Should I expect my wife to help maintain the house more?
I currently work 60 hours a week to support my wife and 4 month old. In addition to my work, I am responsible for all the finances, yard/pool/auto maintenance, trash duty, and part dish washing and generally picking up all the rooms.
My wife works about 17 hours outside the home as a nanny, and is the primary caretaker for our child. I know our son consumes alot of time at this age, but feel that this constant clutter is the result of bad habits, not our child.
I typically come home to a totally cluttered, messy home. I would love to come home and spend time with my family instead of picking up after them each day. It seems that as she is trying to complete one task, she only does it half way, leaving the rest for me to do. This is a sore subject for us, and she won’t even discuss it without becoming hostile. Are my expectations to high?
Your wife may feel that your expectations are too high…she might feel that she would also really like to come home to a clean house, a hot dinner, and a contented baby…but that’s not going to happen on its own. You work hard, and it’s understandable why you feel the way you do, but a new baby disrupts everything for a while.
If you are approaching this subject by telling your wife that she has “bad habits” that you want her to correct, you are dooming yourself from the start…you are her husband, not her teacher or her judge. The surest way to annoy someone is to patronize them or lecture them.
After my son was born, my ex-husband used to come home from work and quiz me about what I did all day as if he wanted me to submit a status report. It would annoy me no end. He would then tell me what I “should” have been able to accomplish, as if I had been naughty and lazy. I went back to full-time work when my son was 5 months old, and my ex actually had to take care of my son for a few hours each day. He wasn’t able to accomplish a single thing in that time – not one. He never apologized for judging me, though.
It is very, very easy for a new parent to become overwhelmed by the needs of a young baby. The work seems never-ending and it feels like you never get a minute to yourself or three minutes in a row to finish anything you start. You don’t say how old the child she watches is, but providing childcare for two children can be exhausting. Maybe she really is so overwhelmed that she just can’t organize her time to allow her to work on what she sees as less than urgent tasks.
Why don’t you ask her what her priorities are, and what gets in the way of her completing tasks…in fact, why don’t you just ask her whether it’s a priority for her as it clearly is for you. If it isn’t, why don’t you try to compromise…or help her with the tasks she can’t get to?
When you talk to her about this, you should definitely not emphasize that you work 60 hours a week and she “only” works 17 hours…or that you “expect” her to complete this particular task. Just remember – she doesn’t work for you…don’t talk to her as if she does.
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