Reader questions - husbands / partners

Reader questions – husbands / partners

Reader questions - husbands / partners

Today’s post answers reader questions on the topic of husbands and partners. You can read previous answers to readers’ questions here.

Any suggestions how to get my husband on board with being organised? He refuses to get involved. I send him email links and podcasts and he just won’t pay them any attention. I really feel his life (and ours) will benefit from the ones I send him but they get ignored really. He has a very busy working life and is very involved with the children’s activities etc but doesn’t seem to want any help in how to make things work better or easier. I feel I’ve hit a brick wall with him.

When Phil started doing much more in the home, it happened because we sat down and explicitly talked about it. It sounds like you are in the home more than your husband and therefore you are more likely to see and notice things than he is. Often the reality is if it doesn’t affect them directly and they are working long hours, they are unlikely to give it any attention. This isn’t necessarily because they don’t want to help or do the activity but they may not be aware of it. Especially if you are keeping on top of things, they may not see the work that goes into it – this is something you need to let him know.

When it comes to much of the home organising and parenting issues, I act as a filter for Phil and tell him the info he needs to know and chat about his role in it. For us, Phil is often happy for me to just tell him what he needs to do. He doesn’t want to have to be a mind reader or have to be on the look out for certain things. He prefers to be able to have a task schedule it in his diary so it sends him a reminder to do it.

Talking about how you want to allocate the parenting and household workload is key and it is something that needs to be reviewed regularly. There are different seasons of family life where things may need to swing more to one end of the pendulum than the other. This situation is always more tolerable for all parties if it is discussed in advance.

How do you and your husband resolve differences in opinions re parenting related items (if you ever have them as I get the sense that you’re very well aligned)?

I would say we are aligned on about 90% of parenting decisions. On those decisions that we are not aligned with we try and talk it through. If we cannot come to an agreement, we tend to then lead towards the approach that one of us is the most passionate about. If I don’t agree with something Phil wants to do or say with the kids, but it isn’t something that is key to the way I parent, then I will support Phil. We aim to have a united front when dealing with the kids as much as possible.

If it is something that we both feel strongly about and cannot come to an agreement upon then there will be times where we choose to parent differently. This is something that has only probably happened as the kids have grown older and we simply explain that mum and dad see things differently and we have different approaches for how we deal with this. We don’t talk about why we think our approach is better / more appropriate and are not hostile to how the other handles those situations, but we allow the other the space to parent in their way.

How do you get your partner on board with meal planning?

Meal planning in our house has always been led by me as I am the one who cooks the most. Up until the last few years, I cooked every night, but then it changed to Phil cooking one day on the weekend, and then during our extended lockdown last year due to COVID-19, he started cooking one day during the week.

Prior to this, Phil’s involvement in the meal planning process was choosing some meals he wanted for the month (you can see my monthly menu planning process here) and when I needed to, I would delegate the shopping to him.

Now as you can see in the most recent monthly menu plan here I have published on the blog, I allocate meals I know Phil can cook on the weekend night he cooks, but I simply leave Wednesday nights blank. He prefers to work it out on the day or the day before and get the ingredients. That is not the way I would work it, but I am happy that he cooks, so let him do it his way. It does have a bonus for me, in that it means he can do the mid week top up shop as well when he is at the shops!

My advice to get your partner on board for meal planning would depend on how much cooking they do. If they don’t cook, then I don’t think they get a say in it! If they cook on certain nights and don’t want to meal plan, then as long as they are happy to shop for the ingredients themselves, while it is not ideal, I would just let that be. Then plan for the meals you cook and shop for those.

How do you get your partner to pull his weight?

I have written a post on this before and I also did a podcast episode with Phil where we chat amongst other things how we work out the division of household tasks at our house.

In the post – Getting your partner to help around the house I outlined some steps you can take based on what has worked for us. I had feedback from some women who were unhappy with what I wrote as they felt that the onus was still on them to make sure their partners were doing more. This is absolutely the case as you can see from the key points outlined below:

  1. Your partner will see things differently to you
  2. You need to communicate what you need help with
  3. You need to allocate tasks
  4. You need to allow your partner to do it their way
  5. You need to continually adjust and adapt to growing family needs

For me, this system has worked. Is it perfect? No. Would more initiative be preferred? Yes. Does this allow us to work together in harmony (most of the time)? Yes. It is important that you do what sits comfortably with you and what will work for your family.

You can listen to the podcast episode I did with Phil here – this family life episode 11 : on working as a team with your partner.

How to deal with a husband who has very different taste buds to kids & likes to eat after they go to bed?

Phil has always been fantastic at eating anything I serve up with no complaints. There was also a period when the kids were young and he was working long hours, that I ate with the kids before he got home and he would have to reheat his dinner weeknights. Not an ideal scenario but we both knew this was the best way to go with the kids for that season of family life. On weekends we would all eat early together.

Even now I try to time our evening meals so as many family members as possible can be at the table for dinner time. If you are home, regardless of how old you are, you are expected to be at the table for dinner (even if you are not eating because you are going out to eat).

You need to make a call on what you are prepared to do. I was not prepared to make two meals and always preferred for us to eat meals as a family. There is also a significant body of research to show the positive impacts of having family dinner time. This article from The Washington Post – The most important thing you can do with your kids? Eat dinner with them. is excellent and I highly recommend reading it in full, but the key benefits of family dinner time are as follows:

Brain food
For starters, researchers found that for young children, dinnertime conversation boosts vocabulary even more than being read aloud to. The researchers counted the number of rare words – those not found on a list of 3,000 most common words – that the families used during dinner conversation. Young kids learned 1,000 rare words at the dinner table, compared to only 143 from parents reading storybooks aloud. Kids who have a large vocabulary read earlier and more easily.

Does a body good
Children who eat regular family dinners also consume more fruits, vegetables, vitamins and micronutrients, as well as fewer fried foods and soft drinks. And the nutritional benefits keep paying dividends even after kids grow up: young adults who ate regular family meals as teens are less likely to be obese and more likely to eat healthily once they live on their own.

Soul food
In addition, a stack of studies link regular family dinners with lowering a host of high risk teenage behaviors parents fear: smoking, binge drinking, marijuana use, violence, school problems, eating disorders and sexual activity. {source}

Alerting your partner to the key short-term and long-term benefits of eating dinner together would be a great starting point. In terms of the food preferences, I think most parents would choose a completely different menu plan than what we currently have if we only have to please ourselves.

One option around this is to plan more hybrid meals. This is something I do to cater to different preferences – for example on a night when I cook a curry I will cook two curries, one for those that don’t like much spice and a green curry for those of us who like spice. If you are making a meal like tacos, my sister has a great setup where they make the basics for the kids, but then also make a delicious black rice and corn mix, fresh salsa and cook up haulomi to have in theirs. If you are the cook, then the food preference issue really comes down to how much extra work are you prepared to do.

Thanks so much to all the lovely readers who left these questions for me in the PWK survey. I will be answering more through out the year!