Author Topic: How to approach marriage time equity conversation  (Read 8477 times)

Gay Burqueño Dad

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How to approach marriage time equity conversation
« on: January 02, 2020, 12:30:21 PM »
Hi everyone,

This isn't really about Mustachianism (except that I want more time for cooking & DIY projects)… but hey.

So... my husband and I both work full time (36 & 40 hours). He works 3 12-hour shifts which we schedule to be almost always weekdays. I work 9-5. Our jobs are similarly draining (mine pays more but I don't think that is relevant for bean counting, since we both need to work in order to meet our financial goals). We have kids age 4&5 and have prek/kindergarten/before & after care available 6a-6p 5 days a week. (3 days a week is not really feasible due to schedule variability and is no cheaper). Pronoun / gender equity note: we're both men.

I've been feeling like I'm drowning in solo time caring for kids. Today I finally added things up... and I am doing quite a lot more. I do 31 hours of "regularly scheduled" solo kid care per week, my husband does 10-14. The difference is because (1) I do dropoffs/pickups on more days(2) I am constitutionally unable to sleep in so I end up getting up when they do every day while my husband sleeps in 4 days/wk. and (3) my husband has a bowling league for ~3 hours of awake children every week and the gym for ~6 hours of awake children every week. I have 6 hours of protected kid-free time per week (2 weekdays/wk. after work); he has 15-19 plus 6 that aren't guaranteed but usually do happen (weekend gym trips). There are occasional holidays/weekends when he has to work so I have to parent all day but no vice versa days.

The way weekdays work is pretty much set (although I guess I could allow my husband to be awoken by the children earlier 2 days/week.) Weekends are the main timeframe we have to play with. To date we've been roughly splitting them. Now I realize that that is unfair, and that it's why I feel like I'm doing a second shift of solo child care (once you add the way we're currently doing weekends, I have approximately 40 hrs/wk. of solo child care).

I don't necessarily need actuarial fairness and I think a bean-counting frame would cause my husband to raise his hackles. We're not necessarily in a bad place on this issue - in the past, when I've mentioned I need more kid-free weekend time (without getting into fairness or how much), he's said "Go for it!" But I haven't realized that I was doing dramatically more kid care until now (and my husband has been depressed for the past 4 months) so I haven't grasped this opportunity he's given me dispensation for with both hands.

 I think that a needs/wants-based approach to it is the way to go. I've scheduled a kid-free hike for this Saturday & my husband is fine with it.  My husband needs/wants to go to the gym every day on the weekends & go to bowling. I need/want to exercise, have a grownup social activity, & have 4-5 hours for cooking and maybe a DIY project. We both need a date in there, which we can make going to the climbing gym together which gets both of our exercise needs done. So, my idea for how to get this done is:
-I point out my weekend needs/wants and say what I think his are, ask if those are accurate.
-I propose my idea for how to schedule the weekend so we both get our needs/wants met.
-We have a discussion about it. Prior to the next weekend I do the same thing, and the next. (Planning things far into the future is not my husband's favorite thing so I think a weekend at a time is the way to go.)

Does that sound like a good approach? I'm not going to talk about the hours per se, but I guess if he points out that my proposal has more time for him solo-parenting on the weekend than me, I can reasonably and not-meanly point out that he gets 2 weekdays/week when the kids are in child care? If we get into a fight and can't resolve it then get a marriage counselor?
« Last Edit: January 02, 2020, 01:09:44 PM by Gay Burqueño Dad »

kei te pai

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Re: How to approach marriage time equity conversation
« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2020, 12:50:18 PM »
So, just as a reference point, how much time do you have as "do things together with kids" in a week?

MrUpwardlyMobile

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Re: How to approach marriage time equity conversation
« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2020, 12:55:34 PM »
I mean, have you ever just said “hey, I want to do x on y days from a-b, can you watch the kids?”  If not, this was a long post for something you could do in 2 minute conversation.  If you don’t offer up concrete plans, as he does with his plans, then you’re basically complaining that he isn’t asking for you about something that is really on you to ask.


affordablehousing

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Re: How to approach marriage time equity conversation
« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2020, 12:56:22 PM »
I think your post might freak a lot of people out as being to quote you "pretty actuarial" but I think you are just more honest than most parents are. We have struggled with the issues you raise and I know a neighbor who confided that they kept a spreadsheet for several months to data verify the inequity. I think it can be hard for a pattern to be broken in the wants/needs basis discussion as one partner has a history of documented wants/needs, and the precedent always makes that party feel like those are hard and fast requirements. For us, my partner needed to sign up for things that cost money, such that if I didn't step in, we'd be out some serious bucks for them to miss the activities. It's also harder to go back on something structured than something unstructured. Just my .02.

Freedom2016

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Re: How to approach marriage time equity conversation
« Reply #4 on: January 02, 2020, 12:57:30 PM »
I sympathize (our kids are 5 and 7).

You're right that bean counting will get pretty unproductive - at the margins anyway - although it's useful in identifying large discrepancies.

The way into the conversation might be about your respective needs for down time, recharging time, etc. And that you have been feeling like you're drowning, so did a little reflection to figure out why, and... well, whaddya know it turns out (for various justifiable reasons) that there's a lot of kid care falling disproportionately to you (I think you can share some of your number crunching here - in a non-accusatory, just information-sharing kind of way). And hey, can we work together to figure out a different division of labor that will help me get more recharging time?

The more you can enlist him in problem solving with you, the better.

The direct request approach upthread is also a good one.

[sidebar - for me it would be a pet peeve that someone NOT WORKING on a given day would sleep in and not participate in the morning routine with the kids. They could always go back to bed afterwards...]
« Last Edit: January 02, 2020, 01:00:13 PM by Freedom2016 »

Watchmaker

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Re: How to approach marriage time equity conversation
« Reply #5 on: January 02, 2020, 01:02:54 PM »
I don't necessarily need actuarial fairness and I think a bean-counting frame would cause my husband to raise his hackles. We're not necessarily in a bad place on this issue - in the past, when I've mentioned I need more kid-free weekend time (without getting into fairness or how much), he's said "Go for it!" But I haven't realized that I was doing dramatically more kid care until now (and my husband has been depressed for the past 4 months) so I haven't grasped this opportunity he's given me dispensation for with both hands.

He's been supportive of the idea of you having more alone time. Maybe just start taking that time?

Does that sound like a good approach? I'm not going to talk about the hours per se, but I guess if he points out that my proposal has more time for him solo-parenting on the weekend than me, I can reasonably and not-meanly point out that he gets 2 weekdays/week when the kids are in child care? If we get into a fight and can't resolve it then get a marriage counselor?


Your approach is reasonable enough; you may be overthinking things a bit. I was surprised to see you reference a marriage counselor at the end--unless there's part of the story missing, that seems like overkill.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2020, 01:08:25 PM by Watchmaker »

Gay Burqueño Dad

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Re: How to approach marriage time equity conversation
« Reply #6 on: January 02, 2020, 01:26:18 PM »
@kei te pai - Lately we've been doing about 4 hrs./wk. of "doing something together with the kids" - spend a weekend morning or afternoon all together doing something. But if you schedule that in with him getting up around 8 plus his 9 hours/weekend of relative non-negotiables, there's little time left in the weekend for me. I'm willing to give up the "doing things together" time on a regular basis for now - I think a weekly date is more important and it's something we're not currently doing. We newly have family in the area so a weekly date is now cheaper. :)

@MrUpwardlyMobile - I do that quite frequently - every weekend, really. It's a matter of quantity of stuff, though. The default so far is we each get approximately the same number of kid-free hours on the weekends, or he gets more given he has 9 more or less non-negotiable hours per weekend. But given that I only get a few kid-free hours on the weekdays, rough equality is not enough for me.

Also, I want time to do cooking & DIY projects, which often de facto end up with me doing almost as much kid-watching as he does, even if we pre-discuss and say he is "watching the kids" while I fix the kids' bikes/make food for the week/whatever. His kid-free time is outside the home or with the kids in child care, hence actually kid-free.

@affordablehousing - Yeah, that's definitely part of the issue. My husband can't miss bowling without letting people down, and he's severely overweight, so missing the gym is bad. My things are more flexible, so historically they have flexed disproportionately.

Edited to add: I just re-read your comment, and didn't get the whole thrust the first time. The implication is that I could sign up for some non-flexible activities. I'll have to think about that - nothing leaps to mind as a non-flexible activity I really want to do but hopefully my subconscious will come up with something! Maybe signing up for organized hikes every weekend is non-flexible enough, even though I do have to proactively keep signing up every week or two. I already started that this week, just have to keep it going.

@Freedom2016 - really good ideas, thanks!

@Watchmaker - the marriage counselor thing is not about the marriage being broken - it's not, overall we're pretty happy! But if we can't figure this particular piece out on our own, I do want some help figuring it out. Maybe "couples therapist" more exactly specifies the kind of help I'm open to than "marriage counselor." Also, we've had all kids of gyrations around this issue, so I know that it's a hot-button issue. (2 years ago we both worked too much, commuted too long, and there was simply not enough time so we were both pulling for more kid-free time. Last year, he was staying home so I took them on the weekends as much as humanly possible to preserve his sanity. ETA: Now, I think there is enough time in total for us each to get our needs met, but I'm not currently getting as much time as I need.)
« Last Edit: January 02, 2020, 01:47:08 PM by Gay Burqueño Dad »

Laura33

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Re: How to approach marriage time equity conversation
« Reply #7 on: January 02, 2020, 01:48:30 PM »
How is your husband managing his depression?  Is he getting therapy, on medication, etc.? 

I mention that as a FWIW because when I was in the thick of it, depression made me withdraw inside myself and need a lot more time alone; it took all my energy just to manage conversations with my DH or my kids, despite how much I loved them.  So DH ended up taking the lion's share with kid stuff by default, because I couldn't handle it.  I really was not a good partner, and I still kick myself for it sometimes, but I just couldn't be -- my own head was all I could handle. 

I may be reading way too much into it, but your DH's focus on his mandatory gymtime and such strike me as both ways to improve his mood and ways to grab himself de-pressured alone time without the guilt of seeing you running around taking care of stuff he knows he should be doing.  If he's not being appropriately treated, maybe getting that help would put him in a better place to engage.  Or if he is getting appropriate treatment, would it help your mental state to think of that time that he spends alone as "medical treatment"?  And are you getting any help dealing with his depression -- do you have a therapist you can talk to?  His depression makes things harder on you, too, and you deserve help and support as much as he does.

Not saying that you shouldn't raise the issue, btw -- it isn't fair that you are dealing with so much more of the kid duties, and you should always raise resentments before they start to fester.  And the way you framed it up sounds very fair and non-accusatory.  But the mention of his depression means that something else may be going on beyond the standard "you're not carrying your weight."  And if he can't carry through with much more than he's currently doing, maybe the answer is to accept that he is doing what he can now, and to find other ways to get you more time off, like paid babysitting or a "daddy's helper" from the neighborhood or something.

Anyway, good luck.  I feel for both of you.

Dee18

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Re: How to approach marriage time equity conversation
« Reply #8 on: January 02, 2020, 01:59:11 PM »
The info that he stayed home last year shifted my view a bit.  He may feel like he deserves more kid free time this year since he had way more kid duty time last year. 

Watchmaker

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Re: How to approach marriage time equity conversation
« Reply #9 on: January 02, 2020, 02:03:08 PM »
@kei te pai - Lately we've been doing about 4 hrs./wk. of "doing something together with the kids" - spend a weekend morning or afternoon all together doing something. But if you schedule that in with him getting up around 8 plus his 9 hours/weekend of relative non-negotiables, there's little time left in the weekend for me. I'm willing to give up the "doing things together" time on a regular basis for now - I think a weekly date is more important and it's something we're not currently doing. We newly have family in the area so a weekly date is now cheaper. :)

You have something like 32 hours of time awake on Saturday and Sunday, right? If you spend 4 hours doing something together with the kids and he does his 9 hours of bowling/gym, that leaves 19 hours up for grabs. Even allowing for scheduling inefficiencies, it doesn't sound like it should be hard for you to have 12 hours of kid free time on the weekends. It sounds like your problem is less about the time, and more about the kid free part, since the things you want to do are at home. Rather than you leaving, what about suggesting they (husband and kids) leave the house for a few hours to let you do your thing. Park, movies, brunch, whatever.

@Watchmaker - the marriage counselor thing is not about the marriage being broken - it's not, overall we're pretty happy! But if we can't figure this particular piece out on our own, I do want some help figuring it out. Maybe "couples therapist" more exactly specifies the kind of help I'm open to than "marriage counselor." Also, we've had all kids of gyrations around this issue, so I know that it's a hot-button issue. (2 years ago we both worked too much, commuted too long, and there was simply not enough time so we were both pulling for more kid-free time. Last year, he was staying home so I took them on the weekends as much as humanly possible to preserve his sanity.)
If some guaranteed alone time is really all you need to solve this problem, talking about bringing in a counselor still sounds like overkill to me (from what I know, which is obviously incomplete).


20957

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Re: How to approach marriage time equity conversation
« Reply #10 on: January 02, 2020, 02:18:25 PM »
Can you schedule some of your stuff for weekday mornings while he does the morning routine? Examples: leave for the gym, do a project in the basement. It would only be an hour or two but it might be a different more satisfying start to the day.

NonprofitER

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Re: How to approach marriage time equity conversation
« Reply #11 on: January 02, 2020, 02:20:16 PM »
I think most marriages and partnerships struggle with this stuff - especially when one person (due to logistics, work flexibility, gender roles, or whatever) becomes the default primary caregiver. 

The way we have broached this subject in my household is discussing the burden or mental load of visible AND invisible work, and occasionally working to re-calibrate with open communication.  Using these terms, we've been able to more equitably factor the workloads. Its impossible to keep balanced 50/50 in all things, all the time (work hours, childcare hours, liesure hours, housework etc.), but the occasional discussion/ back of the napkin tally of visible and invisible work loads helps us when we need re-balancing.

I hope this framework might be helpful in your discussions.  It's challenging to aim for constructive conversation and avoid tit-for-tat-ness!

Visible: work hours outside the home, preparing meals, housework/ cleaning, childcare taking (meal prepping, laundry, supervision, drop offs/ pick-ups, etc.), running errands (groceries, etc), and visible forms of leisure time, quality family time

Invisible: mental work of  managing housework (having the innate sense that its time to change the sheets, clean the bathrooms, etc. even if these tasks are delegated out), the mental work of meal planning, mental load of managing the finances, mental/social work of managing childcare (daycare emails, class parties, planning play dates), emotional work of managing social ties (usually one person in a relationship tends to be the default keeper of all things social responsibilities, IE extended family member's birthdays, mailing cards, picking up presents, planning family trips, staying in touch with family friends, etc).  Basically, less overt but still very real time, tasks or mental space that's occupied by family or household planning.



Gay Burqueño Dad

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Re: How to approach marriage time equity conversation
« Reply #12 on: January 02, 2020, 02:33:42 PM »
We have talked about it and my husband insists that I should take as much time as I want (while maintaining gym/bowling as sacred). So I'm going to schedule my weekends as packed with outside activities as I want them (which honestly is not super packed). Still not sure how to get my cooking/projects done without more kid "help" than I want since my husband does not want me dictating when he should leave the house with the kids, and doesn't plan his weekends in advance (so I can't plan my outings around the times when he plans to be at home with the kids).  Stay tuned!

@Dee18 - yeah, I think that's part of how this started. But given that both kids were in fulltime childcare at least 3 days/week starting last January, and my husband started work (and 5 day/week childcare) last May, I think it's reasonable to think that enough kid-decompression time has passed.

@Laura33 - Yeah, he's not managing it through any traditional means. My whole side of the family has had depression and does therapy/meds/etc. so I have recommended that many, many times and he is not interested. I think he does view gym/bowling as his "treatment" and I doubt that he will go to therapy or get meds anytime soon. However, he does think he's getting better from this bout of depression, and he thinks he can do significantly more than he's currently doing. He is naturally very good at kid-care and enjoys it a lot, so I believe him when he says he can do a lot more of it on the weekends.

Maybe I should get a therapist for myself, that's a really good idea!

@Watchmaker - I don't think your schedule accounts for the presence of kids or food. It takes 2 hrs/day to get ourselves & the kids ready for life. Then it takes 1 hr/day for wind-down & bed. (Both these figures are conservative). Not that all of those have to involve both of us, but given that we have two kids and they are both generally needy at those times, it takes some careful boundary-setting to avoid being sucked in if I'm even in the house in the morning or the evening. Plus there are lunches and dinners to be made. Realistically, if I'm going to talk to a grownup, exercise, make a large meal including leftovers for much of the week, have a date, and get some amount of DIY/financials/whatever done, that's going to take all of the non-gym/non-bowling time that exists in a weekend. And that's what I plan to do.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2020, 02:40:43 PM by Gay Burqueño Dad »

Gay Burqueño Dad

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Re: How to approach marriage time equity conversation
« Reply #13 on: January 02, 2020, 02:47:36 PM »
Thanks @NonprofitER . I think we need to have that discussion too (I believe I am bearing the brunt of most of the invisible work, and social tie management is mostly not happening) but I think I need a rejiggered weekend or two to decompress from kid-overload before I'll be in a good place for that discussion. New Year's - "Yay, the kids are home! With me... and only me." was the straw that broke the camel's back.

Gay Burqueño Dad

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Re: How to approach marriage time equity conversation
« Reply #14 on: January 02, 2020, 03:01:07 PM »
@20957 - That's a good idea. To date I've tried to let my husband sleep in, because he has to get up at 5 on workdays and is naturally more of a night owl, so he would otherwise be sleep deprived. Plus he mostly cannot nap! (A very sad condition IMO). But this may be a case of needing to put my oxygen mask on first. And, if he's capable of it, research says my husband would benefit from wrestling his bedtime earlier because he could then get up at a more consistent time while getting enough sleep in total.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2020, 03:03:06 PM by Gay Burqueño Dad »

Watchmaker

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Re: How to approach marriage time equity conversation
« Reply #15 on: January 02, 2020, 03:03:28 PM »
@Watchmaker - I don't think your schedule accounts for the presence of kids or food. It takes 2 hrs/day to get ourselves & the kids ready for life. Then it takes 1 hr/day for wind-down & bed. (Both these figures are conservative). Not that all of those have to involve both of us, but given that we have two kids and they are both generally needy at those times, it takes some careful boundary-setting to avoid being sucked in if I'm even in the house in the morning or the evening. Plus there are lunches and dinners to be made. Realistically, if I'm going to talk to a grownup, exercise, make a large meal including leftovers for much of the week, have a date, and get some amount of DIY/financials/whatever done, that's going to take all of the non-gym/non-bowling time that exists in a weekend. And that's what I plan to do.

I don't have kids, so it's certainly possible my assumptions aren't reasonable. But if it's taking 2 hours to get the family ready in the morning, I'd say there's significant scope for improved efficiency.

The list of things you want to accomplish on your weekends is significant; I think if I was doing all that, I wouldn't want to leave the house for any other reasons, even if I got some alone time. So maybe you could think about ways to improve efficiency in your life to get back more time overall, then it might not be as hard to carve out personal time.

wellactually

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Re: How to approach marriage time equity conversation
« Reply #16 on: January 02, 2020, 03:18:17 PM »
1. Depression

Agree with @Laura33 completely. I've had chronic depression and anxiety my whole life and had a couple bad times during marriage. DH had some situation depression during a three month period of unemployment. Having been on both sides of that, it's super exhausting. Depression is exhausting. Caring for someone who is depressed is exhausting. Sometimes you think you should just pull things together until the phase is over, but then you look up and 6 months have passed and its affecting all kinds of parts of your home.

So regardless of whether your husband gets additional treatment for his depression, you need to consider how to recharge yourself as a caregiver. But also some tough love is necessary here. When I was depressed, I felt guilty all the time, but the idea of trying to get help (after several failed attempts at help in the past) was even worse. Getting support for yourself, therapy or otherwise, might help you navigate how to encourage his own mental health.

2. Child Independence

Your kids sound like they are at a great age to step into some additional self-sufficiency. I'm not even quite at the start of parenthood, so this is aspirational for me! But I've got tons of childcare experience and several very needy nieces and nephews. My co-worker gets up at 4:30 so she can shower and blow dry her hair and do morning chores before she has to spend an hour getting her 8 year old awake, showered, dressed, and fed. That is not what you want! It sounds like you've got a lot of exhausting care time in the mornings and at bedtime. Dream big and imagine what parts of those routines the kids could start taking on themselves. Obviously that's going to vary kid to kid and change over time. But I've watched so many parents continue to take on 100% of their child's grooming and clothing until things are way too baked in. How could you design baby steps toward independence? Brushing teeth and hair is an option. Maybe it's picking out their own clothes. You may have to accept lower standards here as they learn.

Another component of this is independent play. When they get home from school, could there be a 30 minute time of independent play or rest in their room(s)? Maybe it's that there are a few low-supervision activities they can pick from while you're getting settled and getting dinner started (coloring, play outside, etc). On weekends, maybe one of the hours daddy is at the gym is quiet time for kiddos and dad. Set a timer and start with 10 minutes and work up to longer time. This will help your active kid time to be less taxing and likely help you enjoy active kid time more since you get a break.

Gay Burqueño Dad

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Re: How to approach marriage time equity conversation
« Reply #17 on: January 02, 2020, 03:33:07 PM »
@wellactually - Thanks re: depression. I have chronic depression too but I'm kind of at a loss as to how to encourage someone who is treatment-averse since in my side of the family treatment is just an accepted fact of life. My husband tried ONE medication once and has thus decided that no medication/therapy will help (or at least not enough to be worthwhile). I bet a therapist can give some good ideas as to how to encourage him. Even if this bout is actually getting better, there is sure to be another one someday.

2. Child independence. I actually have been making huge strides on this lately. My kids now have morning task lists & move from one to the next with minimal encouragement. But you're inspiring me for greater independence. Currently I still have to be involved in many of their morning chores (policing if they actually did their 2 minutes of tooth brushing; spraying their hair before they brush; etc.) Though this is way easier than before and lets me prep and eat my breakfast while they simultaneously get their chores done, I still can't go brush my teeth, dress, shower, etc. efficiently because of all the points at which I am involved in the kids' morning chores. I can think of ways to get them fully independent on each chore now that you have mentioned it; I just have to implement them. Egg timers for the tooth brushing; they can spray each other's hair; etc.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2020, 03:38:32 PM by Gay Burqueño Dad »

Laura33

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Re: How to approach marriage time equity conversation
« Reply #18 on: January 02, 2020, 04:19:35 PM »
@wellactually I'm kind of at a loss as to how to encourage someone who is treatment-averse since in my side of the family treatment is just an accepted fact of life.

Sounds like a great question to ask your own therapist!  ;-)

Seriously, though, I echo the tough love sentiment.  As you know from dealing with it yourself, the first thing depression does is convince you that there's nothing you can do, and it's soooooo hard to even try, so why bother?  For me, it took my boss at work (who I know thinks I'm great) telling me that I was going to go home and have my husband sit beside me while I looked up therapists in my network and called to make an appointment.  And that he was going to check up on me to make sure I did it.  So I am not surprised that your DH hasn't taken steps -- and given your own history, I'm not surprised that you have found a variety of reasons not to push the subject.  But this is something that needs to be done. 

As much as you love your husband, he cannot be the arbiter of his own mental health, because his opinion is biased from the disease.  And if you are feeling the effects of his disconnection, then he is not fine, no matter what he may think.  So it is your job, for your mental health, his mental health, and the health/stability of your family, to figure out how to get him to go see a professional.  Which means you should elevate your own search for a therapist to priority #1 so you can start figuring out what approach may have the best chance of getting through to him.

I'm sending you my very best wishes.  You are in a very tough spot, and you are doing an admirable job at managing it.  Your love for your family, your emotional maturity, your desire to make things work for everyone come through every word. 

Gay Burqueño Dad

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Re: How to approach marriage time equity conversation
« Reply #19 on: January 02, 2020, 04:26:04 PM »
@wellactually - Thanks for bringing your perspective. Someone who's not a parent but also has lots of childcare experience brings a special lens, which I appreciate.

I realized I didn't engage about independent play. We highly value independent play. We consciously chose to live in a neighborhood where our 4&5 year olds can go play outside unsupervised and we all absolutely love it in general. Blissful afternoons where the kids go play outside or at someone else's house in an impromptu playdate that I didn't have to arrange are common in good weather. Yet, the 4 year old struggles to find playmates in the winter. I think that it's probably natural and normal - in addition to the cold, there are usually no other kids outside in the winter, so she would have to knock on someone's door and ask to play. That's a lot to ask of a 4-year-old on her own.

So that leaves inside independent play or me finding her a playmate (maybe her sister, maybe someone else). She's very capable of holding attention for long periods of time on things she chooses. Where she struggles is rule-following; it's very common for there to be a mess, something broken, etc. after she plays by herself for 10 minutes. And then I have to intervene in order to get that cleaned up. I'm newly working on discipline - having clear rules and immediate consequences when they're broken. Hopefully that will bear fruit in rule-following and cleanup after messes are made. Being more proactive about setting playdates in seasons of bad weather is something to consider though I'm not sure I'm up to the additional invisible labor this week. Though maybe the looming unpleasantness of my husband working a 12-hour shift this Sunday will motivate me out of desperation :-) And spring will come very soon in New Mexico.

I think quiet time is an area where I can improve. We're very inconsistent about it, sometimes use separated quiet time as a punishment, etc. If it happened every weekend day, it weren't a punishment, and they could be in the same room together if they didn't argue, I could see it being a good way to gain 30+ minutes of peace per weekend day.

MayDay

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Re: How to approach marriage time equity conversation
« Reply #20 on: January 02, 2020, 04:50:50 PM »
I think it's wildly unreasonable to expect a 4/5 year old to get themselves ready independently. The best you can hope for is, like you said, doing periodic reminders while do something else intermittently.

Same with playing independently. The difference in my approach is that I let them break that toy. Fine, you learned a consequence. Now you don't have that toy and there is one less thing to clean up the next time you make a mess! Speaking of the mess, yep, age appropriate. You just clean it up once a ____ (at least once a day but we tended to do it before outings). You lead the kids on it and eventually you say "you have ten minutes to clean up, anything left is getting donated".  They'll clean up, or hey, you donate and now there is less to clean next time!


Gay Burqueño Dad

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Re: How to approach marriage time equity conversation
« Reply #21 on: January 02, 2020, 05:01:39 PM »
@MayDay - I agree with your assessments of what's developmentally reasonable. Yet, there are gradations within each category, and moving somewhat more towards the independent side helps tremendously. For example, as of mid-December, I was telling the kids what their next morning task was, and generally wrangling the 4-year-old to make her do every step of the way. Now that I have wisely changed screen time from "As soon as they get up they get screens for a while cuz I don't want to deal with kids first thing in the morning" to "After a child has finished her morning chores she gets some screen time if there is time left before we have to leave" they move from one task to another generally on their own and ask me for help when they need it. I don't have to track who has done what, nor convince the 4 year old that yes, today too, she has to get her teeth brushed.

Your approach to toys would be mine, but my husband disagrees. So every time a toy is to leave the house, he has to approve/deny. All of contemporary American culture is telling him that a room overflowing with toys is Absolutely Necessary For Happy And Healthy Children, so I can't blame him. We are actually very far on the minimalist end from our peer group (We have one toy chest... and all the toys fit in the toy chest and we keep it that way) but moving further is not something that we can agree upon at this time.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2020, 05:09:34 PM by Gay Burqueño Dad »

Gay Burqueño Dad

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Re: How to approach marriage time equity conversation
« Reply #22 on: January 02, 2020, 05:05:21 PM »
@Laura33 - thank you for your kind, heartfelt response that has a laser focus on mental health. I am coming around to believing that my husband's depression is a semi-hidden root cause here. You brought tears to my eyes and a phone to my ear. No one is open now, but inspired by you, I've left messages for a bunch of therapists in my network to see if they're taking new patients.

I should have had one active for myself anyway given my depression history but have neglected it :-)
« Last Edit: January 02, 2020, 06:50:53 PM by Gay Burqueño Dad »

mm1970

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Re: How to approach marriage time equity conversation
« Reply #23 on: January 02, 2020, 06:14:01 PM »
I think most marriages and partnerships struggle with this stuff - especially when one person (due to logistics, work flexibility, gender roles, or whatever) becomes the default primary caregiver. 

The way we have broached this subject in my household is discussing the burden or mental load of visible AND invisible work, and occasionally working to re-calibrate with open communication.  Using these terms, we've been able to more equitably factor the workloads. Its impossible to keep balanced 50/50 in all things, all the time (work hours, childcare hours, liesure hours, housework etc.), but the occasional discussion/ back of the napkin tally of visible and invisible work loads helps us when we need re-balancing.

I hope this framework might be helpful in your discussions.  It's challenging to aim for constructive conversation and avoid tit-for-tat-ness!

Visible: work hours outside the home, preparing meals, housework/ cleaning, childcare taking (meal prepping, laundry, supervision, drop offs/ pick-ups, etc.), running errands (groceries, etc), and visible forms of leisure time, quality family time

Invisible: mental work of  managing housework (having the innate sense that its time to change the sheets, clean the bathrooms, etc. even if these tasks are delegated out), the mental work of meal planning, mental load of managing the finances, mental/social work of managing childcare (daycare emails, class parties, planning play dates), emotional work of managing social ties (usually one person in a relationship tends to be the default keeper of all things social responsibilities, IE extended family member's birthdays, mailing cards, picking up presents, planning family trips, staying in touch with family friends, etc).  Basically, less overt but still very real time, tasks or mental space that's occupied by family or household planning.
This is so good.  And it's so easy to get lost in the shuffle.  I don't get many dates with my husband, but we walked to the grocery store on our lunch breaks today (we work a block from each other).  We talked about stress, how tired we are, how tired we are of cooking, etc.  And some of the things come with time - your perception changes.  He said "well, that's why you changed your schedule to work late, so you wouldn't have to cook!"

Um, no.  I started working late because my job changed, and I had 2-3 meetings a week that go until 6 pm.  So you HAD to pick up the kids.  And you had one day a week where you had to go in early, not the same day.  To avoid having different schedules on different days, which I personally think will end in disaster, we swapped schedules.  That puts the burden of cooking on him. 

"Oh yeah".  He totally forgot that.  He was starting to feel the burden of cooking was all on him because I didn't want to do it.  Similarly, we have a LOT of appointments.  Dentists, doctors, kid dentist, orthodontist, vet for our new rescue dog, etc.  I used to track them ALL and do more than half.  But I cannot anymore.  I asked him to make an appointment to see a doctor about his snoring, and he snapped at me with all the appointments.  I said simply "you have been snoring, and promising me you'd talk to a doctor, since October of 2018."  Really that long?  "Yes. And it feels like you do not care that I cannot sleep."

We have been using shared calendars, and it has really helped both of us realize the mental load that we carry.  We are both middle aged, with children that are WORK.  We are both pretty tired.  I have worked hard over the last couple of years to take what I need.  I need sleep.  I need exercise.  I need healthy food.  Thus: I go to bed at 8:30 pm.  Before the children.  I only do bedtime routine if he is traveling, and they know it's bedtime earlier.  I stopped fighting the fight to get bedtime to be earlier.  He is a night owl.  It does not bother him if the kids aren't asleep until 9 or 9:30.  Likewise I get up at 5 to go to the gym every day.

He does not get enough sleep and he does not exercise.  I cannot make him do that.  He is an adult and will do it when he gets around to it.  It sounds like you just need to decide what you need and take it.  For me it really was the going to bed at 8:30.  Laura is, as usual, very wise.

Gay Burqueño Dad

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Re: How to approach marriage time equity conversation
« Reply #24 on: January 02, 2020, 06:45:59 PM »
@mm1970 -
Yeah, the types of discussions you mention are why we need weekly date nights. There is otherwise no good time for them (among other talks). We are getting a date this Saturday! I need to remember that lunchtime dates are an option. Thanks for reminding me!

OMG, going to bed before the kids sounds FREAKING AMAZING. What a mindspace-expanding idea!

Currently, our bedroom is directly below a kid who likes to bang on the floor so I doubt I would get to sleep before she goes to sleep though. We want to swap her room with the guest room, though, so it could happen after that project is complete! And even before that, I could be in bed reading and getting drowsy with the noise machine on :-)

Where we are on appointments is pretty good actually. I do the invisible labor, my husband does the visible labor (since he has some weekdays off). I only started resenting it in the past few months so thinking about it again makes me realize that appointments aren't a problem, it's the rest of the work division that makes the invisible appointment labor feel like too much.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2020, 06:51:59 PM by Gay Burqueño Dad »

Captain FIRE

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Re: How to approach marriage time equity conversation
« Reply #25 on: January 02, 2020, 07:32:10 PM »
I understand that I have only one kid (although younger), and two is more work, but holy moly, 2 hours to get ready in the morning seems totally crazy and quite ripe to introduce efficiencies.  I'm hoping you are just exaggerating there.

I agree with working on more independent play.  It's something we're working on too.  What do you mean by a mess or broken?  One thing that helps is to make consequences of "mess" less significant.  When he was a baby and crawling/starting to walk, we gated off the room we were in most often and had that pretty childproofed so we could sit on the couch and rest.  Things like crayons/markers/pencils are not left out where he can draw on the walls when unattended (and markers are washable).  So maybe curate the toys to those less breakable/less capable of mess (e.g. colored pencils rather than markers).  Have fewer toys available for playtime if needed.  And learn to be ok with toys being out and messy until independent play is over. 

It sounds like you'll get pulled into morning/evening routine if you are there, so either you need to work on setting better boundaries or you need to be out of the house/obviously unavailable then.  You could probably ease into the better boundaries by a few weeks of being out of the house first.  But yes, you need to learn to speak up to say what you need, enlist your husband's help to be more proactive in engaging the children during this time, and teach the children you are busy if you can't interact with them.  Everyone needs to learn new routines.  :)  Also, just to push back on the you time, do you need as much as you say?
 You said you need time for cooking, but can't they learn to cook with you?  Yes, it definitely takes longer, but my kid likes to "help" sometimes and I am still able to cook then.  Or ask your husband to prep/cook on the weekdays he's at home.  (As a side note, he may not be doing child care, but he is doing other household work during this time?  Maybe rejiggering the balance of household responsibilities is another solution.)

I'd be careful in how much change you introduce at once.  I don't know much about depression, but I can see you getting that relief you need only to have your spouse start to feel worn down.  Can you look into hiring a helper to entertain the kids some days?  Not necessarily full on babysitting but a 10-12 year old who can be paid less because you are around/they are are learning.  Also, sometimes it may be after a short getaway to recharge, such as a weekend away, you just need a little change - such as a few hours to yourself one weekend day.  The weekend away can also make a spouse appreciate the away spouse more than they might otherwise!

Ultimately, keep in mind this is a short a term problem for you given their ages.  I'm pregnant with our second and our first is not yet 3, so I'm looking at a much longer timeframe to free time! 

Gay Burqueño Dad

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Re: How to approach marriage time equity conversation
« Reply #26 on: January 03, 2020, 09:35:34 AM »
@Captain FIRE -

2 hours to get ready in the morning is the reality. Note, this is from when I get up to when we leave and includes my morning stuff, packing food for me & at least one kid, etc. I am working on getting it lower, but it is a slow process. Yes, one can pack food at night, but then that's one more thing to do at night; it just moves the work around.

Yeah... the 4-year-old is relatively inclined towards more problematic messes than average. I have a couple holes in the drywall in her room I still need to fix (there was a pre-existing weakness in the drywall), marks on her door from her boots, pencil on the walls, one time a sharpie was left out and that was a problem, etc. Yes, those things don't actually impair life, but someday this house will be sold and those things will need to be dealt with eventually. I don't care about toys on the floor (until the end of the day when it is time to clean them up) but currently when I let her free play at home with no friends it is fairly likely to result in something that is actual work for me to fix (yes, I have her "help" to learn but she is 4 so the "help" increases the time). We are working on it, but this kid is just significantly more "spirited" than most other kids. Quiet time / independent play is no problem for her sister.

Unfortunately, my husband and I have different food preferences. He can and does eat pasta and prepackaged food all week long, whereas I desire and think I need for health and thriftiness more of a variety of food that he finds unappetizing. (He is pretty far on the spectrum of being a picky eater; our peer group and family generally finds my food delicious.) So asking him to do "my" cooking is a non-starter. Asking that he regularly go shopping on his days off is more of a possibility.

My husband does do close to 100% of the "real cleaning" (as opposed to tidying, dishes, wiping down counters) and kid-laundry and this generally occurs on his days off. However, he also does have significantly more leisure time than I do - the gym, Netflix, and voluntarily picking the kids up hours early from childcare to go do something fun for them are also part of his weekday-off routine.

Cooking and most projects can and do happen with the kids around and I definitely include them in the things they can do. I suspect we'll end up with that as the end-state and I'll be happier to have them around once I take more outside-the-home kid-free time.

I think we do need an overall rejiggering of household responsibilities. Aside from finance, DIY projects, and yard maintenance being on my side of the ledger and cleaning/laundry being on his, we've sleepwalked into a something like a stereotypical male/female two-income gender role division where I'm doing a "second shift" and his responsibilities, though significant, don't add up to as much. I'm interested by the apparent gender split in the comments and think it's not an accident.

Captain FIRE

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Re: How to approach marriage time equity conversation
« Reply #27 on: January 03, 2020, 09:59:15 AM »
I have really tried to avoid commenting about gender, but I have to tell you I really wanted to write that same sex relationships really are just like opposite sex ones!  Except 1) I pretty much already knew that and 2) I'm pretty sure that's offensive so let's pretend I didn't say anything.  :)

Believe me when I say I understand spirited, active child.  My kid took his first steps at 8.5 mos, solidly walking at 10, and wants to explore and get into *everything*.  It's evident watching him at daycare or seeing other friends kids he's on the very high side of active.  You can't prevent all messes, but I still think you can minimize them (no unsupervised pens, markers, pencils!).  Maybe also work on independent play in your eye sight, so you can be cooking say, and speak up if there's  a problem, but you're not sitting on the floor with her.  And make sure there are logical consequences for mistakes.  You made marks on the door with your boots?  You get to help scrub the marks off the door. 

Even if he has different food preferences, he can still help out with the cooking, or at least the tedious prep work.  It's simply something that needs to be done, like laundry.  Perhaps package it as either he can chip in with this on his alone time, or he needs to figure out how to give you X hours of kid-free time on the weekend for you to do it (that does NOT overlap with kid-free leisure time).  And that means either he needs to take the kids out of the house or he needs to be much more active/aggressive in rechanneling the kids when they come to you during that time.  Of course there's room to compromise here too - e.g. X nights a week, you eat his easier style food.  For another compromise -
if he wants to sleep in most days, maybe he takes over all bedtime routines and you take over the morning routines.

We are out the door, everyone showered, dressed, fed (ok, kid only fed, but by choice we bring breakfast in if we eat it which is an option for you), and yes, a lunch made for the kid/sometimes adults within an hour.  I imagine we'll add on some time for kid two but nowhere near an hour, and we'll save some time as kid one will learn to put on clothes himself in the next year/stop needing/wanting an adult in the bathroom with him every time he uses it.  Even when my husband travels and it's just me getting him ready, it's still an hour or sometimes less, as we have one less shower to fit in.

seemsright

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Re: How to approach marriage time equity conversation
« Reply #28 on: January 03, 2020, 03:29:41 PM »
I am going to chime in: preschoolers are HARD. I have a rock solid marriage and when our 9 year old was a preschooler it shook our marriage foundation to the core. Our DD was so hard at 4 you could not pay me all of the money in the world to do that age again.

Leave the small to dos on the list. Take care of what you must do...the hole in the wall can wait.

 Give the 4 year old a can of foam shaving cream and let them go to town on the kitchen floor while you drink a cup of coffee and read a book. Then when they are done playing...a perfect place to practice their letters. You mop up the kitchen floor (the best thing I ever found to clean the floor) and you put the kid in the tub. I was always able to get about 3 hours of time with the trick.   

Sandi_k

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Re: How to approach marriage time equity conversation
« Reply #29 on: January 03, 2020, 09:50:13 PM »
We are DINKs, but have been together for 20+ years, and have recently moved so that I am out of the house for 12 hours per day (commute + work) 4 days per week. As a result, we had to optimize and do better at re-negotiating our previous routine.

FI is great, but divorce is expensive. For the time while you still have pre-schoolers, I would say that DIY is not something that needs to be preserved in every area.

For example: I would be hiring a mother's helper 2x per week while food prep is being done; I'd be using delivery for groceries, with a standard weekly list; I would be dropping off laundry to a wash-and-fold service to get back time...

One way we dealt with inequities in the chores list early on was a simple notation system on the fridge; I'd enter date, length of time, and task, e.g., Sandi, 45 mins, Jan 2, dishes.

At the end of the month, we'd total up the length of time we'd each spent, and pay one another the differential. We used $18 per hour as the average cost, and if I spent two hours more than DH on tasks that month, he owed me $18 (I would have paid a housecleaner $9, and he would have paid $9). If he didn't want to lose cash, he had to look at the list, and step up.

By month 2, he was identifying things that he could do to even the time, and by month 6, we were close to 50/50 in terms of time spent on household chores.

The money "hit" isn't as substantial/obvious if your funds are completely co-mingled, but ours are not. So the pain was real, and so was the progress. ;)

Gay Burqueño Dad

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Re: How to approach marriage time equity conversation
« Reply #30 on: January 06, 2020, 08:55:09 AM »
So, to update anyone who's reading, I have:

-Identified the feeling I have as "burnout"
-Made an appointment with a therapist
-Laid out what I want to my husband. He hasn't processed it enough to be ready for give-and-take yet, but I told him that I need to get started ASAP because of how burnt out I am. So we are starting with my proposed schedule (which has almost equal hours of solo kid time and kid-free time, at least in the way I am counting things). I would guess he'll be ready to talk more later this week. (It's typical for him to take a number of days to process emotional info, and this is a rather big piece.)

A hike on Saturday and yoga this morning made all day with the kids yesterday so much better.

Laura33

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Re: How to approach marriage time equity conversation
« Reply #31 on: January 06, 2020, 10:25:12 AM »
So, to update anyone who's reading, I have:

-Identified the feeling I have as "burnout"
-Made an appointment with a therapist
-Laid out what I want to my husband. He hasn't processed it enough to be ready for give-and-take yet, but I told him that I need to get started ASAP because of how burnt out I am. So we are starting with my proposed schedule (which has almost equal hours of solo kid time and kid-free time, at least in the way I am counting things). I would guess he'll be ready to talk more later this week. (It's typical for him to take a number of days to process emotional info, and this is a rather big piece.)

A hike on Saturday and yoga this morning made all day with the kids yesterday so much better.

Great start!  Really glad to hear it.  It's also great that you know your husband well enough to know how he needs to process things, and that you are ok with giving him the space he needs to do that.

Gay Burqueño Dad

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Re: How to approach marriage time equity conversation
« Reply #32 on: January 06, 2020, 11:04:13 AM »
Thanks @Laura33 ! You and the others on this post were a big help! :-)
« Last Edit: January 06, 2020, 11:08:25 AM by Gay Burqueño Dad »

researcher1

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Re: How to approach marriage time equity conversation
« Reply #33 on: January 06, 2020, 11:38:51 AM »
I've been feeling like I'm drowning in solo time caring for kids. Today I finally added things up... and I am doing quite a lot more.

Lately we've been doing about 4 hrs./wk. of "doing something together with the kids"
I'm willing to give up the "doing things together" time on a regular basis for now.

So I'm going to schedule my weekends as packed with outside activities as I want them.

So we are starting with my proposed schedule (which has almost equal hours of solo kid time and kid-free time, at least in the way I am counting things)

What you have described is NOT a family.

It is more of a contractual obligation requiring each of you to work xx hours/week babysitting kids, and actively trying to minimize the time you spend as a “family.”

This sounds like a very cold, business like environment.
You've provided little to no discussion of spending quality time together as a family, or what might be best for your two young kids.

There are over 100 hours waking hours in a given week, yet you only spend 4 hours together as a family?????
That is really sad.  Yet your solution is to spend even LESS time as a family, in favor of further maximizing your personal alone time.
« Last Edit: January 06, 2020, 12:01:22 PM by researcher1 »

Gay Burqueño Dad

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Re: How to approach marriage time equity conversation
« Reply #34 on: January 06, 2020, 12:01:25 PM »
@researcher1 - It's 4 hrs/week on some kind of Outing going somewhere together outside the home. I actually think that is plenty, & my proposal doesn't give that up. The kids have great childcare during the week but it is a lot of time in structured activities. The kids need some unstructured time to just be kids and the weekends are most of when we can do that.

All kinds of meals together, reading together, playing games together, and hanging out together still happens. It's not counted in that 4 hrs/week.

The kids have a wonderful, nurturing life and I really don't have any concerns there. We have made that a priority and implemented it fine. It's how it happens that is changing.

My husband and I have always (especially post-kids) had warm give-and-take where we're each looking out for each other and will continue to. But the amount I was previously giving, I didn't actually have available to give long-term. That doesn't work. I needed to reset the starting point back to something close to equality in order for us to evolve it to something great & workable long-term.

researcher1

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Re: How to approach marriage time equity conversation
« Reply #35 on: January 06, 2020, 12:27:00 PM »
@researcher1 - It's 4 hrs/week on some kind of Outing going somewhere together outside the home. I actually think that is plenty, & my proposal doesn't give that up.

All kinds of meals together, reading together, playing games together, and hanging out together still happens. It's not counted in that 4 hrs/week.

But the amount I was previously giving, I didn't actually have available to give long-term. That doesn't work. I needed to reset the starting point back to something close to equality in order for us to evolve it to something great & workable long-term.

You've spent a great deal of time and energy in calculating you & your partner's share of "solo kid time" and "solo kid-free time" and are solely fixated on these buckets, with absolutely no mention of "family time". 

You say your "proposal" doesn't give up your 4 hrs/week of family time, but you explicitly said "I'm willing to give up the "doing things together" time on a regular basis for now."

I'd be curious to know how much additional time is spent 'hanging out together', beyond the 4 hours you mentioned previously.
For a couple in a committed relationship with two young kids, it seems like there is an awful lot of time dedicated to "solo kid-free time." 

Gay Burqueño Dad

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Re: How to approach marriage time equity conversation
« Reply #36 on: January 06, 2020, 01:11:53 PM »
@researcher1 I appreciate your perspective. We may evolve in that direction as time goes on. Right now, getting to a minimum of self-care time and 1:1 couple time must happen. We won't have my mental health or a strong relationship without that and everything else depends on those things.

ETD something about research that I don't want to get into.
« Last Edit: January 06, 2020, 01:48:27 PM by Gay Burqueño Dad »

researcher1

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Re: How to approach marriage time equity conversation
« Reply #37 on: January 06, 2020, 01:50:31 PM »
I'm not aware of research showing that two-parent-with-kid(s) time has important developmental outcomes.

You need clinical research to feel that kids spending quality time with both parents is a good thing, versus having isolated/segregated interactions with just 1 parent (while the other is always gone doing their own thing)?

This comment in particular seemed off..."I'm willing to give up the "doing things together" time on a regular basis for now."
That sounds awfully close to describing a broken, divorced home life.

honeybbq

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Re: How to approach marriage time equity conversation
« Reply #38 on: January 06, 2020, 01:52:08 PM »
I have high needs for "Getting out and DOING stuff" both with and without kids, so I am more like your husband here than you maybe, but here are some things I do to try and 'balance' the time I need with family/spouse/etc.

Our YMCA has a play area for the kiddos so that we could both work out at the same time. Not sure if your exercise time includes gym or not but might be worth looking into. Kids love it, we both get to work out however we want, and it's "free".

Get a bike trailer and bike around with the kids in tow. Find a playground 5 miles away. Bike there, let them play, bike back.

4 and 5 year olds can also hike. Maybe you are doing long get-away hikes, but introduce your kids to hiking now, and they will be able to keep up with you when they are older. My daughter can do 8 miles RT right now, and hoping to increase her ability.

In a few years, if you like running, you can run while your kids bike along side of you.

If I need "ME" time, I get up early. Like I leave for my hike or my long run before anyone in the house is awake. I try to get back reasonably quickly and have time to spend with the family or to give my spouse a break for his needs.

Weekends away: we both schedule weekends away for hobbies. So I might go somewhere out of town (fly or a long drive) for a hockey tournament or a race. He has his own weekends to do his hobbies as well. We try to be fair and equitable in our distribution of these times and spaces according to our needs.

Anyways, I think your situation is relatively NORMAL for married couples. Sometimes the pendulum swings too far one way and you have to constructively get it back in the middle. Have some conversations with your spouse, explain your needs, maybe not bean-count but describe the distribution of free time as non-equitable.  Good luck!

Giro

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Re: How to approach marriage time equity conversation
« Reply #39 on: January 07, 2020, 07:19:14 AM »
Just find a gym with childcare.


Gay Burqueño Dad

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Re: How to approach marriage time equity conversation
« Reply #40 on: January 07, 2020, 09:29:43 AM »
@Giro - jeez, what an obvious piece of the puzzle, thanks! Inspired by you, I found one with hours that work & childcare, hopefully my husband likes it! WAY cheaper than an equivalent amount of babysitting, and no one has to do the invisible labor of setting up babysitting or papa's helper schedule forever.

jeninco

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Re: How to approach marriage time equity conversation
« Reply #41 on: January 07, 2020, 10:15:28 AM »
I've been reading along, and am wishing you all the best.

One thing I did for just plain exercise was (as honeybbq mentioned) run on relatively flat trails with a kid on a bike keeping me company. We managed to talk (somewhat), and I could give him a boost on hilly sections. It also got us out of the house and into the sunshine. Hiking with kids is less "exercise", more "get outside" for a while, though.

Good luck!

Gay Burqueño Dad

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Re: How to approach marriage time equity conversation
« Reply #42 on: January 07, 2020, 11:06:50 AM »
@jeninco - Yeah, I spend a good portion of my solo time with the kids "hiking" (more accurately, playing in nature).

I also sometimes run while one or both bike. It's not a sure thing to get the 4-year-old to go at all, or to go any reasonable distance for fitness. Also, their bikes both currently need to be fixed, whether by me or a shop. One of the bikes has been languishing ever since winter started (we are in New Mexico, so there are a good number of winter days that are still bike riding weather). That languishing points to how we may need to address our division of non-kid labor. And maybe I sold our bike trailer too soon!

My husband will sometimes bike along with us, but having the kids along kills hiking for him because he wants to make forward progress.

MrThatsDifferent

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Re: How to approach marriage time equity conversation
« Reply #43 on: January 07, 2020, 10:32:20 PM »
I'm not aware of research showing that two-parent-with-kid(s) time has important developmental outcomes.

You need clinical research to feel that kids spending quality time with both parents is a good thing, versus having isolated/segregated interactions with just 1 parent (while the other is always gone doing their own thing)?

This comment in particular seemed off..."I'm willing to give up the "doing things together" time on a regular basis for now."
That sounds awfully close to describing a broken, divorced home life.

Research—You don’t need to be so Judgmental. They are a family and they are navigating this like everyone else. It isn’t easy and no one has all the answers. I admire him for his honesty and willingness to work on solutions, and take care of himself. Too many families have absent fathers, whether in the house or gone for good.

Ease up and back off, you’ve had your say.

researcher1

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Re: How to approach marriage time equity conversation
« Reply #44 on: January 08, 2020, 07:34:37 AM »
Research—You don’t need to be so Judgmental. They are a family and they are navigating this like everyone else. It isn’t easy and no one has all the answers. I admire him for his honesty and willingness to work on solutions, and take care of himself. Too many families have absent fathers, whether in the house or gone for good.

Ease up and back off, you’ve had your say.
The entire point of this sub forum, "Ask a Mustachian", is to receive feedback about whatever situation you post about.
He asked about navigating through being a family and I gave my opinion. 
Are we only supposed to share opinions that make the OP (or other posters) feel warm & fuzzy?

I also admire his honesty, but does that mean we should be dishonest with our feedback?
Should we just sugarcoat our responses and give him a pat on the back?
Or should we highlight problem areas for him to think about?

It shouldn't be controversial to suggest that the OP giving up all time spent as a family is not a great solution!

Captain FIRE

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Re: How to approach marriage time equity conversation
« Reply #45 on: January 08, 2020, 08:58:37 AM »
While constructive criticism can be helpful (and OP took your comments very well), it can also be worthwhile to recognize that sometimes you need to put on your own life jacket first.  Here, OP is at wits end, so the immediate issue is figuring out how to get him more down time so he doesn't have a mental breakdown, and secondarily, figure out a long-term plan for the family that includes a good balance of work/home/personal/family time.  This is why suggestions on how to accomplish getting more time back - like Giro's suggestion of a gym with childcare (which I foolishly assumed the OP had already considered so didn't propose) - are particularly valuable.  Suggestions on how to negotiate the remaining time with the spouse are also useful, but probably a bit less so.

I agree that more family time in the long run is good, but I'm confident they can navigate that themselves once everyone is on an even keel (e.g. more time for OP, depression issues for spouse looked into/resolved).

I think MrThatsDifferent is probably also reacting to your challenging tone.  You don't need to walk on eggshells, but oftentimes the medicine goes over better with a spoonful of sugar, or in other words, sometimes the message is fine but the delivery can be improved so it's better heard.*

*Written by one whom sometimes takes a more challenging tone than ideal.

Gay Burqueño Dad

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Re: How to approach marriage time equity conversation
« Reply #46 on: January 08, 2020, 09:16:45 AM »
Thanks, @Captain FIRE and @MrThatsDifferent . I had consciously chosen to disengage from @researcher1 because of their tone.

I will note, the perspective (though not the delivery) was helpful, so I would encourage you @researcher1 to continue to voice potentially hard truths in this forum (though please do think about tone and try to put yourself in the other person's shoes). I am thinking that the weekend time we will hopefully get back by using a gym with childcare can, in the long term, be family time.

But, I stand by my conviction that family time is/was far from a top priority in the short term given that I am/was in burnout crisis from kid overload (and family time involves additional kid exposure).
« Last Edit: January 08, 2020, 09:37:59 AM by Gay Burqueño Dad »

Laura33

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Re: How to approach marriage time equity conversation
« Reply #47 on: January 08, 2020, 09:32:00 AM »
He asked about navigating through being a family and I gave my opinion. 

Yeah, no.  You said they weren't a "family," and you have questioned their commitment to being together.  That is insulting and hurtful -- and very likely particularly insulting to two gay dads who for most of their lives didn't even have the legal right to marry and be a family, and who probably to this day hear snide, underhanded, plausible-deniability comments suggesting that they aren't a real "family" even now. 

You can give constructive feedback without being personally insulting.  The fact that someone sat down and tracked the specifics of something that was bothering him isn't exactly novel for this particular forum, now, is it?  I swear, the number of people here who run their lives based on Excel is kinda scary sometimes.  He also very specifically noted that his conversations with his husband were not based on bean-counting, but that instead he'd done the tracking to confirm or deny his own impression that he was carrying a lot more of the load.  Again, that is something that normal people do when they're dealing with a partner who doesn't seem to see any difference -- you want to make sure you're not overreacting and your concerns are real before you raise them (ask me how I know).  It does not mean they are not a family, it does not mean they are not committed to each other, it does not mean they don't want to spend time together, and your suggestions to the contrary are a negative distraction to the conversation.  If you want to help, offer real suggestions instead of insulting their relationship and commitment to each other and their kid. 

Gay Burqueño Dad

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Re: How to approach marriage time equity conversation
« Reply #48 on: January 08, 2020, 10:22:21 AM »
As usual, @Laura33 saw into the emotional reality, beyond what I was able or willing to say here/admit to myself. I did find your comments hurtful, @researcher1 , and the thought of potential anti-gay bias did cross my mind. The "not a family" comment, yes - but also it felt to me that you were cherrypicking statements & not giving benefit of the doubt. I hoped it was because you had had had negative experience with divorce / separation / broken marriage and thus were extra-sensitive to the potential for it in someone else, or because you had a fairly rigid view of how families should work, but anti-gay bias was also in my mind as a possibility.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2020, 10:34:05 AM by Gay Burqueño Dad »

Goldielocks

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Re: How to approach marriage time equity conversation
« Reply #49 on: January 08, 2020, 10:59:42 AM »
Lots of good responses, my quick take away:

1)  Your husband needs to find a gym with child care, especially on the weekends.  He gets in gym time, and you get 2 hours of time on your own.   Or he doesn't ever have to miss gym time even if you plan an all day hike with friends a couple of times a month.   Switching gyms or adding a second weekend gym should not be a non-negotiable for a Dad.

2)  You go to bed / have quiet you time in the evenings, and he puts kids to bed.  You just "retire" early, 1 hr before kids do, and read or PC or whatever you like.

3) Don't  include your early waking / taking care of kids as your tracked on duty time.  Sure you can track it and let him know, but in your own mind, let it not "count".   People don't work that way.   You have to realize that you are an early riser so even if he did choose to take over mornings, you will still be up, and as you are a very good Dad, you will still be interacting with the kids.   Instead, have some of that time as your cherished one to one breakfast time with the kids (It shouldn't be a fight / yell fest, with 2 hours to get ready, right?)

IMO, this is normal human stuff and not therapist -required.   Just do it.   Have a standing agreement that you can take off last minute on Saturdays even if you did not make other plans, that he is on the hook for figuring out the kids.