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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5823
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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I have a question about my marriage: My wife and have been

Customer Question

I have a question about my marriage: My wife and have been married for 10 years now but we have a 4 yr. / 3yr. and a 10 month old. During this time I have been working our family business and usually am gone 12 hours a day (9am-9pm).
When I am home, I usually play with the kids or watch them while she can get other stuff done. During the night I take care of the children's needs about 75%-80% of time. Their needs may include changing wet clothes, soothing a sick child, bad dreams etc etc. My wife does all the nursing, she has not expressed an interest in pumping milk so I can feed the infant. (she has not done that with any of our kids).
Recently she stated she wanted me to wake in the middle of the night to take both the toddlers to the toilet before they wet the bed. I told her that she should do more of the waking up in the middle of the night and share the responsibility of waking up. She stated I was being selfish and that I should help her out by sacrificing my sleep because she has the kids all day.
I tried to tell her that we should share in the responsibilities at home, but she said she has no help from me all day long and that it's my turn to take care of the kids. Both my wife and I agreed before having kids that she would be a stay at home mom.
My opinion is that both of us have our "DAY" jobs. Her job is taking care of the house and kids. My job is Administrating the school and to teach (Martial Arts). When I come home we should share in the responsibilities of the house and kids.
What suggestion do you have for us to compromise. Am I wrong? Can you give some suggestions for us?
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 6 years ago.

Hi Gene, I'd like to help you with your question.

From your description, it sounds like you do your fair share of taking care of the kids. Coming home from your job and sharing in the care of the children is exactly how it should be. Your wife does work hard everyday caring for the kids. It is the hardest job in the world to be a parent. But you do an excellent job being there for your family.

That is not to say that your wife is not right too. Just in a different way. She does need to share in all the responsibilities in caring for the kids equally with you. At least as equal as you can make the situation, including getting up at night. But your wife is showing signs of burn out with her responsibilities. Caring for the children is constant, especially three kids all at such young ages. There is no lunch break, adult conversation, or even going to the bathroom by yourself. You cannot schedule your day in any way and everywhere you go, those kids go too so you have no freedom. Plus she is nursing, so not only is her attention in constant demand, her body is too. Mothers are a special lot dealing with that kind of stress.

My suggestion to you is to be as supportive as you can. Not only care for the kids half the time, but let her know how appreciative you are of the job she is doing. Bring her small gifts of appreciation. Let her get a bath by herself. Let her go out and get her hair done. Or even just take a nap.

Is there anyone who can stay with the kids for a short time? I know she can't do much outside the home because of the demands of nursing, but even a few hours helps. And it gives her time to focus on you without the kids needing attention.

Is there anyone to help her in the home? A part time babysitter, maid or other help during the day may make her job a lot easier. People have help in the work world, why shouldn't mothers at home.

Can you bring home dinner once a week? Pick up groceries for the family, even if it's just for the weekend?

I know this leaves a lot of the responsibility on you, and both parents with children as young as yours are under enormous stress. But once the kids are older (and it will happen much faster than you think!), your wife will have the time and energy to return the love and care you gave her at this time.

I hope this has helped you,

TherapistMarryAnn and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
what should I do about the sleeping? Should I just sacrifice for a while and get less sleep or should I ask her to help and... Take her out for dinner... let her get a bath..... etc etc
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 6 years ago.

You could set a schedule for getting up at night. Maybe you could do the nights when you don't have to work the next day (letting her catch up on sleep) and she can do the others. As long as it is even, it should work.

The other things- like taking her out, letting her get a bath, etc are not every day occurrences. Only when things are especially stressful. But don't forget about yourself. You are under stress, too. That is why getting help in the home is the most important step to try. It gives you both a break. And it is only temporary, until the kids get a bit older.