Q: Me and my Husband have been married for two years and have two children. I am a stay home Mom, but in my opinion I think when my husband is home that the duties dealing with the children should be split 50/50. And I don’t ever get to do anything without the children because my husband won’t watch the kids. So my first question is: Do you think the duties of the children should be split 50/50 when he is home? And my second question is: Should he be able to go out and do stuff without the kids if I can’t?? Please help our marriage is falling apart because of it!!
A: Frannie: Let me first give you a qualified “no”. It is not ALWAYS the case that a 50-50 time split on parenting is best when both parents are home. It can depend on a number of factors. Probably the best way of approaching this issue is to look at the distribution of discretionary (free) time within the relationship. Think of discretionary time as a resource. You can spend this resource doing fun stuff that you like and have chosen for yourself. Discretionary activities are not for the mutual benefit of both parties. For example, if your husband plays golf, goes out with the guys, spends time in leisurely reading, then all of that is discretionary time. However, if he is business meetings, is reading technical journals in preparation for a business move, or is going to the doctor, then all of that are responsibilities to maintain self and family. I would suggest that you approach the problem from the stand-point of discretionary time. Who’s getting more of it? You both can do a strict accounting of how much time you each spend in discretionary activities during a typical week. That will determine if there’s any unfairness in the distribution. THEN you can approach him about shifting some of the discretionary time to you while he takes the kids. Unless you go at this methodically as I’ve described, there’s a tendency for people to go with their gut feelings about why they’re psychologically entitled to more. Good luck. – Bryce Kaye