My Husband is Not One of My Children

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When I married my husband, I expected, and received a partner. Someone who would run the house as my equal and when it came to it, take care of our children. Sometimes we can’t be 50/50 and that’s ok within reason. But it’s not all the time, it’s not for less quality and it certainly isn’t the standard.

I’m not sure where this idea started. Certainly all of humanity has not exclusively been divided into perpetual gender roles. There were no incidents of daddy Neanderthals, holding a poopy infant, confused and disheveled, with a laugh track in the background.

Maybe I’m just generalizing the things I see and hear in mom groups. But maybe I’m not.

I saw a big eye roll meme about how husbands do chores “incorrectly” so they won’t be asked to do them again. Incorrectly? My husband certainly does chores differently than I would but as long as dishes get cleaned and water doesn’t get wasted, that’s his deal. I trust he will do what needs to be done.

Recently, I was at an event and without a word from a couple, a dad excused himself to go change his child. An older woman asked his wife, “How did you get that to happen?”

Uh, it’s his kid? Why wouldn’t he go change his diaper?

What almost bothers me more about her genuine confusion about a dad changing diapers is what it reflects from her own marriage and children.

My husband and I both understand that the other needs time for themselves, and time together, without our children. We understand that it’s necessary and we work to make sure that this happens for us. I take girls’ time, my husband goes on bike tours. I go backpacking, my husband goes out for a beer. We make date time a priority.

But when I’m out by myself:

“Is your husband babysitting?”

“No.”

“Where’s your kid?”

“With my husband”

Que quizzical look, but my husband is not babysitting. Babysitters turn on the TV and make cookies and do things that are fun and novelty. My husband keeps a consistent household for our daughter. I do not expect to come home to a naked toddler covered in pudding and a disheveled house (well, no more than usual). There are plenty of TV shows that show how hilarious it is when dad is in charge, but this should not be an expectation of real life. Part of that expectation needs to be the respect we hold for dads. 

I did not marry my husband so that I could have a practice baby or a forever child. I am here to take care of him just as much as he is there to take care of me.But it is not as his mother, it’s as his partner. We each hold our own roles in our household, ready to switch or take over if needed. These roles were and are continuously discussed so each of us remains comfortable and we view our roles as fair. The same goes for child rearing. We aim to keep consistent expectations, which means we discuss, all the time, what values and boundaries we intend to hold for our children.

I know life is not a sitcom. It is not one of my favorite shows where hi-jinks are the result of lack of communication. We’re adults, we talk. So why is there still an idea that dads are incapable goof-balls that somehow get it together just at the end, right in time for the important message?  

“It’s so great your husband is involved”

Yeah, it is great. It’s also what I expect.

 

4 COMMENTS

  1. You’re very lucky to have a man show up this way. It is too what I expected & unfortunately not what I got. My husband does take care of our kids and he washes dishes but he also makes a mess like a toddler and leaves it for days. He has anxiety & add & a lot of the time he feels like another kid. One who needs reminding & one who always asks me where things are, what to cook or what to get at the store. He doesn’t take kids to the doctor or sign them up for extracurricular activities. He doesn’t know or keep track of what we need in the home. He doesn’t pay bills or budget. It’s maddening and frustrating and not what I expected. It’s caused a pretty big rift in our marriage. I don’t really know why it’s like this, other than maybe his mother did everything for him so he just expected it to be this way? Anyway. I can relate to the women who feel like they have a kid instead of a partner.

  2. I can relate to Nicole. I think you are extremely lucky to have a spouse that meets all those expectations you have. Some of ours simply cannot. Mine isn’t consistent and does require management. I can’t leave things to get done or they just don’t. He has severe ADHD and has since a child. He won’t accept any treatment because of all the stigma around it.

    So I am left with a man-child that needs direction for everything and 100% of the household responsibility on my shoulders. If you don’t live it you can’t understand it.

  3. I think you are one of the lucky ones. Most people look at you like you are crazy because a large majority of women end up with husbands that are adult children. Mine acted perfectly fine until we got married. It’s like he decided he doesn’t have to try to pretend to be a responsible adult anymore. I dream of a husband like yours. I have come to the conclusion that there are very few men like yours out there in the world. You got lucky and found one of the few.

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