31 answers

Relationship Overhaul- Share Chores / Go Back to Work / Me Time

Ok my marriage has three areas I am stressing out about. First of all, is it normal for a husband to only help with dishes like twice a month? I don't like to push and nag and keep asking. He even helped design a chore chart with the family, and agreed to do these things daily, but he doesn't. Yes, of course I have asked him in clear, polite, terms many times.

Second, should I go back to work to get some "me" time? Another plus would be that he would be the one to watch the kids while I worked part time. I would love for him to see what it's like. Turn the tables you know, and then I could be the one to come home from work and say, "What have you been doing all day?!!" Yeah, I'm a little bitter. Yes, I have expressed this to him.

Third problem and the second are intertwined. How do you go about arranging a 2-day weekend for "me" time if you don't have any money to "get away?"

I am looking forward to school starting up again so I can decompress a little about all this.

I would like to clarify what I mean when I wrote in the above section "I don't like to push and nag and keep asking." It means I DON'T do it. I never nag because I don't want to be in that position.

Also I would like to clarify a little about his job. He is a sales rep. He sets his own hours. He DOES work very hard, is good at what he does. I appreciate what he does very much, and I tell him so often. Here is what is beginning to make me resentful: he gets up when he wants. He comes home when he wants. He doesn't answer to anyone when he is working because his supervisors are long-distance. He can have lunch when and where he wants. He can (and does) take a break in the middle of his day when he wants and go to a matinee. He can incorporate (and often does) a dayhike into his day when he wants. ALL OF THIS IS FINE WITH ME--or was--EXCEPT THAT HE DOESN'T HELP ME GET THE SAME BREAKS. He drives to different cities and gets lots of alone time that way. He doesn't know what it's like to go through a whole day and never be able to complete a thought because of all the interruptions.

I have been the sole provider for our family before, working fulltime, so I know how much harder this SAHM gig is.

I would also like to clarify that when he says, "What have you been doing all day?!" That comment is preceded by comments about how messy the house is. Why isn't the laundry done. Why aren't the dishes done. Could I please get the dishes done for once.

I would also like to clarify that his mother is a professional organizer. She has all of Don Aslett's books memorized.

The four of us are living in 1,000 square feet. I have never complained about this to him because it would just be complaining and make things worse and make him feel bad that he can't earn more. However, it simply IS more difficult to keep the house looking nice and tidy when we are so cramped.

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Thank you, everyone for all of your great insight and suggestions. You made me cry, because I have felt so alone. It is so nice to know that someone understands. Thank you.

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My husband and I have gone to sharing chores and switching weekly. It's an amazing thing!!! Laundry vs dishes. So there's an end in sight for each chore, and not doing it forever!!!

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I understand how you feel. I have raised five children. I used to whine and complain about what my husband did around the house. One day I realized how much he was doing for our family. Every morning he was up at 6:00 a.m. to get ready for work even when he didn't feel like it. My job was to take care of the children and make a home environment that he would like to return to. I realized that even I wouldn't want to come home to what I had created. I wasn't even the type of person I would want to be a friend with. As I changed things improved. It was interesting to see how much control I had over the situation and how much I was the problem. I had always thought it was his entirely his fault for how things were.

Don't go back to work. It will only leave your children without a mother and you with less time to yourself. He knows you are bitter but does he know that you love him and appreciate what he does do? The more he hears it the more he will do.

I have been married for almost 32 years. Experience has taught me that my husband is as good as I think he is. When I remember that I picked him to be my husband and the father of my children he shines. When I focus on his faults and complain he isn't so great. My behavior controls the mood of our home. Sure, I would love not to do the dishes every meal but he would love not to go to work every day and have the freedom to choose like I do.

You have the power. Be grateful you have dishes to do. My friend that lost her husband in a car accident would love to trade places with you. Good luck!

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I am sad that so many of these posts aren't more encouraging and that think men are lazy and don't want to be helpful. For the most part, it is just about helping them understand the need, both around the house and for your physical/mental/spiritual well being. Most of our guys grew up in homes where men did NO chores or helped out; their moms did it all. So much of what we, in general, struggle with in our marriages are expectations from our families of origin. It is about helping them learn that there is something different and it gives us all better time at home and with each other. My husband and I have dealt with this and will continue to struggle through it as long as there are dirty dishes and laundry. :) When we first get home, or when he gets home on the days I am home, we get options. I will say "would you like to empty the dishwasher or get the laundry started?" That way he can choose and I didn't force him into it. Once those tasks are done, we move to the next 2. He also picked 2 things that he is always in charge of (okay, I picked the garbage for him but he picked vacuuming). I don't get after him at all about doing those things. But if one of them needs to be done, I make it one of the options. He gets the hint without feeling nagged at. And something that is so important is to find something you love to do; scrapbooking, soccer, reading, sewing, any craft, any workout/exercise activity. Then schedule time to do it. Find someone to do it with. Then encourage your husband to do the same. Encourage him to spend time with friends doing constructive things or being creative. It is a win for everyone. And going back to work is your and your husband's decision. Just make sure that you are doing it for the right reasons and not as a last resort to get some "me" time. If your husband can be home with the kids during that time, that is a great way to build bonds between him and the kids. Dads play with kids in such a differnet way and it is so good for everyone. I would love to scrapbook with you if you are in the Aurora area. Another great resource is "Love and Respect" by Emerson Eggerichs; there is so much good relationship stuff it there. Best of luck and it will get better.

I first have to say I don't agree with a lot of the feedback you are getting. I am a full time working mom and I would love to be able to stay home with our child more. However, I also enjoy my time at work to relate with other adults and have a sense of accomplishment outside of taking care of our child. It helps me to create a balance in my life which in turn makes me more appreciative of the time I have with my husband and daughter. I also have a husband who works full time and in order for us to get things taken care of around our household it takes both of us sharing the work. As one other responder noted, one person can watch the children while the other cooks dinner. We practice this on a regular basis and take turns doing the chores and watching our 10 month old daughter. It gives both of us one on one time with our baby and also helps to get the work done more timely so we can also have some time for a walk in the evening together. It's all about balance. I think it's great if you want some variety and would like to go to work a couple of days a week. If it helps to change your perspective on your situation and also encourages your husband to pitch in then go for it. As a full time working mom, sometimes I feel husbands get cut too much slack because they work full time. Give me a break. There are plenty of mom's out there that work full time, too, and they're still relied upon to come home, take care of the kids, cook dinner, clean the house, etc. Men can be held accountable to pitch in, too.

My husband and I have gone to sharing chores and switching weekly. It's an amazing thing!!! Laundry vs dishes. So there's an end in sight for each chore, and not doing it forever!!!

Hi there,
I can relate to your current situation. A couple of questions come up for me. How do you go about taking 'me time' now? Would taking a job give you 'me-time' or time away to focus on a career or get you 'away' from your current position?
Does your husband take his 'me time'. does he ask for it or does he take it? if he takes it, you do the same. Let your husband know you made plans for 'x' night or day and he will have to watch the kids. women tend to care take for everyone in the family while avoiding themselves; this is not good for anyone.
the other thing, If finding a job will bring about time away and me time as well as a little extra money; then it seems like a win/win situation. again, what is your motivation or your intention behind getting a job (escape or growth; possibly both)
Are you stating your needs clearly when it comes to house hold upkeep?
your husband's integrity is out of line, he's living up to the 'do as I say; not as I do.' or 'these rules apply to everyone but me.' which sets up a poor example for the kids. How can the family hold him accountable to the tasks he says he's going to do? make it fun and real. what are the consequences for the children who don't participate in daily living? what are the reasons he doesn't do it; do you pick up the slack? what if you didn't do it for him? (assuming you do). why would he do it if he knows you will. Make it clear that you will do your duties and no one elses (otherwise, you build up resentment) Making your boundaries clear can be very rewarding. It may cause some upheaval (change) for a time; but humans are very adaptive. you've got to have 'staying power' in your boundaries and remain consistent.
where does it say that women who 'stay at home' do not get to go out. there is an underlying theme that many women feel because they are not financial contributors. It has been researched that if a mom got paid for the hours she put in, it would be well into 6 figures. How are the guidelines for the family established; are the out in the open or just assumed that you don't get any time b/c you don't make the money? what are the beliefs around money, house, rearing the children? are you and your husband on the same page? just a few things that come up for me. Good luck with this. It also sounds like you are going to school to get back out in the work force soon or at lease get away and grow. good for you.

You might start with some reading - a little education can go along way. John Grey's Mars and Venus books offer great advice on how to communicate with a man as well as insight into what womwn really need - seriously this man has nailed it. The other is Mama Gena. Regina Thomaschauer is amazing.
The other thing to remember, like it or not you are the one witht the problem - it doesn't sound like he is worked up - you are. What is your division of labor? Does he bring home the bacon? If he is the sole financial provider why does he have to go do his job and then come home and do part of "your" job? I'm not saying he shouldn't help with the kids (they are his too, aren't they?) and the house but probably doesn't get all your bitching and nagging. It won't get you where you want to be so knock that off. Get the books and see what happens.

J S, I feel your pain. In the 12 years I've been married, my husband has done the dishes MAYBE 1/2 a dozen times. He isn't big on cleaning bathrooms or sweeping floors. I worked full time (60-80 hours a week) for a long time and the only thing he would do was HIS laundry. Not mine or the kids. Needless to say, I was pretty frustrated myself. Finally, I received some good advice and started to practice looking at the things he did that were good and "right" in my eyes. He loves our children. He doesn't spend hours playing catch or helping with homework, but he listens to them, he tickles them, and he shows them love. He works HARD for our family to provide. He doesn't go out with his friends much, he wants to be home with our family. And, he does take out the garbage. :) It made a huge difference for me to stop looking at all the things he did that would upset and frustrate me and start looking at the things he does that are good and sweet. It was hard at first because I was very bitter. But it was well worth the effort of looking. Also, start complimenting him when he does something you like. He'll be more proned to do it again or even do more to make you happy.
As far as going back to work, don't do it! My kids tell me time and time again that they would rather have me home and not have all the extra money. (They are 16, 12 and 5 and they have had it both ways). And I REALLY miss that I was not there when my older ones were little. I can't get the time back. Only go back to work if you absolutely can't get by financially. Keep your priorities straight... your children and the time you have with them are irreplacable.
As time for yourself. I used to put my kids to bed and go walking with a good friend at night. It was a great way to get some girl talk and relax without the family. Good "me time". I also would catch a dollar movie here and there. I love to read. Tell your honey to take the kids to Micky D's for and icecream and playland time for an hour and take a hot bubble bath with a good book. (I did this at least once a month). There are ways to get time in for youself.
I am sorry this is kinda long. I do tend to ramble. (smile) In closing, keep in mind that your honey isn't a cleaner. He probably never has been and never will be. It is frustrating, I know. But, love him for the good things he does. It will help, I promise. Good luck and my thoughts and prayer will be with you!

I am a stay at home mom of a 3yr old, 16yr old and one due in October and I have to say that I do not agree with most these posts. Just because you are a stay at home mom does mean you are solely responsible for the house. Yes your husband works very hard and gets up early to head off to work when he does not want to, but what about you? Do you get to clock out at 5pm and leave it all behind? Do you get to call in sick? Being a stay at home mom is hard because it is a 24 hour a day job without any time off.

If you feel like you need a break then take one. A part time job once or twice a week will not hurt your kids and if you getting a change of scenery helps you mentally cope with the stress of life then it is well worth the changes your kids will have to deal with. It will be good for them to see you take care of yourself. You need to find something for you or you can lose yourself in trying to be everything for your family. Do not wait until you are so lost in your mommy/wife role that you forgot why you wanted to be one in the first place.

I think part of the problem is that your dear Hubby does not realize how hard you work and what all a SAHM does. I made a calendar and wrote out (honestly) what I did each day. He was really surprised at how much responsibility I had each day. I think it finally openned his eyes that this was a job and often a thankless one.

I would suggest that you start a hobby with a friend that is just yours. I would suggest that you meet a friend somewhere other than your house at first. Having someone else count on you makes it easier to not just "skip it until next week" and being out of the house keeps the kids from distracting you.

Pick something that interestes you, I took up scrapbooking, but my best friend took up Roller Derby. We each have our night(s) that is just ours and the kids, chores and dinner are dad's responsiblity. Yes, the kids probably have mac and cheese and ice cream every Thursday, but they will be fine. I love scrapbooking because it can be cheap and it gives me my own time, but it also lets me go through all my old memories to remind of why I love my family in the first place.

If you are in Longmont and want to try scrapbooking with us, let me know we would love to have you.

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