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Dear Jidoh,

I am a 24-year-old mother of two young children aged 3 and 1. I am a full-time stay-at-home mom, and I love being able to care for my children. My husband works for a large corporate firm and works a lot of hours, sometimes as many as 85 per week. I know that my place is in the home caring for our children, and that his primary responsibility is to provide for me and our children. When my husband is at home, he wants everything to be spotlessly clean, dinner ready and waiting, and he will not help with the care of the children or the house, even when asked nicely. I understand that he is tired, but is there a way to approach him and help him to understand that his responsibilities as father, husband, and head of our home do not end when he punches the time clock? Or am I the one who is in the wrong by expecting him to help when he is at home?

A Tired Mommy

Dear Tired,

How lucky your children are to have such a devoted mommy. As an often babysitter-Jidoh, I see how hard it can be raising a young family, and that it takes two parents to do the job properly.

That said, it is important for the wife to appreciate that a man gets much of his feeling of self-accomplishment and satisfaction from excelling at his job. Whether he is working for himself, working for others or full time kollel studying, his feeling of self-worth is best supported by being great at what he does. It sounds like your husband is not only driven to succeed but also demands perfections from himself as well as from others.

However, there is no doubt that his responsibility to provide support for his family does not end there. Emotional as well as physical support and time for you and your children are equally important. Boys need a father as a role model and daughters need their father's affection for them to build healthy relationships later in life.

He may also be under the mistaken idea that marriage is a partnership, much like a business, where one manages the outside (him) and the other is responsible for the inside (you). But that is not the case. Marriage is meant to be a relationship with both parties responsible for looking out for the welfare, well-being, and happiness of the other. That means that sometimes both spouses may have to work if one salary is not enough, and that both parents must pitch in to raise the family.

Unless your husband was attending med school or law school where it would be understood that he would be away from home for long periods of time, you would be absolutely justified to discuss your concerns with him. 

I suggest you find some time when the two of you can spend quality, quiet time together. Begin by asking why he feels that his time is best spent at the office. His answer might surprise you. Perhaps he has an equally demanding boss. Perhaps it is only temporary during "season" or perhaps he has a fear or aversion of being responsible for young ones. Once you better understand his perspective, share your feelings about your need to have him home as a husband, father, and companion. It should be discussed in a way that meets both of your needs.

You are fortunate that you are married to a young man who has the drive to succeed. You must work with him to ensure that he succeeds in his business, his family, and his marriage.

All the best,

Jidoh