The Husband Factor

A recent post by Mike and Heather Spohr dealing with working from home at Huffington Post made me a chuckle.  I’ve followed their main blog, “The Spohrs are Multiplying”  for years since their oldest daughter, Maddie, was just days older than my son.  Since they’ve become parents, they’ve both been able to experience what it’s like to work outside the home, stay home, and work from home.  I’m envious that both of them are on the same page and both realize that none of the options are full of sunshine and roses.

My husband, Mike, God love him — he doesn’t seem to ‘get’ what I do.  Sure, he takes the random checks that appear from my various schools and deposits them (yes, they are online schools but not all of them are fancy enough for direct deposit — go figure!), but as far as the time commitment and trying to balance the kids (and everything else) with my job, I don’t feel like he really has any idea.  He goes to work.  I work — take care of the house, kids, and manage the rest of our lives as well.  I often find myself wishing that he could work at home too — even if just for a few days — to see what all of my fuss is about — and why I daydream about the idea of an eight hour work day with a half-hour for lunch.

When the kids ask to do something and Mike says that he can’t because he has to work.  Or when other family members explain that they have to go home because they have to work tomorrow – I often want to shout – “I have to work too!” My work often feels like it is shoved under the rug, as I  do manage to squeeze work into the cracks of my day – in order to maximize my time to do all the things.  While I feel like I deserve an Olympic gold most days for managing to work and deal with all of the chaos of home and everything else, since others don’t see me donning work clothes and heading to a specific job, it feels like my job doesn’t even exist to the rest of society — I know, I’ve waxed on about this before

I feel like those with very supportive and understanding husbands — like Heather Spohr or even our own, Brandy, have a leg up on those of us who, like me, just don’t feel like their husband understands the work that is done both at paying jobs and in the home.  However, even if Mike could work from home he still wouldn’t do all of the things that I do — both because he doesn’t care about many of the things and because I’ve always been the one to take care of all of the things.

I’ve read books about the idea of a 50/50 marriage and parenting and while ultimately that is something I strive for, it just isn’t a reality in my life.  At least not currently.  Maybe I need to do more to bring Mike on-board.  Maybe Mike needs to buck up and do the planning for the next birthday party (ha!).  Maybe I need more outside help and support.  Maybe it isn’t a husband issue at all — maybe I just need to give up my desire to do all of the things.

My question to all moms – WAHM, WOHM, SAHM – is do you feel like your husband “gets” and supports what you do?  Do you need them to?  What role does your husband play in your success at balancing all of the things?

***Disclaimer: This reads like I’m throwing my husband under the bus — but he’s aware that I feel this way.  We just haven’t really figured out what to do about it — if anything. ***

Photo Credit Ed Yordon via Flickr

15 Comments

  • Honestly, I think Mr. Sandwich “gets” what I do better than I do.
    Tragic Sandwich recently posted..TV and UsMy Profile
    Twitter: tragicsandwich

  • Allison says:

    This is a hard one. There are certainly things that matter to me if they get done and do not matter to my husband (and vice versa). I do think that if one spouse does not care you cannot really expect them to take over a task that is important to you (like a birthday party – my husband does not really care if we have birthday parties, but I do, so I cannot really expect him to take over). I also think it is pretty common that most couples have not both stayed home, worked, worked at home, etc, so we don’t really “get it” when it comes to the life the other person has. I work about 30 hrs a week but my husband works way, way more. Sometimes I feel like he does not understand all the stuff that happens in the hours while he is gone but I don’t understand what it is like to hardly see our kids during the week.

    Have you read John Gottman’s books? They might be helpful in figuring out how to deal with some of your disagreements/misunderstanding about work load, etc.

  • Kendra says:

    First of all, kudos to you for writing such a personal post. Everyone knows sharing the niddy griddy from the world of marriage is very sensitive and personal. I do wish more people shared but I get why they don’t. I think you laid all of this out very eloquently and honestly.

    My husband and I have always worked full-time outside of the home. In fact, before we had kids he even went back to school and I carried the majority of the financial load. After he finished school he was behind the curve on the career front while I was miles ahead. I still make significantly more than my husband and that can make me feel trapped and resentful because I can’t make any moves at this time because we’d lose the income.

    As for work/life balance? As far as I’m concerned it is an even playing field (despite the income difference). We both put in the same amount of hours and we both share the home responsibilities. I drop off our son at daycare, he picks up. We switch off bath night, take turns cooking, etc. We both do chores and grocery shop. We take turns every regarding who has the baby monitor on their side of the bed and is “on duty” that night if our little man wakes up. We have a morning routine for getting everyone out the door and an evening routine for when we are all home.

    Neither one of us is doing it all because neither one of us should have to. We both work our butts off and we both totally have each other’s backs. 50/50 is the idea but even that can feel like “keeping score” and resentment can build. I’ve started to learn that marriage and parenting is 100% from both parties and I’ve let go of the 50/50 mentality (even though in some cases it applies) because we are both in this together and I know I couldn’t do any of it without him. It isn’t always easy and we definitely have days where we win and days where we lose but I know we are ultimately on the same page.

    I know that wasn’t very helpful advice but I just thought I’d share how we operate.
    Kendra recently posted..There is not enough coffee in the world…My Profile

  • Brandy says:

    First off, honored by the shout out. Much love. I think we have an advantage of being so 50/50 because we are “the same”. We went to school together…work at the same place…make pretty much the same salary….work the same hours. It makes us equal (though i have an extra degree..HEYO). Of all those, I think same work hours is HUGE. Before Oliver, it was same everything. Drop off, pick up. All. I don’t have to get angry when he works late and can’t get home for dinner. It never happens. We get home and hit the ground running. One holds the baby and one plays in the driveway with the older one. One sits at the table and one puts the baby to bed. This is also why 3 scares the ever living shit out of me. Zone defense? FUCK THAT. :) We really divide and conquer.

    All that being said, I still probably do more with the stuff like you mention. I plan parties, halloween costumes, photo shoots, play dates because it is what I want. I also see those as the first to go when things get crazy. I also know that when I feel like I am doing more than my share, I can speak up and ask for help. Maybe it is because I went batty after both boys and he knows I need a break or we all go down? I dunno but he is happy to help and it makes me love him more. Adding Ollie has been a trip but I can honestly say I think daily “I am so lucky” because if I had to do anymore, I would need more meds.

    P.S. I am drinking…I hope this makes sense.
    Brandy recently posted..Smart SnackingMy Profile
    Twitter: mannlymama

    • Jamie says:

      Brandy — as you mention the fact that most things are the same for you and your husband — I think that would be ideal for me. Mike and I both have such different jobs that it isn’t the same at all and I think that makes the resentment build in me sometimes.

      I think women do tend to do more of the birthday parties, Christmas cards, etc. and I probably do have unrealistic expectations for myself regarding these types of things which definitely doesn’t help matters!
      Jamie recently posted..Halloween FunMy Profile

  • Allison says:

    I totally hear you – I freelance from home and work a job share half the week – and there’s no daycare when I’m home freelancing. And I make all the dinners and my husband is in night classes, so I’m handling the bulk of the evening chores. It’s frustrating because my husband really has no clue how hard it is – he just sees it as me getting to stay home and play with the girls and teases me that I “like” doing all the laundry because I insist on getting it done each week. But there’s no way to get him to understand without switching roles and there is no practical way to do that. And, if I’m being honest, I can’t understand what his day is like either – I mean I know it is stressful (FT job and MBA course load is no cakewalk) but it’s hard because the days that I’m in the office are SO MUCH easier than the days when I’m working from home. And its not just the hubs – i wish others would “get it” as well – my days at home are not days “off.” I guess I don’t really have a solution or advice to offer – just sympathy from another mama who knows what it’s like.

    • Jamie says:

      I think you say it best when you say that “my days at home are not days “off”.” ABSOLUTELY. I think it often assumed that since I’m home it’s easy-cheesy. Not so much!! ;) Your setup sounds a lot like mine as far as balancing work and all the things.
      Jamie recently posted..Halloween FunMy Profile

  • cayley says:

    This is a mom thing, I think. My husband doesn’t understand the logistics that I have to sort out, or otherwise won’t get done. I’m lucky that he cleans and splits a lot of child care responsibility, but when I am not traveling for work (like Lenses, I am the breadwinner and cannot contemplate changing jobs or reducing hours, etc.) I am really the primary caregiver, and certainly the only one who makes sure there is food in the house for dinner every night. I work outside the home, but still have this problem. I was actually told when I had my baby that no matter how much dad’s will share the work, as a mom I’d be doing more and I’d just have to accept that, keep it to myself or it would corrode the marriage. I think there’s a lot of truth in all of that.

  • We made a list of what needs doing around the house regularly and split up things based on how long they take to do (and who hates doing it generally got to choose something else). I’m in school and the spouse has a day job so our schedules are similar but mine is more flexible so somehow when things aren’t getting done, I’m expected to pick up the slack and it annoys the pants off me. That said, we’ve accepted that things aren’t ever going to be “equal” but that’s life. On days when I have some big school thing happening and the kid is sick, the spouse has to stay home and I actually leave at the time the spouse usually does (earlier than normal for me) so it’s more like “a day at home” than some artificial deal where we’re both around to manage the whiny sick kid. We also make an effort when we’re planning a thing (kid’s birthday party for example) to make a list of what needs doing for it and then split that. The dividing takes a long time and relies on both of us getting our part accomplished, so it never works perfectly but we’re both reasonably all right with how it works out. Right now we’re in a “but you never did your part, so I won’t do mine either” rut and the house is a disaster. I hope it will improve soon when we both are less stressed.
    Ms. Future PharmD recently posted..Choosing to be a working momMy Profile
    Twitter: MomPharmD

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