[RELATIONSHIP] Is Your Wife Mad at Dad?

We at THE FATHER LIFE were recently alerted to a blog post at momlogic.com by Alicia Hagan. It’s an interesting read, and it seems to have resonated with some of the other moms in the momlogic community.  As it turns out, many wives are mad at their husbands… and we probably don’t even realize it.  Read Alicia’s blog post below, then stay tuned for a response from our own marriage expert, Cory Huff, with some pointers on how to remedy just such a situation!

Alicia says:

Yesterday I read Parenting magazine’s “Mad at Dad” article and couldn’t have felt more relieved.

The night before, my husband and I had a 1 1/2 hour ‘conversation’ about what I consider to be a serious lack of help from him lately… like for the past year. Him not helping me with everyday chores and taking care of the kids has taken a toll on me over the last year to the effect of being on anxiety medication and an anti-depressant. I don’t take being on medication lightly as I prefer to deal with things more naturally and with communication, but that obviously wasn’t working.

My husband will walk right past the kids laundry, which is mentioned in the article. Amazing! I was sure it was just me expecting too much of him. It turns out that 4 out of 10 moms, according to the article, experience the same frustrations I do and for the same reasons.

My husband doesn’t help with the kids’ laundry, feeds them the same thing everyday when he’s home with them, doesn’t remember to have our 9 year old do his homework, wouldn’t give the kids a bath or brush their teeth if I didn’t ask. I could go on but I won’t.

One thing I was very relieved and surprised to see in the article was that there are other moms who don’t want to ask or tell their husbands to do something. Again, my husband and I talked about that very issue last the night before I read the article. I told him that I feel like I’m his mother when I have to ask or tell him what to do, and that is not a good feeling to have about my husband, the man I’m supposed to be intimate with!
I want equality without having to ask for it. I want him to want to help me because he knows his help will help with my anxiety levels, not be so stressed and consequently may be able to stop taking prescription drugs for the ridiculous anxiety attacks I have because I feel like I have to do EVERYTHING!

Just as the moms in the article state, I love my husband. He is my best friend and he and I laugh together. These reasons, I guess, are why I have let things get this way.

The strangest thing is that he seems oblivious to why I get worked up about the laundry or the dishes. Yes, these are little things, but for a mom who runs a business from home, takes care of two kids (9 & 2), and has to keep the house presentable, prepare and clean up after meals, bathe the kids, help with homework, do laundry, and be available to take business phone calls, having him help with the kids’ laundry, or give them a bath means A LOT!

I am going to stop here because ranting about it isn’t going to change things. He has to want to work with me and that is what I need to focus my energy on. How do I get him to do that?

The biggest thing that sticks out in Alicia’s post is a lack of husband – wife communication.  They love each other and have a great friendship, but for some reason the message that Alicia needs more help around the house just isn’t getting through.  We asked Cory Huff, from aGoodHusband.net, for some communication pointers and some direct advice for husbands and wives caught in the cycle of frustration:

HOW TO COMMUNICATE NEEDS

Timing. There’s a time and a place to communicate needs.  Trying to have a conversation with your husband about his marital & parental obligations in the middle of the 4th quarter of a football game, or during an intense game of Halo 3 on Xbox Live is probably not good timing.  Telling your wife that you want to have a guy’s night when she’s in the middle of preparing the kids to head out for school – same idea.  Get rid of distractions.

Verbal. Telling your spouse you have a need works well for some.  Their spouse hears that there’s a need and they go to fulfill it.  This doesn’t work too well for me as I am often in a rush or distracted, and when I’m not it’s usually late at night and I don’t process very well.  For my wife, however, it works out great.  There will be many times when she does something nice for me and I will ask how she knew to do that, and she’ll tell me that she remembered me saying it – in passing, a week ago!  I am terrible at that sort of thing, but it works well for her.

In Writing. Many times my wife will ask me to do something multiple times and I just forget.  I’m not a verbal reminder kind of person.  I need it in front of me, so I will ask her to email it to me.  At first, it seemed rather silly for her to email me her needs, but the email honey-do lists give me easy, task oriented steps to take in order to fulfill my wife’s needs, and I can take care of the list early in the morning when I’m full of energy and awake.  If it’s something that needs to be done later, I will set a reminder on my cellphone or write a note to put in my pocket.

Show. Sometimes when my wife has done something that she feels is deserving of praise, she will take me by the hand and show me what she did.  She’ll do the same when something is broken and needs fixing.  I see the thing, realize that it’s broken, and I know, because she took the time to take me there, that it is important to her as well.

HOW TO UN-FRUSTRATE A FRUSTRATED LIFE

Men like to fix things.  Part of what makes them feel accomplished in a marriage is being able to attend to his wife’s needs.  Both men and women run in to issues if there is not clear communication about needs.  If a husband does not know about a problem, he can’t fix it.

Some women will complain that their husband shouldn’t have to be told that he should be helping out around the house.  I agree, but you should keep this in mind:

Unless they’re told that it’s broke (and told in a way that they recognize as being told), they will think everything is fine and they needn’t do anything.  You probably didn’t think your guy was lazy when you married him.  He didn’t become lazy, he just hasn’t recognized the changing priority.

Sometimes very efficient wives intimidate their husbands.  I know plenty of men who have told me that they have tried to do laundry, feed the children, or clean the house, but failed.  Why did they fail?  Because when their wives found out how they were going about those chores, they freaked out.  For some men, it becomes easier to just do nothing rather than risk getting yelled at for trying to help.

These two points aside, men should realize that when it comes to the house, the responsibility is equally there between both parties.

In short, guys, you should be looking around for ways you can help your wife out.  Find the right time, and then ask her, in a way that she understands, what you can do to help her.  Then find a way to make sure that you remember it.  Ladies, you should be communicating with your man when there are not distractions present, and outside of emotionally charged moments.  Learning these tricks will help a great deal with un-frustrating your life.

Image by: David Peter Hansen, SXC

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9 Responses to “[RELATIONSHIP] Is Your Wife Mad at Dad?”

  1. Anonymous
    February 11, 2009 at 12:40 pm #

    Im a father and husband and i try to do everything written here. My wife has been going to school, studing in the morning and then going to school in the afternoon. She has been on me about doing more around the house. I know she is stressed from school and wanting to go back to work. And when the house needs cleaning she cant study or leave to study somewhere else before she cleans. I know what she wants but i dont have enough time in the day it seems. I wake up and fix breackfast for the kids and myself, often time for her as well. Get the kids bathed and dressed and out the door for school. I have been putting aside 1 hour at the Gym for myself either in the morn or after work. I work 9-5 and between there i pick up the kids and take them to my moms house were i finish my work day untill 5 and go home to make dinner because my wife doesent get home untill 7pm. i usually get home btwn 6-630 get dinner ready and eat soon as she walks in. I try to wash dishes as i go but i dont get all of them. I take out the trash when im done in the kitchen. But she still finds time to complain???
    I know she does laundry while im at work. So when we both get home there 2-3 loads waiting for us to put away. And at 830 at night i usaully dont want to put clothes away.
    I have even been fixing lunch/snacks for school for her. She always finds times to say things when im walking out the door or call me when im at work.

    I feel she lets things really get to her. I cant see that im trying really hard pulling more weight then she see’s. She starting to say some really mean things and it makes me really want to fight back.

    Our house is not really dirty or filthy, It just needs constant picking up. Am i wrong to tell her that its always gonna be like this. Do your house stay clean after you clean up. I have 2 kids and people dropping by everyother day isnt it normal to feel it being a constant battle to keep it clean?

  2. cory @ AGoodHusband.net
    February 11, 2009 at 7:21 pm #

    Anonymous – my heart goes out to you, man. It’s tough. I’ve seen a bunch of times. When I was in college, I had friends who were in medical school, law school, or other programs that were married with kids. It’s no easy situation. That said, it sounds like you and your wife are doing the best you can to provide for your kids and to better your future.

    It sounds to me like it’s a matter of expectations. You can run yourself ragged serving other people, but if they’re not getting their most important needs met, then they won’t be happy.

    Sit down with your wife (devote an hour to this conversation – make it a priority, put it in your calendars in advance) and discuss your feelings. Don’t accuse, just tell her how you feel, then tell you want to help, you understand where she’s coming from, and you need to know what her most important needs are. Make sure that she understands that she needs to focus on just the core needs. With both of you being so busy, some less important things will have to fall by the wayside. That’s okay.

    Usually for really busy couples, you can have a great relationship by making sure that most important 2 or 3 things are done. For example, I make sure the kitchen is clean, that I pray with my wife each morning, and that I always follow through on what I commit to. For her, she tells me she loves me when I ask, she cooks when she can, and we have regular dates.

    It will be different for everyone, but I hope that helps. Stop back by The Father Life or AGoodHusband.net and let us know how it goes!

  3. Laurie
    February 12, 2009 at 10:59 pm #

    If you don’t want your wife to be mad at you–and you know how unpleasant that can be–just remember 3 things:

    1) It only takes one minute to take the garbage out, so just DO it
    2) If it’s no big deal, (like putting away the milk, feeding the dog, wiping down the sink, putting a dish in the dishwasher) then please just DO it … it would make us soooo happy!
    3) We wouldn’t have to NAG you if you would just DO it!

  4. Andy
    February 12, 2009 at 11:52 pm #

    @Anonymous: One thing that has helped my wife, my children and myself out is that we all have chores. We all have specific schedules for specific days of the week. This way, we all have responsibilities and roles and know who is responsible for what.

    Don’t get me wrong. We came to this conclusion after many, many, many discussions. But my wife and I were willing to sit down, together, and work through our challenges. This discussion has helped immensely.

    We plan our months together. This has definitely opened the doors of communication. I wish you well.

  5. tim howington
    February 18, 2009 at 10:33 pm #

    enjoyed the post.. I actually linked to it on my site.. http://www.thehowitzerrants.com

  6. JohnMcG
    February 25, 2009 at 3:47 pm #

    @Laurie,

    Sorry, not it wouldn’t. At least not in all cases.

    Doing those things didn’t make my wife soooo happy. In fact, I think they frustrated her because it made it harder for her to take her anger out on me.

  7. Amanda S
    March 27, 2009 at 2:10 pm #

    This advice is really going to help, thanks.

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