L. contacted me for an Online Counseling relief and Relationship Advice session. She had reached a point in her relationship with her husband where she was just completely and thoroughly frustrated with him and the situation she found herself in. “My husband made the decision for me to quit my job based on the cost of daycare vs. my teaching salary. Also the fact that he did not want to have to dress and take them to daycare in the morning influenced his decision as well.” She began. “Now that he is the only one providing income he believes that everything concerning the house and kids is my responsibility.”
I listened to L. very intently as she describe her situation. I wanted to make sure I was in fact getting the whole picture before I jumped to any conclusions regarding her relationship and her partner. As a Psychologist I could not offer constructive advice that would allow her to build her relationship if I went in looking at the situation with any prejudices. L. went on to describe a scene similar to a TV show of the 40’s and 50’s. The ones where the father had a job and the mother took care of the house and kids. There is of course nothing wrong with this type of relationship and family setting “if” it’s what both partners desire. As a practical Life Coach, it was apparent however, as L. continued describing her situation, that she was not happy and that it was most definitely not what she wanted.
“We were fighting every night about who had to do the dishes or bathe the kids. I got tired of the bickering and didn't want the kids to hear us arguing over who "had" to give them a bath...so I came up with a schedule for every day of the week alternating dishes or bath. Each of us does one of these tasks while the other does the other and it alternates every night. It was fine for a few weeks...but now we are back to him saying that he does not understand why he has to give them a bath ever or do dishes. He should be able to come home, take a nap and play with the kids but that is where he believes his part of parenting responsibilities stops.” She paused here sighing in obvious exasperation then continued. “I have tried to explain to him that I need a little bit of down time too. Otherwise I was giving baths, getting kids in bed and doing dishes (and packing his lunches-another requirement) and not even sitting down until 9 while he is on the couch at 7. How do I get him to see that I “AM” busy during the day and that I deserve his help and to rest in the evenings too? What do I do to keep the peace and also get help? I feel like a single parent!”
L. did clarify one thing for me when I asked her about it. I was curious as to their partnership in taking care of the children on the weekends. “He gets mad if I leave him for even an hour with both kids awake in the evening or on the weekend. He expects me to take them both to the grocery store rather than letting me go when he is home....even though he would NEVER dream of taking them both with him.” At this point looking at the situation I had to agree with L. She was very much like a single parent who had a live-in part-time babysitter. I assured L. that I could certainly understand her frustration. “Whoever still holds traditional 19th century view of parental roles is either blind or just mistaken” I advised L.
I have no simple one line Relationship Advice to offer, I said, but through Marriage Counseling you both should certainly be able to remedy the situation. A structured guidance and counseling program along a 2-3 months period should allow you to do that, I informed her.
These are the three themes of the program:
A. Attitude change: how do you value and assess each other’s strengths and abilities; life aspirations and challenges.
B. Acquiring the right child rearing practices: hoe each parent can and should react and contribute to the children; what are the appropriate parental and gender role models?
C. Enriching marital communication, relationship, sexuality and mutual emotional growth.
Do not give up, I said; you both have a lot of work to do, but I’m sure you can handle it and even enjoy it. Since marriage is a reciprocal chain of behaviors, there are a lot of actions and behaviors that you could do that have the power to trigger your husband to transform his attitudes and parental style. Lead him to learn to enjoy his kids and help you both to enjoy each other in the process!
Dr. Joseph Abraham, Director, Center for Human Growth and Business Insights, Mechanicsburg, PA Tel 717-943.0959 A Psychologist, Online Life Coach, Marriage Counselor and Relationship Advice provider. Psychologist And Online Marriage Counseling and Relationship Advice And Life Coach Online Counseling