MOLLY: The reader added that she and her husband both work outside the house, but she feels like she's the one that does a bulk of the household duties and childcare. How can she get him to help out more?
Dr. Susan Rutherford (MOM): The biggest issue I hear about in my office with couples is the division of labor at home, and the kind of complaints almost universally coming from women that they not only work full-time –as their husbands do– but when they get home, it’s more work for them. It seems that often their husbands don’t participate as fully as the wives would like in the household duties.
This is a BIG problem; it’s the number one issue between couples that causes marital strife in our country, not just from what I’ve seen in my little slice of practice. There has to be a lot of discussion about how things are going to work. It’s endless, what has to be done at home on a daily basis. Whether it's fixing dinner, cleaning up, bathing the kids, or whatever…. Both parents may be tired, but still, somebody has to take care of the household and children. When one parent doesn't pull their weight leaving the other to pick up the slack, it can cause real problems in a marriage or partnership.
The long term consequences for a couple in this situation may be that the women loses interest in her husband sexually. When a husband acts like a child in not helping out, a wife doesn’t feel like he’s a full partner. She ends up taking care of him as she takes care of her children, and think about it: you don’t have sex with a child.
MOLLY: How would you suggest dealing with this problem?
MOM: The only way to deal with it is to actually talk about it together. If she stuffs down her resentment and instead acts out at home by withdrawing from him, it usually doesn’t get resolved and instead builds resentment in him, until each partner is angry with the other for different reasons, not realizing that it's all connected.
This issue really must be talked about within a marriage. Usually it gets talked about when one partner is already furious at the the other, either for the lack of support or the lack of intimacy. But it's best not to approach.....
Read the rest of Dr. Rutherford's advice at Conversations With My Mother.com
Molly Skyar and Dr. Rutherford are behind the blog “Conversations With My Mother”: a blog about raising kids and how our parenting decisions now can have long term effects.
Dr. Rutherford is a Clinical Psychologist in practice for over 30 years. She has degrees from Duke University, New York University (NYU), and the University of Denver. Molly is Dr. Rutherford's younger daughter and the mother of two children under six.
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