Help! My Spouse Only Likes the Fun Bits of Parenting
You’re both working during the day, but your spouse only just wants to have fun with the kids when he gets home. What do you do?
Do you feel responsible for picking up the slack when it comes to the kids? Does it seem like you’re the one consistently doing the homework checks and reminding your kids endlessly to take their bath? Are feelings of resentment at having to do most of the “work” in parenting threatening to consume you?
Here are some tips that could help to reignite that love that you have for your spouse – and to make sure that it stays there even when he chooses to meet his friends while you ferry the kids around.
Share your parenting expectations with your spouse
It is important to share with each other the parenting expectations you both have. Dig deeper and transcend listing demands that outlines what you hope to see your spouse commit to. In an honest and non-threatening manner, share your upbringing and reflect on how each of your experiences and/or family culture has shaped your parenting expectations.
For example, you may have come from a family where your father worked and your mother was a full-time homemaker, while your spouse may have come from a dual-income family. Drawing from your childhood experiences, you may favour the idea of having one of you stay home with the children, while your spouse believes it is good for both parents to work.
In such situations, you can re-evaluate those expectations (or beliefs) together and come to a compromise based on the needs of your family. As you reconsider the way a family works, assess your family’s priorities by asking practical questions such as:-
- Is a single-income sufficient to meet the needs of my family, or would a dual-income be more viable?
- How important is it for us both to find fulfilment in our career?
- Is additional support from members of the extended family available?
- What are some of the skills that we can leverage on to meet our family’s needs?
Discussing pragmatic concerns in an honest and respectful way can help you to align your parenting beliefs and expectations.
Leverage on your strengths when parenting
Sometimes, the best way to share parenting responsibilities is to split tasks according to strengths or skill sets rather than splitting each task equally. It would be inefficient to split every single task, and highly stressful if the spouse is less equipped to handle the task.
In situations where one of you is loaded with more responsibilities outside of the home or juggling more on your plate, it is essential to have regular discussions about how parenting responsibilities can be shared in a more feasible proportion.
This is it’s important to prioritise your family’s needs to help you and your spouse decide what works best for your family. When parenting responsibilities are thoughtfully planned and divided efficiently, the sharing of tasks becomes less daunting.
Deal with conflict over parenting healthily
In caring for your children, it will be helpful for both of you to see from a “we” rather than an “I” perspective. This way, when a conflict arises, you can see it as a decision that you two need to work through together to bring about positive changes for the family.
Here are some things to take note of:
Watch your words and tone of voice
It would be helpful for the both of you to use “I” statements to share your understanding of the conflicts: “I feel hurt when I am left to care for the kids alone after work.” Avoid “you” statements like “You’re so insensitive and selfish.”
Stick with the subject at hand
Raising two or more issues to reinforce a point can complicate the discussion, making it harder to resolve the conflict. It is better to say, “It hurt my feelings when you didn’t want to help me do the dishes as I tucked the kids in bed,” rather than, “You never bother to help, you always think of yourself. Everyone thinks you’re selfish!”
Seek to understand the other person’s point of view
Beyond getting a point across, couples should seek to understand each other. By patiently unearthing how your spouse truly feels about a situation, it gives you insights to his/her motivation and how you could better resolve the issue at hand. Solving problems prior to empathising with each other can impede a good discussion as it temporarily reduces conflict without truly resolving it.
Do spend time together
Be intentional about carving out time at least once a week to being together and enjoy each other’s company. Where necessary, use a portion of the time to deal with conflicts. Choose to focus on your spouse, using this time to draw closer to each other.
The key to successfully sharing parenting responsibilities: open communication and conflict resolution. When conflicts are resolved in a caring and positive manner, it deepens your connection with your spouse and fosters a joyful attitude towards parenting responsibilities.
Do you have any other tips on sharing parenting responsibilities? We’d love to hear from you!
Focus on the Family Singapore is a local charity dedicated to helping married couples and their families thrive through differentiated programs, trusted resources and counselling services. Find out more at http://www.family.org.sg/marriedcouples.