Your Parenting Partner Shouldn't Have To Parent You

PSA: Women Are F*cking Sick Of Having To ‘Parent’ Their Partners

“Woman in kitchen holding laundry, looking careworn”
Michael Blann/Getty

I specifically remember leaving the house one Saturday morning in a rush or my son’s basketball game so mad I felt like I wanted to burst out of the car window and never come back. I’d asked my (then) husband to run the vacuum cleaner while I went for a run. I came home to find he couldn’t quite handle doing it. Not to mention, the kids were still sitting around in their pajamas as they all watched television.

This means I had an hour to get myself ready, three kids ready, and leave my house with all the floating dog hair (we had two dogs at a time), only to come home and have to do it.

The weekends were a time when I knew I could head out for a walk or run since my husband would be home to stay with the kids and I looked forward to it.

I was constantly getting them ready for school on my own each and every day, then working, then doing the housework, while he was out running the family business. I wanted to be able to count on him to walk in my shoes for an hour on a Saturday morning so I wouldn’t have to pick up the pieces, but it never worked out that way. It was something I didn’t think I should have to ask for, yet something I felt my partner should know to do.

In fact, it was so much effort to get him to help out, at times I saved my energy and did it myself.

I would always be so disappointed when I would see he just decided not to do something because it was “too hard” or the “kids were happy” and he didn’t want to disturb them.

It left me feeling like I wasn’t important and he didn’t want to put in any effort to make my life a little easier or give me a break from things I did every day.

A lot of men will play dumb and act like they didn’t know it was that big of a deal, or gaslight you by telling you to calm down. But I call bullshit. This is pure laziness.

PSA: Women get really fucking sick of constantly telling their partner what needs to be done, how they can help them out, or constantly ask them to do things they should automatically do, because hello, they share the same four walls.

One afternoon I was listening to Oprah in the background while making dinner and trying to occupy my three toddlers when I heard a psychologist on the show talking to a married couple who was struggling.

The husband didn’t understand why his wife got so pissed at him for not putting new paper towels on the roll when he used the last one. 

“It’s not the paper towels,” he explained to the husband. “It’s because you’ve ignored her request again and again.”

It was the first time I was able to articulate why it made me so mad when I would see things my husband could have done, but chose not to. It’s because he kept doing it over and over and over again. 

And who has to pick up the pieces? The other parent, that’s who. 

This post written by divorce coach Matthew Fray about leaving the dishes by the sink and divorce really breaks down the true reason why couples struggle with seemingly small things. 

In reference to something like leaving a glass by the sink, Fray says, “Unfortunately, most guys don’t know that she’s NOT fighting about the glass. She’s fighting for acknowledgment, respect, validation, and his love.”

It’s easy for the person who doesn’t care about the dishes, or the laundry to leave the mess lying around and just pretend they don’t know their spouse is going to do it.

But this is where it gets dangerous. As Fray puts it,  “I understand that when I leave that glass there, it hurts her — literally causes her pain — because it feels to her like I just said: ‘Hey. I don’t respect you or value your thoughts and opinions. Not taking four seconds to put my glass in the dishwasher is more important to me than you are.’”

It’s not about the object lying around. It’s about what it stands for. When my ex used to do things like that (which was much too often), it would make me upset because I felt disrespected, unseen, like he didn’t care, and like he was my child versus my husband. That led to me being turned off by him, which greatly affected our sex life.

All these things combined slowly broke down our marriage. And no, it’s not as simple as “You left a glass out, I’m not going to have sex with you and there goes our marriage.”

We don’t want to parent our partners. We want to feel like equals. There were some things that were really important to my ex that I didn’t understand, like his love for canoeing. I hated going, but I’d do it because it made him happy to go as a family.

He also loved this really time-consuming chicken recipe, but I’d make it because he loved it and it was one of things I did to show him that. It’s hard to keep that up if you aren’t getting some of that back.

We don’t want to have to micromanage our spouses. Saying “Just tell me what to do and I’ll do it” when your marriage is already on its last leg isn’t going to cut it. We aren’t your parents — we are your life partner. 

You already know what to do — just look back at your last argument, or think about all the times she’s told you what you aren’t doing — and there’s your answer.

It’s not that hard and it’s not too much to ask to roll up your sleeves and do your part in running a home and taking care of the kids. 

I see how my ex is now with his live-in girlfriend. He does a lot of the housework, and yesterday when I picked up my kids, they were both bringing in groceries from the car — something I used to do alone.

I’ve asked him about this because the truth is, it’s been hard to watch him be a better partner to her than he was to me.

He told me he didn’t want to make the same mistake twice. Maybe someday his girlfriend will thank me.