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Busy Philipps Asked for a Divorce When Her Husband Wasn’t Doing Enough Parenting

As a society, we’re slowly moving toward a more equitable division of labor in the home — but for many couples, it’s going too slowly, and the overburdened partner (who is, more often than not, a woman) is forced to demand a change. In a new interview, actress Busy Philipps said she wanted a divorce after feeling alone as a parent — which is what it took for husband Marc Silverstein to step up and fundamentally restructure their parenting roles. The most surprising part of all? It totally worked, and they couldn’t be happier with their new system.

Philipps sat down with Fair Play author Eve Rodsky for Harpers Bazaar to talk about how she pulled her marriage back from the brink, and her answers were illuminating, to say the least. Here’s how Philipps described her mindset when she asked Silverstein for a divorce: “My thinking was that if I leave, at least then maybe I’d get two days off a week … I understand that I’m in a place of privilege, and even if I left Marc and I’d been super down on my luck, there was a version of life that I could have made work for me and my daughters. This is not the reality for many women.”

But even though Philipps was “fully out the door,” Silverstein unexpectedly stepped up to the plate. “Marc was like, ‘I’ll do anything,'” Philipps recalled. “And I was like, ‘Okay, then do everything. Because I have done it all, all by myself, and I’m done, dude.'”

Here’s how the couple changed things up going forward: “What we ended up doing was creating our own system,” Philipps explained. “He made the call: He should be the one to stay home with the kids.” Silverstein joined the interview later, and confided that the reason he’d shied away from parenting work was that he liked “being good at stuff,” and didn’t feel like he had the necessary skills. But therapy helped him figure out that family was the most important thing for him: “Once I figured out what I could bring to the table, things changed,” Silverstein said. “I wanted to do more.”

An added perk? Silverstein didn’t just successfully take on these tasks, but he actively enjoys them now. “He now loves his mornings with the girls,” Philipps shared. “He’ll make my Bulletproof coffee and bring it into the bedroom while I’m still sleeping, and then leave to take the kids to school. He has conversations with them that I’m jealous of. The closeness he now has with these girls, it’s really special.”

While Rodsky’s research on family dynamics confirms that this type of renegotiation does often result in higher satisfaction for both parties, the specifics of dividing that labor depend on the individual couple. “You have to decide what works for you,” Philipps concluded. “And you have to think about your children. I want everything for my girls, but the only way they’re going to believe it’s possible for them is if they see me have it.”

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