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Dr. Norman Brown
Dr. Norman Brown, Marriage Therapist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 1200
Experience:  Family Therapist & teacher 35+ yrs; PhD research in couples
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Hi. Thanks for your advice, it has helped me a great deal.

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Hi. Thanks for your advice, it has helped me a great deal. And now I am finding more and more the need for some advice regarding the underlying issue ie my husband's lack of emotional support.

I am basically a stay at home mother, I am with the kids five days a week, and he leaves the house at 7am and gets home at around 6. I have figured out a routine that seems to work for the kids, and when things come up I am usually the one that has to reprimand them, and figure out ways to establish the boundaries etc. As is expected, this is a difficult task when we have an almost 3year old who spends every hour of every day pushing those boundaries. A lot if the time it is trial and error.. and I am very comfortable in the knowledge that this is my responsibility, however I am finding it a challenge, to say the least, when my husband comes home and basically ignores my discoveries and tries to establish his own boundaries with the kids. In front of them, he virtually disses my ideas and ignores my suggestions, and it makes me feel generally invisible and taken for granted. It also shows the kids that Daddy doesn't listen to mummy, and I am already starting to see this copied when I have the kids to myself again during the week.

My husband does not like to be told what to do, but sometimes I feel that I have been through he'll to finally come to the point where I have figured out a strategy if dealing with certain issues that works, only to have that totally ignored simply for the sake of him fulfilling the need to have his own way that is different to mine. I don't want to make him feel inferior or less important I'm any way, but I am finding this to be inconsistent and I am fearful that it is confusing for the kids.

My husband does not want to be a Dad that works all the time and is therefore.not involved with his children. And I understand and support that
This is why I try and get him involved on a daily basis with regard to bathing the kids, reading to our eldest son before bed, and sometimes even putting our youngest(near one) to sleep. I have also asked him to help out with specific chores around the house on different occasions and he has tried to help me out but is inconsistent in that he will do it for maybe two or three days in a row and then revert back to not doing it. Here are some examples: when we were about to have our second child I was overwhelmed at the thought of the extra washing there would be and the less time I would probably have to do it. So I asked him to maybe get in the habit of putting a load on each morning before leaving for work in the morning. He argued about it with me but then finally relented and it lasted about a week max. Now he will do bit on the odd occasion but it is not something I can rely on to lighten my workload. He makes the children breakfast in the mornings and it was finding that I was so busy in the mornings that I would often forget to eat, or simply rum out of time. So I asked him to maybe make me breakfast as well, seeing as he was looking after himself and the kids already. This is again something that hour might do once in a blue moon. I have asked him to empty the rubbish bins regularly, as I wouldn't get a chance and they would start to stink out the house. Again he does try to do this when he remembers, but he very rarely finishes the job, it's the same with the dishes, though I have to give him credit for making a big effort, still he often leaves the house in a hurry and I have had to ask him to communicate with me when he hasn't been able to donut so that at least I know that hour cares about the fact that I will be left with a house in chaos and that it's partly his responsibility. In the end I asked him to stop trying to do all of those things and simply pick up after himself, clean up whenever hour makes a mess, and try and be consistent with where he puts things. Of course that is not working all that well either.

I know it may sound like I am trying to change him, but I think there is a difference between wanting someone to change who they are and wanting them to change some of their behaviour. I know that I have had to do a lot if things that I never used to do... like five loads of washing a day and tidying up the house on a daily basis. This is primarily so that the house can run more smoothly.

We lead very busy lives and I just don't think we can afford to not have some sort of system that works. I am not comfortable with the chores lying entirely on me, nor am I comfortable with it being vague as to who does what. When it is like that, the work lies there for days and days until finally someone gives in the fight(usually me) and cleans it up. I know I am not perfect, but st least when I fail to do.something that I feel is my responsibility, I communicate with him and apologise for leaving it, and I usually thank him if he has gone ahead and done it for me...
Hi, I am a Moderator for this topic. I sent your requested Professional a message to follow up with you here, when they are back online. If I can help further, please let me know. Thank you for your continued patience.

I'm sorry that I wrote this before I saw that there might be a professional that you've already been dealing with. But you can hear from two of us and just pick up what you want from what we offer. Well you've got a lot on your plate. Being that jammed with tasks requires good organization, as you're striving for, because otherwise frustrations can lead to more marital friction that poisons the warmth you need for each other to survive. It also sounds like you might have all boys, which could be very hard on you, since he might unconsciously assume he's got the right angle on boys because he was one. Those differences in policy will need to be discussed, and some friction over them is normal.

I have a few suggestions off the top:


1. When you make an agreement for some tasks he's going to do that he may have trouble remembering, also agree that you'll put up a chart on a wall somewhere, so the tasks can be checked off. And balance what you're asking him to do to help you out with a task you're committing to that helps him out (like his laundry, ironing his shirts, or something else that shows you're contributing to his support too).


2. Set yourselves up with a cleaning lady for once a week or once every 2 weeks, so you'll both be motivated to have the house in condition for her to do the work you both would rather somebody else would do.


3. Set yourselves up with a reward every week or two also, like a baby sitter and some relaxing or exciting thing the two of you will do together.


4. Make a list of the specific differences you perceive in how he handles kid-boundary issues compared to your ways, as a preparation for addressing them. One of our American psychiatrists Scott Peck wrote that Marriage has two main functions: to raise children, and to create intimate friction between people who love each other to not withdraw from the frictional issues, so each one will have to outgrow their self-centeredness through dealing with the other. Peck wrote "The Road Less Traveled" that begins with the sentence: "Life is difficult."

Dr. Norman Brown, Marriage Therapist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 1200
Experience: Family Therapist & teacher 35+ yrs; PhD research in couples
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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thanks. We in fact do have a cleaner that comes once a fortnight, and a lady that helps with housework on alternate fortnights. We also have a babysitter that comes for a few hours two days a week to allow me one on one time with each of the boys(yes we have two boys). So in essence we have someone in the house for three out of the five days in the working week. This motivates me to keep the place tidy but not necessarily my husband. I just wish he had the same desire to have my back as I feel that I do for him. I am at the point where I feel a little chained to the boys, because when I rave them with their father, he will often ignore my suggestions(for example, I may tell him that I had left food in the fridge for their dinner and he will ignore that and give them something else, or I will tell him that they didn't get much sleep during the day and need to go to bed early and he may not make a huge effort to do that). I made the comment recently that I really like our babysitter because she observes what I do and tries to emulate that when it comes to dealing with or disciplining the boys. My husband's response was defensive, querying whether I want him to be their father or their babysitter. I just want us to be consistent with each other.


Furthermore, I need to add that I have been apparently hormonal and more sensitive than usual lately. However, in my defence, I don't think that I am addressing anything different, but simply magnifying the stuff that had upset me so often in the past. Recently I was having a power struggle with our son and my husband humiliated me by grabbing him and taking him to a private place and proceeded to handle our son in his way. When I told him that that made me feel very unsupported he said that I need to have more patience. This hurt very much because I feel that I have been extremely patient with his lack of commitment or sensitivity.


My main concern though, is that I am facing a losing battle because we have been to see a counsellor in the past and my husband has not shown any commitment to working on the things that need to be worked on, since leaving the counsellors office.


I know when I try to talk he switches off because he thinks that I am emotional and ranting. But in essence I am desperately trying to make things better, and to feel heard, respected and appreciated.


How do I do this?!?


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