Dear Amy: My husband and I have been married for six years. We have two children — ages one and five. I struggle feeling like I’m supported at home.
Most days I get up with the kids and start getting them ready for school. My husband will sleep in and either get up on his own, or I’ll wake him up.
I really don’t want to have to add “get husband out of bed” to my morning routine, but that’s what I’ve been doing.
He doesn’t think it’s a big deal — I can just “get him up earlier” if I want his help earlier in the morning.
For me this is just a microcosm of our household — I do the work by default. If I want his participation, I need to coordinate his involvement. He says I don’t give him enough credit for the things he does, and it’s true that we do split some work evenly.
Still, this makes me feel as if I need to not only do the heavy lifting by default and work to get him involved, but then also make him feel like a rock star for getting up with the baby once in a while.
It feels like my work is invisible and his work is not. Clearly neither of us is able to be unbiased about our role in the home.
I feel like he is a “fair weather dad” — helpful when the work is easy, scarce when it’s hard. For me, it’s killed my attraction to him, and I just feel annoyed basically all the time.
How do I shift my perspective so I can live in peace and be content with what I have? — Overworked Mom
Dear Overworked: Well, you could work hard to try to shift your perspective, but that would be yet another chore on your “to-do” list.
You are describing a fairly common dynamic within traditional two-parent families, and although this balance seems to be shifting, women often become the “shefault” (default) parent. Yes, your built-up resentment over feeling like your husband’s “mommy” has affected your relationship, because it’s a big lift to feel in charge of everyone — and then want to have sex with the person who can’t even manage to wake himself up in the morning.
Your husband feels resentful, too. He sees his participation as a special event, and you aren’t giving him enough extra credit. He probably works hard, too — but at things other than parenting.
Author Eve Rodsky has come up with a useful way for busy parents to reframe their households. As a professional mediator for high-powered families (and a frustrated “shefault” parent of young kids), she realized that some of the tools she used at work could be applied to her messy home life. Her book, “Fair Play: A Game-Changing Solution for When You Have Too Much to Do (and More Life to Live)” (2019, G.P. Putnam’s Sons) breaks down child and household roles in a new way, and “gamifies” it so that couples can negotiate their own solutions.
Dear Amy: You get letters from folks who wonder if they should apologize for bullying they took part in when they were children.
Well, I just got one of those “apologies” and the answer is NO! They should not.
In my “apology,” the bully detailed one incident as an example of how mean he was and to explain what he’s sorry for.
He included the ugly names he called me, so, the “apology” dredged up all the old hurt and I got to experience it all over again.
Thanks, but no thanks. Leave it in the past where it belongs.
I don’t need to be feeling like this today, just so he can feel better about himself.
My story is not unique. — Bullied
Dear Bullied: Abusers sometimes use the “apology” mechanism to reoffend. It sounds as if in this case the person who bullied you was mainly seeking to alleviate his own guilt.
There is a way to acknowledge and apologize without triggering past hurt. True humility and tenderness is called for.
Dear Amy: Thank you, for your response to “Bad Friend,” whose bestie had twin babies and seemed to complain a lot about it.
You were so right to point out how overwhelming the twin experience can be. And, like you, I wondered if this new mom was suffering from postpartum depression. — Mom of Twins
Dear Mom: This new mother deserves tons of TLC, help with her babies, and -- a better friend.