What Dad Can Do for
I feel worn out and wish my husband would
give me more support. He says he wants to and that I should just
give him a list. Any ideas?
Out of our marriage and experience with many
couples with children, here's a Top Ten list (in no particular
order) addressed to a father; hopefully some of these suggestions
will fit your relationship:Take initiative with the kids -
When a child has a need or a problem, dive in. For example,
you be the one to tend to your child in a restaurant. If your wife
offers a suggestion, take on board what's useful in her comment, and
keep diving in.
Take on a regular chore - Pick an
everyday childrearing or housework task and start doing it routinely
with little fanfare.
Arrange date nights - Set up the
babysitting, take the lead in telling your kids that you're going
out, and be the last one out the door.
Start by joining - Try to have your
opening move be one of interest, support, empathy, and what you
agree with - rather than withdrawal, detached analysis, or
disagreement. Imagine how you'd feel if you were she, if you had her
tasks, her day, her life. Try to explore any negative feelings in
her rather than step back from them or try to fix them quickly so
they go away.
Ask three questions in a row -
Every day, try to ask three questions in a row about her
inner experience, such as: How did you feel when _______ ? Deep
down, what did you really want in that situation? Can you say more
about that? How was _______ related to _______ for you?
Give her a night off each week -
From start to finish, handle one night a week. It's fine to
have take-out and to do things your way (as long as the effects
don't spill over onto her). If she wants to stay home and take a
long bath, you're still in charge of the kids and the housework.
Reach out to her first - A
relationship is like a series of volleys in tennis, and it's
typically the woman who puts the ball in play. Instead, you be the
one to call to see how her day is going. Give her a card or small
present out of the blue. Be the one to say, "Hey, let's talk."
Stick up for her with your family and
friends - Put your wife in a good light. Imagine that the
conversation is being recorded and your wife will listen to it; what
would her reaction be?
Communicate a vulnerable feeling or wish
- Share some part of your inner experience that is soft,
vulnerable, and open. If it makes you squirm a bit to imagine saying
it - that's what you ought to say!
Be affectionate without it being about sex -
Besides the obvious (hugs, etc.), try little massages or
back scratches, rubbing her feet, or fluffing her hair. Ask her what
she likes. With words, tell her things that you like about her, why
you're fond of her. Tell her you love her. A lot.