My wife and I made a joint decision when she got pregnant, that she’d stay home when the kids were young, and I’d be the breadwinner.
We had no idea then how expensive it’d become to raise two children in a big city where my work’s located.
My wife worked in two different job fields over the years when she was single. Yet she’s shown no interest in seeking even a part-time job, though the children are now ages six and seven and at school all day.
I’ve had to pick up part-time contracts, which I work on at home at night, in order to keep up with our expenses.
I love my wife, she’s a terrific mom, but I can’t help but feel resentment sometimes.
I know she has a lot to do to keep the house and the kids’ and my needs (food, laundry, etc.) going, but I also see that she has time now to socialize, have some lunch dates with friends, and look after herself.
But when I want to do similar things on the weekend, she resents that I’m not taking over all activities with the children and helping out with chores.
I’m not the only guy among our married friends who feels this way about the “balance” or lack of it in family life.
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer regarding countless personal lives, choices, and circumstances.
What’s common is that family life has phases. When you and your wife made that initial decision, it felt right.
Then, during the years of having one baby after another, it was your wife at home having to respond to hourly changes in demands.
In the workplace, you may’ve faced stress and demands too, but it was familiar and more consistent. There was the social benefit of co-worker friendships.
Now, your wife’s day has eased somewhat, while yours has longer hours due to financial pressure.
You made a mutual decision years back, and should be able to make another for this phase.
Just don’t initiate discussion from resentment.
Start with your love and appreciation for who she is and what she does for you and the children.
Then ask her how she sees these next years and what new opportunities they offer for all of you, including her.
Remember, she may lack confidence after years at home, in her ability to get a job or to manage full-time work.
She may need a transition period of upgrading her skills, taking courses, even entering a new field.
And she’ll need you to be supportive of whatever changes she tries.
I told my partner of four years that I’d never trust her again if she’d joined the cheating website Ashley Madison, even before we met.
It’d mean she was willing to be with someone else’s husband, not caring what it meant to his family.
How could I trust her commitment to me and to our family? Fortunately, her name wasn’t on the list.
Was I Right?
You raise the double-impact of infidelity – that there’s a third person and possibly children being disrespected, neglected, left alone.
Some people still say, “That’s not my doing, it’s the cheater who’s hurting the partner.”
But you make a good point… what does the other person involved think “commitment” should look like?
That said, you should know your own partner well by now, and not need to threaten her with what-if scenarios.
Either you do trust her, or you don’t.
FEEDBACK Regarding the woman who thinks she “witnessed” cheating (Sept. 5):
Reader – “I’m surprised you suggested she ask her sister about his travel habits or similar leading questions.
“Why not contact the man directly, say "I'm sure that I saw you...(wherever)..." and leave that with him?
“No accusation, in case she was wrong and it either wasn't him or the other woman was a cousin, sister, etc.
“If she’s correct, then he knows his secret’s out, and nobody else is burdened with thinking they know something that they don’t.
“The “witnessed” can then either come clean, move on, hide better... whatever.”
Ellie – As you apparently know yourself, whether she talks to him or goes through her sister who knows the couple, his family’s life’s about to be affected.
As a distant acquaintance, she’ll be the one who’s partly blamed, or called a meddling gossip.
Talking directly to him might be something the sister can handle better.
Tip of the day:
Couples need to keep finding a balance between child-rearing and work responsibilities, over many phases.