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How not to hate your husband

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Do you ever hate your husband?

If the answer is yes, then you’re not alone, according to a book that’s climbing the bestseller list – fast.

The premise of How Not to Hate Your Husband After Kids (available on amazon) is simple: lots of women feel bitter and resentful towards their husbands because they aren’t doing enough at home.

Men have hugely improved in other areas: they make much better fathers and are less sexist at work.

But in the home they remain stubbornly unchanged, according to the author of the book Jancee Dunn, an American journalist.

She felt compelled to write the book after having a child and realizing her husband’s life didn’t change one iota after their child was born while hers changed dramatically.

Sadly, I suspect most women who’ve had a child will be nodding furiously in full agreement.

Jancee did what most women do after the birth: she added all the basic childcare chores on top of everything else she was doing like the cooking, cleaning and laundry. Her husband took up long-distance cycling.

He then cherry-picked the parts of childcare he would most enjoy.

I know many women who say their partners only do the ‘fun’ bits – playing in the park, reading a story – and magically disappear when it’s time to change a nappy or sit down and help with the homework.

The question is: whose fault is this? His or ours?

Jancee says women are as ingrained in traditionalism as much as men and I have to agree.

I think of myself as a woman who is very much an equal to men (and in lots of ways secretly superior, to be perfectly frank!)
Intellectually I think of housework as the couple’s job not the woman’s job.

Yet I instantly took over the role of preparing lunches for my step-daughter the second she moved in – despite the fact that my partner had happily made lunch for her for years before that.

And I didn’t just take over, I practically elbowed him out of the way.

Why? I wanted to impress both of them.

On a subconscious level I think I wanted to send a signal that I’d look after her even though I’m a ‘career woman’. (Do we even need that term anymore? How many women do you know who don’t work?)

I ignored the fact that my partner probably had more spare time then than I did: I just assumed the female nurturing role because I thought it was expected of me.

We’ve since worked out a (fairly) even split of chores but it did mean me fighting some primitive beliefs that aren’t exactly helpful to our bid for equality.

It’s worth doing: women everywhere are exhausted from taking on far too much and pretending they are superwomen.

If you’re ready for an equal split in the home, try these suggestions.

Explain what’s going on

Saying, “I do everything and you don’t do a thing” doesn’t work.

You need to be specific and show proof.

Make a list of every single thing you do around the house every single day along with a list of what he does to contribute.

Show him at the end of one week.

Most decent men are horrified when they see real evidence and are far more open to the idea of sharing the burden.

Don’t make it look easy

Women are brilliant at multi-tasking – too good.

We can have three plates spinning in the air and make it look effortless.

Stop being the proverbial swan – making everything look smooth on the surface while your feet are furiously pedalling underneath.

Don’t hide it when you feel overwhelmed.

Be aware of the example you’re setting

I am constantly telling my stepdaughter, 16, that women can do anything, achieve it all.

The problem is, this can also be interpreted as ‘women do everything’.

She has no problems feeling powerful as a female.

But she also sees women as the more sensible, guiding gender whose job it is to keep things on track in relationships.

Watching the parents she sees on a regular basis, she sees women as the ‘handbrakes’, trying to control their partner’s diet and drinking.

She sees them doing the housework, organizing all the social engagements, remembering birthdays and making doctor’s appointments for the men.

These women have full time jobs, just like their partners.

Every time a teenager watches your relationship dynamic, she is learning a lesson.

If the scales remain uneven – the woman kills herself trying to do everything and the man gets to relax – it will never ever equalize.

If you won’t change for yourself, do it for your daughter or your friend’s daughters.

Delegate and stop yourself from taking back chores.

I’m horribly guilty of doing this.

I will ask my partner to do something and unless he does it immediately, impatience makes me step in and do it myself.

I’m also guilty of re-doing things he’s just done – remaking the bed when he’s just done it, reorganizing all the put away groceries.

This sends a clear signal: you don’t do it as well as I do so you might as well leave it to me.

Explain what to you seems obvious

Women seem to instinctively know that once you have children, your needs are now second.

Women automatically and necessarily pair down extra activities to an absolute minimum when children are small, in order to cope.

If your partner hasn’t cut back on any social activities or hobbies – or like Jancee’s husband actually taken up even more – it really is time for a serious chat.

You might like to mention during it that a happy side effect of splitting the chores evenly is that you’ll end up having more sex.

More than one study has shown there’s a direct correlation between the two.

Funny that.

Tracey’s website traceycox.com has more information about relationships along with her product range and books.

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