Thanks for the input… it’s very helpful, especially from a man’s viewpoint. I definately see areas where you are completely on track and I will admit that I need to take more time to tend to him and our relationship…it just seems that I am just so tired and worn out all of the time, so that often falls last in the list of priorities. We actually had a date night last night…something we need to do more often now that the girls are older. I plan on speaking to him about some of my feelings during a time when we feel “close” as you suggested instead of doing it during the heat of the moment. I will be purchasing that book at well! Wish us luck!
January 27, 2010
I hope other mothers of twins weigh in here, because I've got a stack of letters exactly like yours sitting on my desk as I write this. Let's break this down a bit. Your husband should have been much more involved when the twins were born and it's understandable that you would have felt resentful about his lack of involvement, especially recovering from a C-section! Most women would feel resentful under those circumstances. You also say that your twins are the loves of your life. That's good, and is as it should be. However, there's a saying that goes "When a man becomes a father he gains a child and loses a wife." In addition to your understandable resentment, I wonder if some of the tension that exists between the 2 of you is a function of the loss of centrality that your husband has experienced when you became a mom? I'm not advocating a traditional bring him his paper and slippers when he gets home from a hard day at the office. I'm focused on the loss that many men feel when their wives become mothers. New babies aren't necessarily the loves of men's lives. Men, not infrequently, can take weeks if not months to gain the same level of attachment that their wives can experience almost from the outset. The love of men's lives is often the same person that it was before kids-their wives. So, while there's a whole lot your husband is doing wrong, I want you to start by also thinking about the ways that he could be feeling rejected by you. You also say something that I hear a lot from moms: "He never helps- I have to ask." Again, in a fair world, you shouldn't but since it sounds like he does participate when you ask, then you should ask. You should also try to get him to agree to some kind of schedule that he'll initiate and take responsibility for without your being in the role of supervisor. You've said he's improved immensely, and frankly, that's all that any of us can expect from our partners- a willingness to improve. Yes, he agreed to have children with you and may have implied he'd share everything equally with you. But now the reality is upon the both of you of what that actually looks like; unfortunately, it has to get re-negotiated all over. I don't think you can compel him to go to church. You can say, "It means a lot to me and really makes me happy" and hope that serves as a motivator. You can also trade something that is really meaningful to him. Some people bristle at this kind of horsetrading approach to marriage but I'm a pragmatist. Marriage is an environment of limited resources. You have to use what you have to bargain with and persuade your partner to do what will make you happy if they're unwilling to get there without your persuasion. Let me also summarize some of the key points of persuasion from my book The Lazy Husband: How to get men to do more parenting and housework (St Martin's Press). Negotiate standards: Women often have much higher standards around parenting and housework. In general, to maintain the peace, men typically have to raise theirs and women to lower theirs. Women who act like they're the experts around parenting, for example, produce husbands who constantly need direction. Research shows that when women can hand dad the baby, walk out the door and not look back, men generally rise to the cause. In those families, they not only do more parenting, they do more housework! Approach with affection: Conversations end the way that they begin. If you want him to change his behavior, approach him when you're feeling close. Studies show that men do more housework and parenting in those homes where they feel loved and cared about. Be assertive: Be direct and clear with your requests. Don't beat around the bush. If he refuses to do his share and you've tried affection and negotiation, consider going on strike. Don't give mixed messages: Many women feel guilty about getting their partners to do more and end up communicating in a confusing way (he agrees to clean up the dishes and you get up and start doing them before he can). Communicate productively: Even if you have a "right to be mad" you're not going to get a very productive response if you're broadcasting resentment and disappointment 24/7. Most men really do want to make their wives and girlfriends happy. So calling him names or blasting him with resentment is just going to make him shut down.
Hope this helps. Let me know.
Thanks… I have a great network of friends, several of whom have twins and they have reassured me that, while it’s frustrating, what I am experiencing is “normal”. When people say they have 2 children who were born close together…say 18 months apart…and compare them to having multiples…well, they just don’t have any idea. Will be looking to the books as a reference.
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