My wife and I have been together for 7 years. We have a very non-traditional marriage. I do most of the cooking, I’m a very active participant with our children, and I do my fair share of grocery shopping, cleaning, etc. There’s one way that we’re a traditional couple, though: I’m the hands down breadwinner and she works part time so she can stay home with our 2 kids. Here’s the problem: She doesn’t feel like anything I do is really special so she never says thank you.
Maybe I’m just being nit picky but I really feel like I’m doing a great job at being #1 dad and husband. I’ve even heard our friends make comments about what a great husband and dad I am. But my wife just tells me that that’s what I’m supposed to be doing. She says that if I were a woman I wouldn’t be getting special praise for all that so I shouldn’t be expecting any special praise or anything. I feel completely unappreciated and undervalued. Am I being nit picky? If not, how do I get her to appreciate me more?
Dear Mr Underappreciated,
Cheers to you for being SuperDad and the breadwinner! A lot of men would not be able to (and don’t) do what you do. I absolutely think it is right for you to want to feel appreciated. That is a core need many people (including men) have. Please explain to your wife that you aren’t looking for special treatment but just want to be acknowledged when you do an excellent job at home/with the kids every now and then. Tell her it motivates you to do more. Positive reinforcement goes a long way. If that fails, try the actions-speak-louder-than-work approach. Yes, I am suggesting you stop doing some things and see how she reacts. Sometimes absence really does make the heart grow fonder. Good luck!
The sort of non-traditional arrangement that you’re describing is something I’m seeing more and more of – especially among younger couples. I think it’s great that dads are starting to take on non-traditional roles and be more active around the house! But even though I’m seeing it more and more, I think you’re among a pretty slim minority of men in the general population who do this. So you absolutely do deserve praise for doing it. Even women who do what you do deserve praise! The fact that you’re a man should make no difference.
Tell your wife how you’re feeling. She may have a little resentment that you’re asking for praise for something that’s “your job” but even when you’re at work your boss should praise you for good work. She may also have a chip on her shoulder about traditional gender roles that she is taking out on you. Be aware that this may be the case. If it is, you may need to proceed with caution because she’s not going to want to hear about how you think you should be praised for something that women often don’t get praised for. Good partners (men AND women) praise their spouses for everything they do – regardless of whether that’s “their job” or not.
About Rachel: Rachel Russo is a Dating, Relationship, & Image Coach who works with marriage-minded singles and couples in NYC and throughout the US. Checkout her website at RachelRusso.com
About Aaron: Aaron Anderson is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Director of The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, Colorado and writer for various websites on marriage and relationships.