It didn’t take me long to notice that when my husband is away the house stays cleaner. When he’s gone we go out and enjoy fabulously fun, spur of the moment activities. I lose my patience less. We fill our time intentionally, making memories. I hate to admit it, but when my husband is traveling for work, our home life is so much better and parenting is so much easier.
I have to admit that I started to look forward to his trips away and almost resented the time that he was home. Clearly our problems keeping up with housework and sitting around wasting time watching too much Netflix were his fault. When he’s gone we transform into some kind of Pinterest-worthy super duper family.
It was easy to blame my husband for our weaknesses as a family and pat myself on the back for clearly being the one who had it all together. Not long ago it hit me that the difference in our family when my husband was gone wasn’t him, it was me.
When he was gone for a week, I cleaned up every mess. I stopped leaving things for him to take care of when he got home. When he was away I didn’t wait all day to see what he might want to do when he got home from work. I thought up fun ideas, made plans and carried them out.
When my husband is home, I expect to have help with the parenting tasks. I don’t take as much initiative. I worry that I’m doing more than my fair share. When he’s away, I know that the creation of peace, love and joy in our home is 100% up to me. I shared this revelation (that all my complaints might really be my fault) with a wise friend who told me, “Everyone thinks marriage is 50/50, but it’s really 100/100.” Two people in a marriage should both be 100% committed. They should be willing to take 100% of the responsibility for the quality of life in their home.
I discovered that when I feel 100% responsible for my family and parenting, all the things my husband is already doing to benefit our family suddenly feel generous, almost extravagant. I stop taking his contributions for granted and start to see them as the gifts he intends them to be, instead of wondering if they really measure up to the sacrifices I make by choosing to stay home with our children. When I appreciate the help he regularly offers, he offers his help even more often and with a better attitude. When I belittle his parenting contributions, it doesn’t exactly inspire him to move mountains to make me happy.
When two people who are sharing a life are both willing to do 100% of the parenting work to make that life great, marriage works. When two people are constantly thinking that the other person should be keeping up their end of the bargain, marriages fall apart. So, I no longer wait for my husband to take a trip to turn into super mom, I try to put in my full effort every day, not just on the days when I won’t have help. Now that my husband has seen my super mom routine, it turns out he can pull off a pretty incredible super dad performance too! It doesn’t mean we don’t still have some piles of laundry to fold, it just means that I don’t leave half of them for him to do, and he doesn’t wait for me to hop up when the kids need help with something. We stopped keeping track of whose turn it was to change a diaper and started keeping track of how grateful we are to have a real partner, fully engaged in our life together.