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To think I'm just being an equal partner?

136 replies

shirleythefamilyguy · 26/07/2017 16:21

Settle an argument between me and my friend!

He thinks I’m doing too much at home, that my wife expects too much of me, and is worried I’ll burn out – I just think I’m doing my best to support my wife while we both do equally demanding jobs.

I work full-time, my wife is a SAHP to our 18mo DS, mostly through circumstance (she lost her job, our childminder quit) but she was happy for the chance to spend more time with our DS and knows she can go back to work any time. I was a SAHP for a few months when DS was a baby but am now back at work and we’re just about surviving on my salary.

Being a SAHP is completely draining, and my partner – while loving the time with our son – is understandably exhausted most days, and often reduced to tears by the unrelenting nature of full-time childcare. I’m out of the house from 7.30-6.30 but around that I:

  • do bedtime every night
  • do all night wakes
  • do all early starts until I need to get ready for work and my wife takes over
  • do the majority of childcare every weekend so she can have a break (we try to have at least a few hours’ family time together though)
  • do the big weekly shop
  • change the beds every fortnight week
  • do what housework I can when I’m home, including a big clean at weekends, plus cook the following day’s dinner the night before when possible

    My wife goes out at least a couple of times per month with friends and I keep encouraging her to plan more things in the evenings so she can get a bit more adult company and not feel like all she does is childcare! I probably go out either with work or socially one evening every 4-6 weeks, but am always home to put DS to bed and am aware that it’s a long day for my partner otherwise. I’ve been taking my annual leave as the odd day here and there so me and DS go out somewhere and she gets a whole day off, which she appreciates although these days are obviously few and far between. One weekend I took DS away overnight so she had the whole weekend to herself.

    Most of my dad friends say their stay at home partners did or do all the night wakes so they would be better prepared for their work day. One friend in particular is worried that I’m often tired and thinks it’s unfair that I do so much when my wife ‘doesn’t work’. But the way I see it, my wife’s work day is from 7.30 until 6.30 with no breaks (except the hour or two when DS sleeps), whereas I get an hour commute each way, only work from 9-5.30 and usually get a lunch break! Yes, I’m tired, but I’m still able to function at work and I know my wife is doing the harder job so I’d rather she was as rested as possible – I know she often feels very frustrated at home, or doing the same things day in day out, and obviously an 18 month old isn’t always the easiest company.

    My wife has dinner on the table when I get home every day, whether she’s had to cook it or is just heating something I’ve cooked the night before. She does lots of laundry and keeps the house as clean as she can with a toddler around. When I’m home, I see it as my responsibility to do everything else she’s not had time to do, and to give her a break! Admittedly I don’t feel like I get much of a break myself but I want to support my wife, love spending time with my DS and miss the days when I saw him all day every day, so think it’s worth the sacrifice. Surely this is just what it’s like when you have children? But from what I hear, the majority of working men seem to expect their stay at home partners to do the lion’s share of house-related tasks as well (not to mention all the childcare, even after doing that for 5 days a week)? I can’t compare anecdotally with working women with stay at home partners as I don’t know any socially or at work.

    So who is BU? Me for thinking this is normal and should be expected, or my friend for thinking this isn’t normal or the sign of a healthy partnership?
OP posts:
gingerh4ir · 26/07/2017 16:26

your friend.

if it works for you and your DW who cares what the friend thinks

SheSaidHeSaid · 26/07/2017 16:27

Here's the thing.... Are you bothered by it or is it just your friend who is? If you're not bothered by it then it doesn't matter.

You both basically have full time jobs so I think it sounds fair. Bare in mind as well that during your working day you'll probably still have moments of peace and a lunch break whereas she probably wont.

FWIW, I think you sound like a fantastic and supportive partner. You and your wife and you kiddie are lucky to have such a lovely family unit.

MrsTerryPratchett · 26/07/2017 16:27

Men that expect their wives to look after children all day and all night and do all the cooking, cleaning, laundry and organisation are arseholes.

If you are more tired than your wife and you feel that you need more of a break, you can rejig things a bit. But it sounds like you have things worked out pretty well. My DH was very similar and our marriage is looking a lot better than his friends' (who are like your friends). They are all bemused at why they have a tired, grumpy, resentful wife who doesn't want to shag them.

peonie83 · 26/07/2017 16:28

Your friend... you're fantastic and sound like my husband

TheSparrowhawk · 26/07/2017 16:29

As long as it works for you, it's fine. The one thing I'd be concerned about is if you're never getting a full night's sleep - you can get very run down from that.

shirleythefamilyguy · 26/07/2017 16:30

I'm not bothered by it as much as some of my friends and colleagues seem to have been. I think partly it's from a nice place of concern as I have been very tired (DS wakes a lot at night) but I cope better on less sleep than my partner so know I can deal with it, whereas I know from experience how hard a full day's childcare is on little sleep!

I also think partly there's a lot of gender stereotyping at play, so I've mostly been ignoring it. But one friend in particular has been quite vocal, probably because he never sees me these days (he's a dad too but with slightly older children).

OP posts:
upperlimit · 26/07/2017 16:33

Your friend. You divvy up life in such a way that both partners have a similar quality of life and sense of well being. This isn't a game of even-stevens.

mumonashoestring · 26/07/2017 16:34

Your friend is being a bit of a tit. Is he a working dad who's worried his wife might start asking him to do more, or does he just not really know what he's talking about?

DH is a SAHD, has been since DS was about 18 months old - I get up on weekends to let him sleep in (since I'm rubbish at getting back to sleep anyway), cook whenever I'm home and have time, take DS out to give DH time for hobbies or just to relax and enjoy not having to do anything, do the monthly 'stock up' online shop, laundry on weekends. DH generally gets up if DS wakes at night (less frequent these days but if he's poorly we share the load, I'd prefer it if both of us were a bit tired rather than him being dead on his feet). It's just what you do when you're in a partnership (or should be).

And you've only got to have a quick look through the relationships board on here to see how (very, very un)happy the SAHMs who do everything around the house are...

MrsTerryPratchett · 26/07/2017 16:35

Well if DS wakes a lot (and I've lived that one) maybe you need to talk to your DW about more balance there.

Luckily it's likely to get better.

DirtyChaiLatte · 26/07/2017 16:38

You sound like a lovely, supportive husband who cares a lot about the welfare of his child and wife.

You really shouldn't give a damn about what other people think you should or should not be doing as long as it works for you.

LonnyVonnyWilsonFrickett · 26/07/2017 16:38

Your friend is scared you'll tell his DW how much you do and she'll put a rocket up his arse!

You sound really supportive. I think you could maybe share some of the night wakings - I think every parent deserves at least 2 unbroken nights of sleep a week (where feeding method makes that possible) - but apart from that it sounds great. And actually about right!

MsSusanStoHelit · 26/07/2017 16:39

You and your partner seem to have it all worked out so it works for both of you - tell your friend to stfu and pull his finger out in his own home.

Personally I can see both sides of the night-wakings argument but it's not my kid or my marriage and I don't know either person's temperament or tiredness levels so you just keep doing your thing and ignore him.

Lostinaseaofbubbles · 26/07/2017 16:40

It's nothing to do with your friend. If it suits you and your wife then that's fine.

If I had to comment I'd say that I'd split the night wakings a bit (probably only because I found them killer and I wish we'd split them a bit more).

If it's working for you guys as it is though then there's no need to change

lottiegarbanzo · 26/07/2017 16:42

I think the significant difference between you and your friends is that you've been a SAHP and know what hard work it is.

In our house, my SAHP role covered work and commuting time. I did do nights but DP did early mornings. We split 'me time' equally at weekends, plus family time of course.

I find the 'SAHM is a 24/7 role' brigade utterly bemusing. It may be partly cognitive dissonance - people thinking they are egalitarian 'good people', while also having a firmly fixed, reactionary idea in mind of what a mother is. But really, that attitude seems to be adopted by lazy, selfish fuckers who love themselves more than they love their wives IME.

Pengggwn · 26/07/2017 16:42

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

OohMavis · 26/07/2017 16:44

If it works for you, fine.

Personally though this wouldn't work for me, at all. You're doing the lion's share, it's not very equal.

I'm a SAHM and yes, it's tiring, yes it's BORING sometimes, but it isn't so hard I need to have a break all weekend - and down tools letting DH do absolutely everything when he gets in from work.

It sounds as though you take care of everything apart from actually being there with your son during the day and most of the evening meals.

OohMavis · 26/07/2017 16:46

Flipping this a bit, if I was out of the house all day after a long commute and DH expected me to take care of that list in your OP, I'd be very unhappy indeed.

Jaxhog · 26/07/2017 16:48

It's totally up to you and your DW, and no-one else's business but yours.

Your DW is lucky to have such a supportive partner.

Bizzysocks · 26/07/2017 16:48

If you asked her if she would do bed times and night waking twice a week, what would she say?

EJREsMum · 26/07/2017 16:48

Where can I get the application form from the 'Great Parent Agency' that you come from ?

My partner does F all but that's a whole new thread

Gingerandgivingzerofucks · 26/07/2017 16:49

To be honest, it sounds like the wife is getting a far better deal. (Is this the friend writing, I wonder?) When do you get a lie in? How come you have to do all the night waking ups when you're up at the crack with the toddler then off to work?

LottieDoubtie · 26/07/2017 16:49

I agree that alternating night wakings and bedtimes seems 'fairer' to me. But ultimately it's up to you and your family and isn't any of your friends business.

Tofutti · 26/07/2017 16:49

First thought was reverse...

But if not, I think it's unfair you're doing all bedtimes, night wakes and early starts. When do you get a lie-in?!

The rest seems reasonable. I think your wife could do a bit more housework during the week, so you can spend more time together as a family on the weekends.

But apart from that, it's refreshing to read about a man taking equal responsibility in the home.

redphonebox · 26/07/2017 16:50

I'm on the fence. If it works for you, great. If you're genuinely happy with it then why should you change anything.

On the other hand, you are doing A LOT in my opinion. It doesn't sound like a fair split to me. You said your wife is regularly reduced to tears - is that normal for her? Is she naturally just quite an emotional person? Personally I'd worry about that.

lelapaletute · 26/07/2017 16:51

You sound wonderful. Don't listen to your friend, listen to yourself and your wife. The only thing is suggest is that you share the night shifts and mornings more as you both need decent sleep now and again. But you are not being a mug, you are being an amazing husband and father.

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