May 15, 2010

How Not To Pressure Your Working Spouse [DaddyTips]

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Have you ever wondered how not to pressure your working spouse? Or is that a topic you’ve never given a moment of thought?

You should think about it. Because it’s important. Pressuring your spouse, especially when they are at work (say, by sending an email) can cause frustration and also be downright mean.

Nobody wants their spouse to feel pressured and guilty about working when they need to. Well, maybe they do, but if so, you’ve got other problems. That doesn’t mean you can’t talk to your husband or wife and tell them that you would love it if they spent more time at home. But you have to realize that this isn’t always possible.

People who know me — and after my ParentDish opinion piece Dads Can Stay Home With The Kids, Too, even people who don’t — know that I’m the primary caregiver in our house (I prefer that phrase to “stay at home dad“, even though it’s a bit unwieldy). I’ve made some adjustments in how I discuss home-time with my wife when she has to work.

Not to belabor the point, but the key thing thing is to avoid pressuring your spouse and/or making them feel guilty. Some of this isn’t your fault. If your spouse says that they feel like you are being demanding because you emailed to ask time they’ll be home, you may want to sit down and explain that you aren’t trying to stress her out, you just want to know.

That’s the key thing to keep in mind when it comes to talking to your working spouse. Keep these four words in mind — no pressure, just planning. You are asking what their ETA is because that way you can plan dinner, or keep the children awake a little bit longer. Or maybe you want to know because the children are driving you insane, and if you are going to count the minutes until you’ll have some help playing zone defense, you’d like to know just how many minutes you need to count.

If you end your emails with that phrase — no pressure, just planning — odds are you’ll be able to find out what you need to find out without causing undue tension in your relationship. Give it a try. It certainly can’t hurt.

Baby Boom/Mr. Mom Double Feature DVD image via Amazon.com