I’m sure y’all get tired of my yapping sometimes, so I thought it would be a nice change of pace to post this relatable story written for The Laughing Stork by relationship expert Laurie Puhn. Laurie is a family and divorce lawyer-mediator, author of “Instant Persuasion” and advice blogger at ExpectingWords.com, a great, honest blog offering insights about how pregnancy and parenting affect our love life — and how to effectively deal with those issues. Best of all, she’s also a wife and mom to a 20-month-old boy named Blake.
To be fair, my marriage was in pretty good shape when we had the “take-out” incident. My husband and I are a great team, but at times (like all couples) we are no match for the demands of our toddler son Blake. Stress from a little one can wear down anyone’s patience and test any marriage’s mettle.
With that, here’s what happened: Several months ago, I had a tiring day of work (I am a family mediator-lawyer, author and advice blogger), and my husband had his usual high-pressure day as an equities trader. The evening arrived and we fell into our typical routine. Our son was on the verge of walking and he was trying to climb everything in sight. One of us, therefore, needed to pay very close attention to him at all times to make sure he was safe. As usual, it was me who ended up being on surveillance duty. My husband was nearby, but somehow I was the one “in charge.” We had never verbally agreed to this division of power. It just happened. When I would use the bathroom or make a phone call, I had a nagging guilty feeling that I had to rush back to my duties.
On this seemingly uneventful night, we ordered take-out Chinese food and my husband announced that he would go pick it up. Dammit, I wanted to get out of the house for 15 minutes to get the take-out! It would have been nice to take a break! But I didn’t say this, because there I was sitting on the floor with our boy already in a serious game of building Lego towers. So I said nothing. And I slept on it.
By the next morning I was prepared for a difficult conversation. I couldn’t blame my husband for the situation; I tacitly agreed to it. And the truth is, how could he know what I wanted if I never said it. Now was the time to re-negotiate our evening parenting responsibilities. I took my own advice as a family mediator and I revealed my feelings without blaming him. I told him that I wasn’t asking for him to be in charge all of the time, or even half of the time. I just needed him to spend a portion of each night as the truly responsible party, so I could have a chance to truly relax, knowing our son was well taken care of.
I’m not kidding when I tell you this: From that day forward, my husband stepped up to the plate. He’s created fun little games with our son that they play every night. They have their own sayings and jokes. When our son needs his diaper changed during the “Daddy play period,” my husband does it, without yelling for my help. Our evenings as a family are more rewarding for everyone.
Thank goodness for take-out. It brought my resentment to the surface and I grabbed the opportunity to ask for some meaningful changes. Sometimes, you get what you ask for.