turns his brain off when he gets home and I delegate what happens around here, like "ok you take the kids, I'm going to do this".  He basically told me all I need to do is ask whatever I need and he'll do it.  And he does. 

 

I do this thing like if I am in the shower I think, oh I should hurry up so I can take the kids, or after my workout if I want to check something on the computer I feel guilty as though I should finish up and get back to the kids...but it is totally my problem because dh never makes me feel like he is just "babysitting" his kids for me. 


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#6 of 17 Old 03-24-2011, 03:04 PM
 
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Yes, I'm the default caregiver, although when DH is off of work he would definitely tell me /ask me if he was going somewhere. He wouldn't just walk out the door yk? I'm one of the SAHMs who has no trouble asking DH to do stuff. I ask him to do all the chores he does, like taking out the trash etc. I like to think of myself as the CEO of the household, and he is my assistant. He's so out of his element when he's at home. If I were his assistant at work I would probably wait for him to tell me what to do too!

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#7 of 17 Old 03-24-2011, 04:14 PM
 
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Yes.  And right this minute I am really fussy about it.  But I have a 6 month old. :)  Once my older kid became more boob-independent I took a lot more time off.  I'm hoping it will get back there.  We are struggling right now with issue. 


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#8 of 17 Old 03-24-2011, 05:01 PM
 
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I am now the SAHP and in *my* case my husband would totally bristle if I said "Can you please commit to giving me 3 hours of alone time every week". He would hear it as "you need to schedule it right now and if you back out I am going to be totally pissed". 

 

However f I woke up on Saturday and said "Honey I am heading out the grocery store and to do a few errands.  Be back in time in for lunch" he would be fine. Or on a Sunday afternoon I have no problem saying its a gorgeous day I am going to take the dog to the park". I don't ask in advance or do that much preplanning for some "me" time on the weekends. I take what I can get!

 

During the week though I do make sure he doesn't have a late meeting or other commitment.  In that case I make my plans and then check in "Honey, me and BFF want to grab a glass a wine next week.  Any day better than others?"  Then I write on the calendar. What is on the calender is commitment and no rescheduling (for all members of the family)

 

 

 


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#9 of 17 Old 03-25-2011, 11:43 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Magali View Post

Pretty much I am the default caregiver.  But he is also the default provider, so it balances out. 



This is how it is here, too.  Like, if we needed the money, he could ask me to get a part time job, and I would, but I'm probably not going to just volunteer to do that.  So, in the same way, he's probably not going to volunteer to be the dault caregiver.  I ask for what I need, and he's always happy to make that happen. 

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#10 of 17 Old 03-27-2011, 07:39 PM
 
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I used to be the default caregiver unless I asked my husband to do something for our daughter, just because that's how I "had to have it" in the beginning. It was so easy when our daughter was born to just do everything myself. The one thing that irked me was if we were all doing something together and he would leave the room and not say where he was going because we'd have no idea when he'd be back or how long he'd be gone or if, you know, he could grab us a water while he was up, etc. So I told him about it a few times and finally he announces what he's doing- because I could never get away without doing that and it wouldn't be fair to our daughter either to be left in the dark about it. Anyway, eventually I just started looking at him when our daughter would ask me to do something or just saying "no daddy will have to do that" and he stepped up to the plate. I am the default caregiver most of the time but after 3 years of being always "on" when he's home on the weekend or evening, I love to be able to sneak off to check my email for a couple minutes or just sit back and watch THEM play. I like it when in the morning on the weekend it's second nature for him to just take her to the potty and make her a pancake while I kind of spectate. So what I want to tell you is that you can probably change your role some by making some subtle changes, and be a lot happier for it. My husband and my daughter have a much better bond since I've handed over the reigns a bit too, so everyone has benefited. I wanted to add that for me the "one person is provider & one person is caregiver"- well that's just not how I like it. I like that my husband can spend enough time with our daughter that he is also a big part of her life. I think that during his 40 hours he's the primary breadwinner and in his/my 40 hours I'm the primary caregiver and homemaker, but all those other hours, we're one big family team. I agree that I'm definitely the primary caregiver but I think it's important that it doesn't always have to be mommy and that I'm not the only strong attachment she holds. And in order to have a healthy attachment, my child has to be cared for by her father and have a trust built there, you know? I think it's different for every family, but like Dr. Sears once said, "If you resent it, change it!" and work out a way to help you all be happy.

 

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#11 of 17 Old 03-27-2011, 08:48 PM
 
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I'm always the default caregiver.  It sucks.  I resent it.  I'm not sure it's possible for things to be any different in my household, but I don't think anyone who doesn't have to should settle for living this way.  Three hours a week for your DP to be default caregiver is totally reasonable, and I think you should insist on it even if it does turn out to be a problem for him.  He has a job and you don't, right?  So how many hours a week is he not working at his job, but awake?  Maybe 8 hours each weekday plus 16 hrs/day on weekends, for a total of 72 hours?  I think it would be reasonable for him to be default caregiver for half of those 72 hours.  But it sounds like he has things he really wants to do in his spare time and you don't feel such a pressing need for time to yourself, so you're willing to take on extra child care duty.  If you really don't mind that, fine.  But if you're making yourself as unhappy as you're afraid he will be if you ask for more time to yourself, then you need to rethink the situation.

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#12 of 17 Old 03-28-2011, 05:10 AM
 
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I feel like I should clarify.  Just because I'm the default doesn't mean that dh doesn't ever care for them.  Especially once they wean, my dh takes a big role in their care.  He's just gone during the week (he doesn't work an enormous amount--maybe 50-55 hours), and little kids aren't awake for all that long that isn't "work hours", especially during the week. 

 

When my dh is home, he is totally in the dad role.  On Saturdays, he gets everyone up, dressed, breakfast, and often, he takes my older two boys (they are 2 and 4) off somewhere or outside gardening.  He cares for them without me.  It's still usually up to me to plan something for lunch--either out or at home--but if I'm not home, he'd take care of that.

 

In the evenings, dh plays with the boys (all 3) between supper and bedtime.  He gets home right at suppertime, or he'd play/care for them prior to that, too.  He helps with bedtime for the older two (he can't really nurse the baby--LOL). 

 

At church on Sundays, our two younger boys sit with us.  Dh is completely in charge of the 2 year old (again...I get the baby, cause it's not like he can nurse him).  Two or three nights a month, I leave in the evenings to do whatever.  I go to a worship service at church, cooking classes, sometimes I grocery shop alone or go shopping for something that is hard with the boys (bras, anyone?).  Dh is completely in charge then, and he does fine. 

 

So, for us, default doesn't mean mama does it all.  It just means that caregiver is my main role, as provider is his main role. 

 

Just re-read the OP.... I guess my dh sort of "asks permission" if he's going off/planning something out of the ordinary.  I'm not jealous of his shower/getting ready alone, cause it happens at 5 am!  And, I am appreciative that I don't have to get up that early.  LOL.  In our house, things are usually phrased like, "Oh, I need to go to Lowe's.  Is that okay with you?"  And, I can ask him to take a kid or (if I need to get away), I can offer to go instead of him, or I can suggest the whole family go.  So, I guess while, technically, he has the freedom to just up and go somewhere, he doesn't really.  I can't remember how this came about, so I don't have any good advice there.  Same thing happens at night--he'll say, "hey, I want to do something Monday night.  Will that work for you?"  So, I have a chance to give any input I need to (hey, I'm overwhelmed, can I have a night, too?  Can  you make it later or earlier?  Stuff like that).  And, on Saturday mornings, he always takes care of the kids so I can sleep late.

 

But, in my house, yeah, having a baby changed just being able to pick up and go for a walk without announcing it to everyone and figure out what all the other people in the house were going to do while I was walking (are they staying home?  going with me?  Is dh busy?  Can he keep an eye on them?).  It was just part of the whole seismic shift of parenthood for us.  For both of us, really.

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#13 of 17 Old 03-28-2011, 05:35 AM
 
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I feel like I should clarify.  Just because I'm the default doesn't mean that dh doesn't ever care for them.  Especially once they wean, my dh takes a big role in their care.  He's just gone during the week (he doesn't work an enormous amount--maybe 50-55 hours), and little kids aren't awake for all that long that isn't "work hours", especially during the week. 

 

When my dh is home, he is totally in the dad role.  On Saturdays, he gets everyone up, dressed, breakfast, and often, he takes my older two boys (they are 2 and 4) off somewhere or outside gardening.  He cares for them without me.  It's still usually up to me to plan something for lunch--either out or at home--but if I'm not home, he'd take care of that.

 

In the evenings, dh plays with the boys (all 3) between supper and bedtime.  He gets home right at suppertime, or he'd play/care for them prior to that, too.  He helps with bedtime for the older two (he can't really nurse the baby--LOL). 

 

At church on Sundays, our two younger boys sit with us.  Dh is completely in charge of the 2 year old (again...I get the baby, cause it's not like he can nurse him).  Two or three nights a month, I leave in the evenings to do whatever.  I go to a worship service at church, cooking classes, sometimes I grocery shop alone or go shopping for something that is hard with the boys (bras, anyone?).  Dh is completely in charge then, and he does fine. 

 

So, for us, default doesn't mean mama does it all.  It just means that caregiver is my main role, as provider is his main role. 

 

Just re-read the OP.... I guess my dh sort of "asks permission" if he's going off/planning something out of the ordinary.  I'm not jealous of his shower/getting ready alone, cause it happens at 5 am!  And, I am appreciative that I don't have to get up that early.  LOL.  In our house, things are usually phrased like, "Oh, I need to go to Lowe's.  Is that okay with you?"  And, I can ask him to take a kid or (if I need to get away), I can offer to go instead of him, or I can suggest the whole family go.  So, I guess while, technically, he has the freedom to just up and go somewhere, he doesn't really.  I can't remember how this came about, so I don't have any good advice there.  Same thing happens at night--he'll say, "hey, I want to do something Monday night.  Will that work for you?"  So, I have a chance to give any input I need to (hey, I'm overwhelmed, can I have a night, too?  Can  you make it later or earlier?  Stuff like that).  And, on Saturday mornings, he always takes care of the kids so I can sleep late.

 

But, in my house, yeah, having a baby changed just being able to pick up and go for a walk without announcing it to everyone and figure out what all the other people in the house were going to do while I was walking (are they staying home?  going with me?  Is dh busy?  Can he keep an eye on them?).  It was just part of the whole seismic shift of parenthood for us.  For both of us, really.



This is how it is in our house too!!

 

I am the default caregiver, and I'm ok with it b/c if DH did want to run out and clean the garage, go to Lowes, or something like that, he would pop in and be like, "Is it ok if I wanted to run out?"  Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't and I let him know.  I can even be like, "Sure -- can you grab XYZ from the food store too?" and it actually makes my life easier b/c then I don't have to take a crazy toddler to the food store.

 

If I've had DD all day and would love a break and he's running out, I'll suggest he take her with him (if it's food shopping or something simple, not going to buy drywall!) and he will.

 

But, all that said, even on weekends, every day, I'm responsible for the cooking, cleaning, hygiene (baths, brushing teeth, potty).  But that's really ok with me (most of the time) b/c like I said before, he cleans the garage, mows the lawn, and fixes the cars.  He does fixer upper things that I don't want to do and don't have the skill to do.  It's all about balance and NOT resenting your partner b/c they ARE helping out, just in different ways.

 

OP - Give it a shot.  Have you tried just announcing you're going to the store?  "Hey, I'm running out for a few things, watch the kids, ok?"  Also, maybe mention this to him that you feel taken advantage of, and you would like it to be more of a mutual agreement if he wants to run out.  And maybe once a week or so he can make an effort to watch the kids so you can get a long hot shower and shave your legs and take that me-time.  (I get that on Sundays, lol).


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#14 of 17 Old 03-28-2011, 03:38 PM
 
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I've thought about picking a day on the weekend, like Saturday or Sunday where DH is the default caregiver. Just knowing that I'll have one day where I can have a small ounce of freedom helps me.


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#15 of 17 Old 04-01-2011, 06:09 PM
 
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Yes, I am. And I don't love it, and I know DH doesn't love it, either, but it's one of those things that doesn't seem easy to change. It's nice to say, ok, let's just do this differently. But actually putting it into practice? Hard. We have our habits and routines. DH is not used to it AT ALL. The kids aren't used to it. And I think DH would be overwhelmed if we just flipped things, and I know the house would be in shambles, and and..... LOL. 

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#16 of 17 Old 04-02-2011, 10:04 AM - Thread Starter
 
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aargh. I had something typed up and ds2 hit the keyboard and now it's gone. blah.

 

It's not even really anything that he's doing wrong. I just want some freedom from the kids. lol. I think he starting to understand what I mean, and he's making an effort to give me that time and freedom. So that's a plus for him :)

 

 

Tigerchild- I agree with you in theory. I spent the first 8-9 years of our relationship taking his "it's fine" at face value, and doing whatever it was he said "ok" to. Come to find out in Feb this year (when he broke up with me) that one of the big problems is that I'm not supportive enough, and those situations are part of it. I used to yell down to him when he was in the basement (where he works) "When you get to a stopping point, would you do X please?" and he'd always do it right then. Later on, he'd be all bummed and mopey because he didn't get anything done, because he had to stop in the middle of working. Yeah, I don't get it either. So when I was trying to fix our relationship, before we broke up, I stopped asking him for any help at all, because even if he said it was ok, I had no way of knowing if it was ok or it wasn't. (We're sort of back together, but still have the option of dating other people. That would totally end things between us. Neither of us moved out, because I'm from Ohio and if I move out, I want to go back there, and he REALLY doesn't want the kids and me to move that far away).

 

But maybe it is just the time to take him at his word, and try to force him to be honest about what's ok and what isn't. I tell him that my life would be easier if he'd say no to me sometimes, and he agrees with me in theory. But he says it's really hard for him to be that assertive. I keep telling him that right now, I'm the best person to practice on- what does he have to lose? lol

 

A little more background- he teaches (his "job" that produces regular income and requires regular work hours) about 25ish hours a week. And he teaches from home, so there's no commute. He spends a lot of time working on his music and his website. I'm 100% supportive of both endeavors, so it's not an issue for me that he spends a lot of time on that stuff. The website makes a little bit of money, and has huge potential. But even though he spends a lot of time working on them, he doesn't get a lot done because he's not that organized.

 

He does take care of the kids a lot (relative to the time he's upstairs with us). He gets them ready for bed if it's almost bedtime, he takes ds1 to school all the time, he takes ds2 to the grocery store sometimes so I have some "time off," lots of stuff like that. And I don't have to ask for any of that- he just does it. So in that sense, I feel lucky. He's a fantastic dad.


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#17 of 17 Old 04-03-2011, 09:15 AM
 
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First of all, full disclouse: I in this forum reading not because I am a SAHM right now - I work part-time at home - but because I am planning to take a year off next year and need ideas.

 

As I primary caregiver with a partner who works regular to long hours with a long commute, wow do I know what you're talking about. I personally have done a lot of work thinking about what my role means and what I want it to be like. Although my job training has the potential to be as lucrative (perhaps more) than DH's, it is our family choice for me to be primarily at home with our son. We both love our jobs (they are unconventional and creative) but I realized that I love and want to be the primary caregiver, and that I enjoy being at home in general, including the type of houeswork and "home management" type of work that comes with it. Okay. THAT BEING SAID, it does not work for us that I am the default on childcare when we are both home. It doesn't work for me, because it is overwhelming and I get resentful. It doesn't work for him, because he ends up feeling disconnected...and resentful. More than that, personal freedom changes for both partners after a child arrives. If that burden is placed only one partner, it creates imbalance in the relationship IMO. Maybe some honestly don't mind, but I personally have yet to meet anyone like that. It is not the "price" you have to pay for being the primary caregiver.

 

We have both done a lot of work changing this default which is all too easy to allow to just happen. The main thing I have done, and it against my nature, is to SAY SO loudly when he makes the assumption. If he were to say to me, "I am taking the dog for a walk," I would say, "What do you mean? What am I supposed to do? I am just supposed to stay here while you do whatever you want?" I do believe that partnership means sensitivity to each partner's particular needs. If he needs uninterrupted work time and you really don't, then your arrangement is fine. I know for us, DH needs more time out and socializing than I do. However, it sounds to me that your DH is making excuses. Working to help support the family may be non-negotiable, and mental health time doing something that one loves is necessary as well. But working on his music and website so he doesn't get depressed while you are the default caregiver? Those are avocations, not vocations. That kind of personal passion time needs to be given to BOTH partners. Talk openly about what being the primary caregiver means to you and why that is different in your view from being the default caregiver. Fill him in on the details of your day. He needs to know about the important work you are doing; it sounds like he doesn't understand that.

 

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Originally Posted by Tigerchild View Post

 

That being said, I think sometimes as women in particular we become overly hung up and resentful about "needing to ask", so we don't ask or arrange what we need, and then we get pissed that we're not getting it, and nobody hides that particularly well (resentment towards one's partner).

 

 

I disagree with this statement.The burden is not on the caregiver to arrange for personal time and freedom. The reality is, that s/he might need to assert her needs, but that is already coming from a point of imbalance. A partner who claims time for his work, hobbies, and personal outings should assume that his/her partner needs those things too. A person who does not treat his/her partner as he treats him/her self should expect resentment from his/her partner.


Me + DH + DS ('07) + after a long and bumpy road, thrilled that our twin boys are finally here (DS2 & DS3, '12)

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