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!
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
Ben Martin is the CEO of THE FATHER LIFE. He lives with his wife and five children in the Rochester, NY, area.