Marriage Mondays: Do You Want More Teamwork in Your Marriage?
I hate it when people say to me: “Are you babysitting the kids?” because they don’t see my wife. No I’m not babysitting my kids – they’re mine. I’m parenting them, just like she does. Even in 2012, people still feel like men are the secondary parent and don’t play as much of a role as the woman does. Sometimes, we don’t help our own case. Because we work with so many couples, we see and hear all kinds of stories, but one of the big complaints from both sides is that there is just not enough help or enough teamwork in the relationship.
Teamwork comes in many forms, but the teamwork we’re talking about is in the parenting duties. Do you and your spouse have defined roles of who does what with the children? For example, who does the children’s hair on a daily basis? Who gives baths to the smaller children? Who helps with homework? Who helps with scholarship or school applications? Who takes them for doctor’s appointments? Who plans and executes the birthday parties? We could go on and on with the questions, but the point is, for every activity or thing that is involved with your child, someone has to be responsible for it. Many people assume that it is the wife’s job. Is that fair? With the amount of work, time and effort it takes to raise one child — let alone multiple children – is it fair that only one person share the bulk of the burden?
Some people may say, “Well I’m the one who is working so when I come home I’m tired,” or “I have other things that I need to do to prepare for the next day.” The time after work is a great bonding time with your child, especially if you have been gone all day. Children need to spend time with their parents, both of their parents. Children need to see that both parents are interested in their activities, schoolwork, health, what they think.
Parenting is not an easy job, and if you are blessed enough to have two able-bodied people to do the job, both need to be involved. Here a few tips on getting the teamwork back in your parenting relationship.
1. Communicate about what tasks need to be done and discuss who would be the best fit for the job.
SIDE NOTE: If there has been a job you have been doing and has now been turned over to your spouse, DO NOT criticize them if they are not doing it your way “the right way.” Sometimes we get in our own way with this one.
2. Be consistent with your duties.
3. Make sure you are spending time with your children when completing the tasks that involve them, no matter how old they are. Children want to see that both parents care about their well-being from homework to afterschool activities to doctor’s visits even to discipline.
4. Share in the responsibilities of discipline, but be a united front in the way you discipline. If there is something you don’t agree with, don’t bring that up in front of the kids because all that will do is undermine the authority of that spouse. Speak with each other privately without the tone of negative criticism.
5. Support one another. If you see that your spouse is either overwhelmed, having a hard time with the tasks they are taking on or they just need some help, help them. There’s nothing worse than to struggle and feel like you can’t get the support of your spouse. The more help you give one another, the less of a burden parenting will be.
Share responsibilities, support one another, help shape your partner into the best parent they can be without criticism or belittling them. Parenting is a hard job, but if done right for your home, it is just another way to bring you and your spouse closer. Shared parenting done in love can enhance the love that you feel for one another and you, your spouse and your children will have a sense of being taken care of and a sense of security. Parenting is a partnership.
Ben and Alisha Walker, “The Marriage Coaches,” are passionate about repairing, restoring and revitalizing relationships and are co-authors of I Love Being Married: A Guide to Divorceproof Your Marriage.