My Husband Canceled A Business Trip For Me!

Two weeks ago, my husband casually mentioned that he had a 2-day business trip smack in the middle of my Mommy Wars publicity tour, on the exact same day I had a 45-minute Today Show pre-interview, a one-hour live radio appearance on the Diane Rehm Show and a segment on ABC's Capitol Sunday to tape (This past Thursday for anyone interested).

"But honey, it's a really big day for me, TV and radio. I can get up extra early, get everyone ready by myself, take all the kids in by myself, but I will be wrecked by 9 a.m. Can't you change it?"

It was a rhetorical question. I've asked him -- begged him -- to change business travel before. He never does.

I didn't throw a fit. I'm not sure I have any hysterical tantrums left after nine years of working motherhood and a husband who bolts for the office like an antelope who's spotted a cheetah when one of the kids wakes up feeling sick on a weekday morning. I just shut up and mentally steeled myself to develop a new muscle for wrangling three kids, one TV producer, a famous radio host and two TV interviewers in six hours.

So it was a total surprise when he casually mentioned that he'd canceled the trip. I told him, truthfully, that it was the nicest thing he'd ever done for me. And then I ran a victory lap around the kitchen.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  March 13, 2006; 7:00 AM ET
Previous: Mommy Talk | Next: Two Views of the Village


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Comments

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I'm glad to hear that he cancelled his trip (even without the tantrum).

Part of marriage is compromising, even when or if you don't want to. Not to say that your work is more important than his or vice versa. But it sounds like a nice change of pace and a step in the right direction of keeping things right and fair.

Posted by: Michelle | March 13, 2006 8:45 AM

I don't get it. He thinks it's ok to bolt from parental responsbilities ninety nine out of one hundred times. He gets kudos for the one time he cooperates with your schedule. Eek. What sort of role model is that for the children? Mommy is the care giver. Daddy can help out when he feels like it. He's doing mommy a favor.

I'm tired for you.

Posted by: Cathy G. | March 13, 2006 9:50 AM

I must agree with Cathy. I'm glad he cancelled the trip, but if this is the nicest thing he's done for you during your entire marriage of X years, what does that say?

Posted by: Sixy | March 13, 2006 9:53 AM

Leslie:

I'm kinda stunned by this post. I appreciate your honest and willingness to share this, but yikes, he's never cancelled a business trip until now?

My wife and I have three kids, we both work fulltime-plus jobs, and we travel regularly for work. There isn't a year that goes by without a cancelled trip by both of us because of conflicts in our schedules. Happens all the time. Same thing with sick kids. We take turns. Heck, this morning over breakfast we were figuring out who would work from home over the next ten days while their regular babysitters are college students, who are now away on spring break. 50-50 split.

We are far, far, far from perfect, so please don't take this as chest-thumping moment. I'm glad your husband cancelled the trip. Why did it take nine years to do that?

Posted by: Peter | March 13, 2006 9:54 AM

Cathy, I had the same reponse. My husband just called me from Moscow, where he is for the fifth time in five months. He's scheduled to come home on Wednesday, and I'm supposed to leave on Thursday for my first leisure weekend with friends in three years. Somehow he's the hero for watching our son for one weekend...while I haven't been anywhere without a kid by my side or in my uterus for three years. Equal partners, my foot!

Posted by: Anonymous | March 13, 2006 9:54 AM

It took me a while to figure out that he canceled HIS trip and not your trip!

"My Husband Canceled A Business Trip For Me!" reads to me that your husband took time to cancel your business trip so you didn't have to cancel it yourself.

A better subject would have been "My Husband Canceled His Business Trip For Me!"

Otherwise, I was confused as all heck when you did victory laps about him canceling your trip without your permission.

Posted by: IMarvinTPA | March 13, 2006 9:59 AM

If that was "the nicest thing he's ever done for me," then I pity your marriage. I hope that was just some nice hyperbole on your part.

Posted by: Christopher | March 13, 2006 10:00 AM

Shocker. Didn't take long for the Dad-bashing to start. Mebbe we can rename the blog to Dad Bashing?

Posted by: Matt | March 13, 2006 10:04 AM

First to Matt-I really don't think the previous posters were bashing Dad (of course I'm a Mom) but the thing is, to balance...it is so much easier if your partner is there pulling his (or her) weight. I get PTO and my DH does not, so when the kids are sick I stay home most of the time, but not always, we do trade off. We are both parents to these kids, why shouldn't we both care for them?

Leslie, I'm glad you DH cancelled his trip-but sorry it's taken him so long to realize that he needs to do more of the care taking.

Posted by: Another WOHM | March 13, 2006 10:15 AM

I don't think most people here would say it is Dad-bashing, I would hope most here would say it is partner bashing.... I mean, the shoe could fit no matter what the gender.

Posted by: LB | March 13, 2006 10:16 AM

I don't think anyone has written about subject I find fascinating regarding family roles. I would imagine my husband and I are a generation younger than Mrs. Steiner and her husband. Among our friend, about 1/3 stay at homes are dads. I will put forth the premise that the younger generation is much less dogmatic in their gender roles. Anyone else share that?

Posted by: CHMom | March 13, 2006 10:22 AM

Well, WOHM, it is Dad Bashing. And, to CHMom's point, yes, I do more than my Dad did and he did more than his Dad did. But, it really doesn't matter, does it? No matter what Dads do, it's never enough -- because we're men, we don't understand the plight of Moms, etc., etc., etc., etc.

Mebbe I can start a Dad blog.

Posted by: Matt | March 13, 2006 10:30 AM

Dear Leslie: I managed to catch your interview this morning on the Today show with Katie Couric, along with a doc psycho analyzing why some moms work and some moms don’t and the battle that rages. You seemed somewhat let down by the segment – so was I. Really – if you have raised, successfully, at least three children and worked – you are the only person who can give a documented psycho analysis of why some moms work and why some moms don’t, and all the feelings that go along with it. Most of us live our lives in segments, i.e., we are home for some of the time during our children’s formative years and return to work during a later segment of time. If done right and I can say that because I have worked and raised three responsible successful children and maintained my sanity AND I have had a long successful career in Washington, DC; I am now responsible for a large scale celebration of America’s 400th Anniversary and I am a native Alexandrian, the outcome can be a wonderful celebration of familyhood, not necessarily motherhood – that is a great title for a book. I am now responsible for a large scale celebration of America’s 400th Anniversary. I read a brief description of your “beginning of the day” and when you mention helping a child find his/her homework the morning of school – I could scream!! Why would you help your children find their homework before they leave for school?? You are only feeding your “out of control” mornings and teaching your children to be disorganized, frantic and most times I am sure they leave home with an upset stomach. Do you think they will survive the rigors of high school and then college? I can tell you they won’t. All those ads you see on TV with the kid returning home holding a plastic bin that was obviously sitting in their dorm room is a message to all the moms who sit and complain about how overwhelmed they are. Their kids will not finish college and they will be back at home waiting for you give them the crucial tools they need to succeed. Why is your house or SUV a mess? I don’t understand. I watch my young sister- in- law do this and she is a “stay at home” mom. Why do moms think their young children will wake up and be organized and ready for their school day? These are things adults still struggle with. Teach children how to become responsible adults has nothing to do with working moms or stay at home moms. It has to do with disorganized, lazy moms. I could help you write a book about how to raise children whether you stay home or work!!! I have done both. You are missing the point. Of course, it is hard, everything these days is extremely hard. It is time for women who choose to be moms to act like moms and stop bemoaning the choices we have made. That’s the book we need!! I have 25 years of first hand experience to download. Place the concentration on the children, not us, it is not about us, it is about our family. Please forgive the ranting, but I have accomplished so much for my children, husband and myself.

Posted by: Drema | March 13, 2006 10:56 AM

Matt, I think you're missing the point, which is that Dads, while certainly stepping up to the plate more than Ward Cleaver, are given kudos for that extra effort. It's not "bashing" to point that out. For Gen X and Y women, who were raised by mothers that told us we could to anything we set our hearts to, it can be a shock to realize that once we've gotten pregnant the whole equation changes. We graduated from college with men, competed with men for jobs, and now all of the sudden are expected to take on a larger share because we are women. Again not bashing, just a statement of fact.

Maybe the problem was that we were lied to by our mothers. Lied to with the best of intentions, but lied to nonetheless.

Posted by: PTjobFTmom | March 13, 2006 10:58 AM

Drema, I'm glad you're so proud of all your accomplishments. Now, please, spare the rest of us the holier-than-thou speech. Thank you.

Posted by: Mariela | March 13, 2006 11:16 AM

I, frankly, didn't think that this article deserved any space on the Post website, because it is what women face everyday with no end in sight. Whether you work or not, everything rolls downhill to the mother. Exchanging the father with the mother is rarely an even exchange. Yipee, your husband cancelled his business trip because of your full plate - I guess if you are sick, he wouldn't do that? Having such low expectations of your husband allows him to put all the parenting responsibilities on your shoulders and get off scott free! I used to see it where I worked - Many husbands "worked late" to "avoid traffic" and get home just in time to read that bedtime story when all the work was done.

Posted by: jonebb | March 13, 2006 11:19 AM

I'm the working half of a family with a stay at home dad. So, I get to see how that other 1/3 actually lives. And, I'm of the prior generation. We've been doing this for over a decade.

First, Dad gets great credit for being with the kids. Doing most of the laundry, groceries and cooking elevates him to sainthood.

Second, he is a hit on field trips because he can "watch the boys in the rest rooms." Okay, so boys of a certain age need the supervision, but telling him you value him because he can enter the inner sanctum is still offensive.

Third, it is generally assumed he is at home because he is involuntarily unemployed. And, of course, he has to establish that he is not home to prey on other people's children.

So, he gets more credit for some things, but has a few hurdles of his own.

Posted by: Karen | March 13, 2006 11:40 AM

This was a bit depressing to read. It's good that he responded--this time-- but they are his children, too. My wife and I both work-- she part time and me full time. But I never assume my job is so much more important than hers that I can't even make the effort to change my schedule when necessary. Your husband has a good deal, and he knows it. But it's not a fair one.

Posted by: dave | March 13, 2006 11:41 AM

Wow, there is a lot of resentment here directed towards dads. I would be the first to admit that men often don't do as much child-rearing or household work, but I think that being a passive-agressive victim who tolerates things for a long time and then lashes out is not the solution. I think that you should consider that many men, especially Generation X and Y men want to spend more time doing stuff with their families. My biggest obstacle is the workplace. One example is that we have an ad-hoc part-time program at my law firm, but to date this arrangement has only been requested by or extended to men. When I suggested that I was interested, the coded answer I got was that this was only for women. To the extent that you want men to be more involved, I would change the language of the discussion from working moms to working parents. Working dads go through many of the same issues, from not enough time, to co-workers and bosses who don't understand to simply coming to work with spit-up on your shirt. I think that bringing dads into the discussion would go a long way towards changing things in ways that help both working parents.

Posted by: Andy O. | March 13, 2006 11:41 AM

If I was married to any of you bitter, angry shrews, I would take every opportunity to get out of the house, too. You understand so little about male psychology it's a wonder you managed to find a man to marry you in the first place. I'll give you a free hint: we repond infintely better to positive reinforcement (even if barely deserved) than to endless haranguing of our shortcomings. You want to know why your husbands don't help out more? It's because you're constantly nagging him to do more, and don't appreciate him when he does.

I'm not saying mothers don't deserve more help--they surely do--but you're going about it the wrong way.

If this is how you try to get your kids to behave, too--nagging, tantrums, constant demands--well, good luck with that, too.

Posted by: Frank | March 13, 2006 11:42 AM

Geeze, this is the saddest post I've ever read. To think you did victory laps because your husband cancelled a trip so that you could have your day in the spotlight. How big of him.

I have to agree: you've got the bar set very very low.

Posted by: workingmom | March 13, 2006 12:03 PM

Kudos to Andy O. for making a succinct point. The whole premise for this book and this blog for that matter is that women are victims.

"On Balance"? You don't think men/dads have the same balance issues? You don't think that men/dads face deal with stereotypes of their own?

I agree -- let's change the discussion to Working Parents! Stay at home (and trying to stay at home more) parents! Sure we could continue on the "Mom does everything and is overworked and Dad skates and does nothing" nonsense but where does that get us? Save that for your therapist.

Posted by: Matt | March 13, 2006 12:04 PM

You know, work trips aren't generally fun. They're... work. Unless you're linking those demands for cancelling work travel with compromises in your expectations about the family's financial situation, you're being unrealistic and unfair.

As a reader, I'm left somewhere between curious and uncomfortable about not knowing your partner's reactions to all this. You're publicly villifying him, and perhaps that's justified, but I can't help thinking I'm just getting one side of a private argument that you're choosing to make publicly for your career.

Posted by: Jake | March 13, 2006 12:07 PM

I read your comments and a light went off in my head! My spouse is away for a week on business, I'm taking care of the kids (4 and 8) and was sick for three days last week (but still got up, did the dishes, made the lunches and trooped them off to day care and 3rd grade). As a side project, I'm trying to potty train a hell-bent-for-leather 6-month-old Jack Russell terrier. Oh, did I mention I'm the husband?

Posted by: Brettski | March 13, 2006 12:19 PM

ummm... who cares?

i'd love a business trip right about now

Posted by: dave in toronto | March 13, 2006 12:38 PM

Would your husband have cancelled his business trip if he didn't think the world was watching?

Posted by: Stephanie | March 13, 2006 12:40 PM

I, like many of the women, was kind of stunned that Leslie was so happy that her husband cancelled his worktrip and put his family before work for what seemed like the first time.

Matt, I'm not bashing all men, just one (Leslie's husband). My husband has always taken time off to care for sick kids, usually he took off more time because he has more leave. So, I'm puzzled and disappointed by Leslie's husband - rearranging his work schedule is reason for a happy dance?! A working wife has to beg for support?

I've recently become a stay-at-home mom so my husband can go to work without worrying about the household chores, children and such. But when I worked, we shared all chores and childrearing responsibilities. It's insane to expect half of a working couple to get it all done.

Posted by: Jeanne | March 13, 2006 12:42 PM

Do any of you anti-husband readers realize that you made a judgement based on reading only one side of the story. We have no idea - repeat no idea, what the author's husband story would be. It could validate her totally; or it could present just as seemingly a rational perspective which is diametrically opposed to her's.

Reading these blogs makes me feel as if I'm watching Nancy Grace - There's only one version of the truth! Differing opinions not wanted!

Posted by: Disappointed | March 13, 2006 1:02 PM

I can certainly understand many of the comments bashing Leslie's husband. But I'm troubled by Leslie holding him up to ridicule in the first place.

It's generally bad form to trash your partner in public. At best, it's a sign of disrespect. At worst, it's a warning sign that your relationship is in serious trouble. For Leslie to ridicule her husband as a bad husband and a bad parent in the guise of praising him is very disturbing.

Leslie is not some anonymous commentator. People know perfectly well who her husband is. He may well be embarrassed and upset by her post and he has every right to be. When you're a public figure like Leslie, it's not necessarily wise to share ALL the details of your life with your readers simply because you think it might amuse them.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 13, 2006 1:06 PM

I would like to echo some of the comments here and would be interested in hearing Leslie's husbands side of the story -- as long as it's an honest version, not a sanitized PR version.

Posted by: Matt | March 13, 2006 1:17 PM

Shorter Frank (11:42 a.m.): "If you want me to do anything for you, ladies, best to keep yer yap shut about it. If you even mention it, that's nagging, and then I'll NEVER do it, just to spite you. If you don't ever mention it, I might do it or I might not. If I do get up off my duff and lift a finger, I'd better get a freakin' ticker-tape parade. Now come over here and gimme some sugar."

Posted by: Happily married "shrew" | March 13, 2006 1:35 PM

Shame on you all, both for being critical and for ENTIRELY missing the point. So far as I can tell, Leslie was recounting a step forward in her marriage that occurred just as she was experiencing major career success. What a perfect illustration of the kind of thing many working moms encounter all of the time--having to juggle between family and unusual work responsibilities. Whether any of you can (or will) acknowledge it, there are times in every marriage with two working spouses where one's job obligations necessarily must trump the other's. In this circumstance, Leslie's job (finally) trumped her husband's, and he stayed home. Good for her (and for him) for reaching a milestone hit much earlier by some couples and never at all by many more...

Posted by: Midwesternlawyermom | March 13, 2006 1:38 PM

What I thought when reading this husband behavior would not work for me. But I also think that this couple has made their contract and its how their marriage works and Leslie seems ok with this. I also think women compromise b/c they want to be married to the men they love or because they want to be married period and I dont think there is anything wrong with it at all. Life and partnership is not 50/50, it just isnt.

Posted by: Gabriella | March 13, 2006 1:43 PM

We have the luxury of having my wife home to take care of our son. She is a whiz at communicating with him, educating him, and taking care of his needs. But for all the women out there who resent the fact that you have to do all the household work while your husband does nothing, I would like for you to take a moment and think about all the other things he does that you do not do. (and I realize this does not apply to all) Does he take care of all the paperwork, bills, rebates, refinancing, etc.? Does he mow the lawn, gather and take out the garbage, recaulk the bathrooms, pull quarters out of the disposal, and other handyman things? Does he take care of getting the oil changed, the tires rotated, wash, vaccuum, and detail the cars and make sure they are gassed up when he takes your car for a test spin to ferret out pings, knocks, and squeeks? If he spends hours on the couch watching television, I understand your complaint, but most working fathers I know are better at solitary persuits around the home, whereas the mothers are better at the communal issues of organizing the kids, meals, and laundry. You could think of the my wife as the motor. She makes everything go. When she's down, the whole machine stops. You can think of me as the gas, oil, anti-freeze, tire-pressure, and fan belt. The motor will run, but not well for long. If she takes care of me every once in a while, I take care of her for the long haul.

Posted by: Working Dad | March 13, 2006 2:07 PM

You read a blog to see a particular person's view of things. That's what a blog IS.

Apparently it's fine and dandy for the readers to read about a situation from some comments on a blog and express their opinion--so long as they agree with you.

But if they disagree, they are biased, not hearing the other side, being a dad-basher (or whoever basher), etc.

We've had the "race card," now apparently the fashion is to play the "you're judging" card.

Posted by: Di | March 13, 2006 2:08 PM

I was about to buy this book for my wife and I to read, because we are both working parents who feel very exhausted sometimes. But, after reading the blog, I am totally blown away by the inappropriateness of the public criticism of her husband. Somewhere else she refers to her husband as mostly-wonderful. This isn't coffee with girlfriends, this is the world-wide web. It sounds like Leslie and her hubby need some marriage counseling, or Leslie needs to check herself into someplace. This isn't healthy stuff. All of the man-bashing in the comments demonstrated more about the hostility of the commenters than the inadequateness of the husband. If Leslie really resents her husband so much that the has to rejoice that she doesn't have to throw a tantrum to get her way, something is wrong. If the marriage makes her that unhappy, she should either try and fix it or leave. It may be the case that her husband takes a lot of business trips, but I hope he isn't the nasty, manipulative creature that she appears to be.

Posted by: Fergus | March 13, 2006 2:16 PM

Leslie you need to realize that people are going to want to tear you down. Because one thing is for certain and that is no one likes a woman who is happy with her career and motherhood choices because it makes them feel "less than". Steel yourself (and your husband and kids) for the onslaught of public scrutiny into your marriage and your personal life. And for God's sakes, stop reading Comments posted to your blog. NOW.

Posted by: Part-time Career / Full-time Mom in Bethesda | March 13, 2006 2:33 PM

Is anyone else wondering why someone is planning something for the 400th anniversary of America? It's 2006, right? Which means our fair country is 230 this year, right? *scratches head*

Posted by: DM | March 13, 2006 2:42 PM

Leslie claims that she is trying to end the war between women who work and those who stay at home, and this may be true. What her post reveals, though, is that she is still firing the shots in the ongoing war between women who work and their husbands. Personally, I think that her approach of public criticism is more likely to result in a divorce than getting more time or support for her husband.

Posted by: Heather | March 13, 2006 2:44 PM

To PTC/FTM Mom in Bethesda: What makes you think that she actually reads these?

Posted by: Disappointed | March 13, 2006 2:44 PM

I'm a little stunned by the vitriolic comments made here. Everyone is entitled to explain their reality and this is her's: she has a husband that doesn't appear to do 50 percent of the child care...is that really so unusual?

I have a type A alpha male partner that is extremely career oriented. To date he helps with all domestic errands....but i also have a full time job and contribute half the household income. My question is to all you ladies that were in my situation and are now stay @ home parents: did your husband change/start to take you for granted/do less, etc. when you stayed at home? Did the dynamic shift, and if so in what ways? Naomi Wolf wrote a piece where she found men slacked off with their household responsibilities after having children, b/c they knew their wives wouldn't divorce them/uproot the kids, etc. over that one issue.

I'm 28 years old, on the cusp of marriage/kids and i'm really worried that the bargaining power i have now will errode once i become a wife and mother...

i would love to hear your collective wisdom.

Posted by: SJ | March 13, 2006 3:07 PM

None of us are perfect - well, except Drema (see previous post) ... If you have the answer - please share it with us - I think all of us (working moms and SAHM) would love to hear real, practical tips on how we can achieve balance and be better mothers, workers, wives, sisters, friend, etc.

Posted by: ABC | March 13, 2006 3:22 PM

I totally understand the excitement over getting Dad to cancel a trip. My husband is just as reluctant to do his 50%. There is always quite a bit of pleading involved in getting him to stay home with a sick child on days that I can't take off.

Well, he's just a man. You gotta take the hide with the fur.

Posted by: randommom | March 13, 2006 3:24 PM

To SJ: you're talking about "bargaining power" as you're on the "cusp of marriage." How have the negotiations gone so far? Have you had lawyers on both sides look at the contract? Have you spelled out all possible contingencies (hey, good luck with that....)

LOL -- bargaining power? Mebbe you outta step back and re-think a bit.

Posted by: Matt | March 13, 2006 3:28 PM

A reality check. I'm 28, a widower for two years, and would give anything to have these "problems" with my wife. Albeit real issues that require communication and discussion, but not the end all. Enjoy your lives, your children, your partners, and the problems that are inherent with any relationship.

Posted by: ilikecheese | March 13, 2006 3:30 PM

I think as far as tips go, the best one is trite but useful: communication. There's nothing worse than seething inwardly while you perceive your partner not doing his or her "fair share." It could be that he or she is indeed trying to avoid some work. Or, maybe he or she just doesn't see the problem--all the more reason why you have to speak up if something is bothering you. No need to be negative in your tone. But talking about it is so much better than letting it fester. 'Cause then, when you DO eventually speak up, it might come out a whole lot nastier than you'd intended, and then the other person might be on the defensive and it's harder to reach a solution.

To any person who is considering going from one situation (working FT, working PT, SAHP) to another, it's definitely good to talk about what that change might entail BEFORE it actually happens. Like, if you're a stay-at-home-parent but will be returning to work because, for example, the children are all in full-time school, you and your partner need to discuss whether the division of household/family labor will still be the same (e.g., who will make the doctor's appointments, who will take off from work to take the children to appointments, who will do X, Y and Z around the house). Same important conversation if you're leaving an outside-the-home job to become a SAHP.

Just my 2 cents.

Posted by: HMS | March 13, 2006 3:32 PM

Matt: I can't speak for all relationships but marriage/partnerships have their own dynamic and "power" is a part of that dynamic. My SO does half the household work b/c he knows that if i am truly dissatisfied with his contribution to the relationship, i can walk/he will lose me.
When you get married, it seems to me that women lose that ability. and i think kids magnify that dilema.

What if he changes and i'm stuck? maybe this sounds stupid, but it's how i feel, and a few of my friends in the same situation feel. We love our partners now: what if they change after marriage? Is it common?

Posted by: SJ | March 13, 2006 3:47 PM

For Drema - no criticism but just a comment to lighten up a bit... I am sure I would have been judged disorganized by your standards and I have sometimes indulged and helped my kids more than perhaps would have passed your bar... but they have done and are doing fine in college now. I mean your system works for you and that is great but others of us manage OK with different systems. By bending over backwards now and then for my kids when they didn't plan as well as they should, I have raised kids who are compassionate and go out of their way for others. There is more than one way to succeed in this world!

Posted by: Catherine | March 13, 2006 3:50 PM

Wow, this blog and the comments make me really glad I'm not having kids. Best of luck to all of you.

Posted by: ML | March 13, 2006 3:56 PM

I'm a dad. If I take off work to stay home with a sick kid, my bonus is smaller. If I cancel a business trip, maybe my firm loses a client. That hurts the whole family.

It's not "fair" that it's always mom who has to stay home at our house, but life isn't fair. It's not fair that, even though we both work and make approximately equal incomes, my wife's employer has little problem with her going on a school field trip once in a while. I would love to be able to.

And I agree with Frank, to a point. Hearing that I'm doing something right, even if it's something I am "supposed" to do anyway, makes me feel good about doing it, and want to help out more. Only hearing about what I'm doing wrong, or didn't do, makes me feel like what I do around the house is not valued at all, so I want to do even less than I already am.

And, for the "happily married shrew," you will catch more flies with some sugar than you will with vinegar.

Posted by: Brian | March 13, 2006 3:58 PM

I think SJ's SO should "walk" while he can. If all she cares about in a relationship is how much power she has and what she gets out of it, she's never going to be happy. In most families where both spouses have jobs, it feels like each is doing 75% of the effort because each pays greater attention to thir own contributions and sacrifices, whether those are staying home when the kids are sick or working late to pay for the house that keeps the kids in a good school district or allows mom to work part time. If you are keeping a mental scorecard, you will always feel like the other is coming out on top. If you view love as a situation where you give without regard to what you get back, then I think you can deal better with the exceptionally hard work that it is to be a working parent. I could be wrong, but I think SJ is still focused on "what's in it for me."

Posted by: whateva | March 13, 2006 4:13 PM

Why is The Post running a blog for a woman to berate her husband in public?

Where is his side of the story?

She has the time to write books about being a mommy BECAUSE HE WORKS. What a nice deal!

I am not surprised he bolts for the door like a cheetah every morning given her self-righteous attitude. The only thing I don't understand:

Why does he come back home?

Posted by: gohomemanbashsers | March 13, 2006 4:31 PM

...i am really surprised at the anger/craziness of the some of these posts...i logged on just to talk about experiences I am new to, to learn and get some advice from "seasoned hands"....this is a whole new world to me and now i see why it's called mommy "wars." For "whateve": you completely misunderstood what i was saying; and horribly harsh in doing so. and if you think maintaining equilibrium in a relationship is the same as a scorecard, then your situation is very unique. Maybe this is just my asian heritage/experience coming through...but male partners that consider the "wooing" over once we say i do, and then delegate child rearing chores b/c they are earning the money are very common. And my originial question was: how to address this shift in power (oh no the scary P word!!) if indeed it does exist?

Posted by: SJ | March 13, 2006 4:32 PM

Guys - Look at this shrew. This is what you get if you settle for a feminist american wench.

She will expect you to pay all the bills, handle half the housework and kids, and then cut your balls off in her blog when she's not satisfied.

Honestly, why would a man want any piece of this? It boggles the mind.

Posted by: americanwivesaretheworst | March 13, 2006 4:34 PM

And we care why?

What a waste of the Post's webspace. And why does it deserve such a prominent link on the Post.com front page?

Slow news day, huh?

Matt.

Posted by: Matt | March 13, 2006 4:35 PM

SJ: In general, I have found that women marry men believing they can change (if he would just..., if he only could..., if I could just get him to... he would be perfect).

Men marry women hoping they won't.

You are already ahead of the game. You don't want/need him to change to be perfect. As long as you accept his "faults" as being the perfect "he" he can be, as I'm sure he does you, it will be great.

And "whateva" has some good advice. Don't focus on what the partner could/should bring to the relationship. Focus on what *you* can bring to the relationship. Talk over any differences, but accept the answers you receive.

Posted by: Working Dad | March 13, 2006 4:36 PM

I hope DREMA is off her pedastal now (disgusted). Leslie, I hope you realize never to confined in other women. Amazingly, they'll be your worst enemy and the ones gunning for you. They can't stand it if you happen to love and accept your husband as is. I find it especially unique in this culture. Pitty Matt, Frank, Brian Jake, Andy, Dave, Working Dad. this is why men keeps quite and women wonder why they can't figure them out. Stop imasculating them. Being a "ballsbuster" is not the way to their heart. This is from a girls girl and a very proud sahm

Posted by: TL | March 13, 2006 4:41 PM

Well, as a full-time Stay-at-home-Dad, I think Leslie's post is a total insult to her husband. I'd find my butt in divorce court if I tried taking my marital issues with my wife onto a public forum.

And let me assure anyone out there who hasn't done it for themselves, staying home and raising your kids is more than full-time work. For those women (and men) who want to "have it all" and have a career while trying to be the main parent, realize you are doing two full-time jobs. If women out there want to work and have a family, then you need to discuss this with your future husband before you get married. If your and/or your husband's job isn't compatible with last-minute days off and cancelling business trips, then you need a plan before you get married, or, at least, before you get pregnant. It still amazes me that many women seem to spend 1000x the effort planning the wedding than they do the marraige. If you tell your husband "I plan to continue to work when we have children" and don't add, "and you'll need to step up and do 50% of the parenting." then you only have yourself to Blame.

My wife and I were both active duty military when we met and got engaged. Before we got married, we decided, for a number of reasons, that I would stay at home with our future kids and she would stay on active duty. We followed that plan and knew, for the most part, what our roles would be. I stayed in the reserves, so my career is still going and our plan is working well. I can't think how things would have turned out if we hadn't discussed and agreed to everything before the wedding.

So to any of you single people out there who may be reading this - you better get a plan together beforehand or you'll just end up screwing yourself.

Posted by: Andy | March 13, 2006 5:02 PM

Interesting comments.

I've been a single parent with a job that required overnight travel. You hire someone to watch your child and just pay the $$$$ necessary as the cost of doing business.

I've also had a spouse in them military. When Uncle Sam says "deploy", the spouse deploys. You hire some to watch your child and pay the $$$$ necessary as the cost of doing business.

Is having two precarious jobs (because of taking time off from work to handle "kid" duty) better than having one? Dunno. Still wonder about that. Of course, no precarious jobs is best, but we're not there yet and we have to work in the environment we have, even as we try to change it, assuming "change it" is the goal.

Posted by: Interesting | March 13, 2006 5:04 PM

Your right Frank they don't get the male psyche and they don't seem to care either. I'm married to this awesome some would consider a guys guy. I concentrate on being the girl and he goes about being the man that he is. I don't try to change his nature. Without ever asking, he works like a dog for us. You know what else, the kids and I thinks he walks on water, and he has never change a diaper a day in his life. Yes, he is spoiled. He said he is "very comfortable with me". My friends are mad because he didn't say he was crazy about me instead. He fulfills me, but I'm told that I don't know what I want. but oh boy, am I sitting on a nice nest egg. Now I'm waiting to have pies thrown at me, being ask to get psycho analyze. Drema will probably get back on her pedastal and chide in as well.

Posted by: TL | March 13, 2006 5:18 PM

SJ, you are correct in that I was too harsh, and for that I apologize. I still think that you are focused on all of the wrong things. I think that real, caring, lasting relationships don't turn on power, they turn on communication and partnership. Often one side just plain doesn't understand what the other is going through, whether it is the craziness that is getting kids off to school, picking them up, and getting their homework done or whether it is the immense amount of pressure on a spouse to be a successful "breadwinner" and take home the mountains of cash that it takes to raise a family in a metropolitan area. Being a parent is just plain hard work. You are going to be exhausted. You are going to feel inadequate in one or more roles, whether as a worker, parent, spouse, or human, at many times. The more you communicate, the more you will feel each other's pain and see each other as partners with mutual goals. When that is the case you are more likely to make sacrifices for the other. I would worry more about whether you think your SO is capable of listening to you and cooperating in a partnership. The "power" stuff is very adversarial and doesn't reflect the true selfless nature of marriage or parenthood.

I apologize if I misjudged you, but that is the advice from this "seasoned hand" (14 yrs of marriage and two kids): focus less on power and more on partnership.

BTW, Leslie's post really troubles me. Your husband has just done something nice for you, possibly in realization of the fact that you are right and that he needs to sacrifice more, and you skewer him with "antelope" comments. Me thinks Mommy is at war with Daddy.

Posted by: whateva | March 13, 2006 5:18 PM

So, according to the majority of the men who have responded:

For a woman to criticize her husband in public, with obviously colorful and creative language, is just short of criminal.

However, it is perfectly OK for men call total strangers shrews, ballbusters, castraters, wenches, etc., and then to act persecuted when people think you are being rude.

Just checking.

Posted by: Di | March 13, 2006 5:20 PM

This isn't about wars between mothers. This about who is raising whose family best. There are three sides: partner A, partner B and the kid. Won't anyone actually think of the children?

I hope this post isn't a reflection of the content of the anthology. And I hope that, if it is, permission was granted by everyone whose lives were torn open and thrown in a place for mass-consumption.

Mothers are not invincible. Many often make serious mistakes and are terrible at parenting. I watched the Today Show interview, and the one thing I wanted to scream was, NO ONE HERE IS THINKING ABOUT THE KIDS. Just about your own comfort zones.

I realize that you are not financially strapped, and that your husband probably could afford to take time off, but most people are and can't. My own husband was away on business trips and he could not afford to avoid them. If the roles were reversed, he would demand that I stay home, so why demand it of him? This is his job. This is his life. It's not all about the mommies.

Posted by: Lex | March 13, 2006 5:26 PM

Typo:

*he WOULDN'T demand that I stay home

Obviously, if he did that, my entire argument would be defeated.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 13, 2006 5:28 PM

My husband and I both graduated law school at the same time, and despite the fact that I got a job that paid significantly more than my husband, paid the benefits, retirement, 401K, etc., I still found that he seemed to have this underlying expectation that all of the chores in the house were my chores, because I was the female in the relationship (even after he quit his job at a firm and started working PT out of the house). When he does do something around the house, he expects to be praised or thanked for it. My frustration is always in why I should thank him for doing things that I do all of the time with no thanks? Especially when I'm the "breadwinner," if you want to apply traditional terms/roles? (I read an article that hypothesized that this dynamic often occurs with men raised by SAHMs. That is, there is an underlying expectation that everything in the house will be taken care of by the woman(was mom, now me), and that if the man "helps out," he should be thanked.) My husband said he had no such expectations. I said maybe they're subconscious - ? - because I definitely see the results.


We are planning to have kids soon, and I worry that because of the gender differences that are ingrained in most Americans between "women's roles" and "men's roles" in families, I will bear the brunt of the additional work by having kids, despite the fact that I am also doing the "traditional male work" of providing for the family. The funny part is, I have probably one of the most nominally supportive husbands I know. We have lots of male friends who could not handle the idea of their wives making more money than them or of subrogating their careers in support of their wives'. However, it amazes me that the underlying issue is still there, and every time we discuss it, my husband has no idea what I'm talking about!

I don't think the issue of working mothers v. SAH mothers is between the women. I think the issue is one created by (1) stereotype roles of women/men/mothers/fathers that keeps men from feeling comfortable actually being fathers to their children (asking for time off, staying home) or contributing around the home/with the children to the extent they should, and that makes women feel guilty for not conforming to a preset notion of what "good mothers" are (or has working mothers frantically trying to conform to a "perfect" ideal), and (2) inequalities in pay between men and women that force women to typically be the partner to take the "career hit" (whether staying at home or always being the one to take time off) and that in-turn reinforce the justifications for the inequalities (i.e., the women are going to drop out mid-career anyway / men are always the breadwinner).

The negative effect I see with SAHMs is that I feel like they reinforce the stereotypes and the financial inequalities (man is "always" breadwinner, so "male" careers must always make more money -- e.g., compare the salary of a secretary or teller (traditionally female) to a garbage man or construction worker)). I don't think there is anything inherently wrong with either choice (the good or bad therefrom comes from the personal application) -- it is society's reaction to the choices that creates the problem, and society has not swung far enough in one direction to correct the problem so as to allow for a happy medium (i.e., where no one cares if you stay at home as a mother or not).

PS: To the men: I have to say, last week one of the guys in my office was bragging about how took a trip to Australia for 3 weeks two weeks after his first child was born, when he could have said no, just to get out of the house. I was not impressed. The husbands/fathers have to be willing to change for any of the working mother/SAHM issues to be resolved.

Posted by: BfromHou | March 13, 2006 5:36 PM

Di, if you'll check, a lot of that name-calling you cite was done by WOMEN (as was the vast majority of the criticism of Leslie for her story about her husband). I have two daughters, and I wouldn't want it any other way...except sometimes when I see how nasty women are to each other.

Posted by: Brian | March 13, 2006 5:37 PM


For the poster re. America's 400th Anniversary, here it is:

http://www.virginia.org/site/content.asp?MGrp=3&MCat=11&MItm=256&Rgn=10000

Posted by: Not a mom or a wife | March 13, 2006 5:41 PM

Working dad, My husband does all you've mentioned. As a result, the remote belongs to him when ever I am blessed with his presence. Did I mentioned he was the "king" around our house. Gabiella, I agree with you. Leslie got her thing going with her man. I get the feeling he is probably her "king", you know, victory lap and all. I hope she ignores all the know it all who have commented so far.

Posted by: TL | March 13, 2006 5:43 PM

I did not say the majority of the negative comments were by men. I said a lot of the men's comments were unnecessarily rude.

But maybe that just means I'm a shrew :)

Posted by: Di | March 13, 2006 5:48 PM

All, the posts here are the perfect example of what Leslie is trying to illustrate. We're all at each other's throats here!

Leslie is a writer, and her blog is an extension of her book, in which she examines the issues inherent in the lives of parents. Marriage back-and-forth is a part of that, and I'm sure her husband is aware that she will be discussing their interactions in her blog. I don't think it's fair for the readers to armchair analyze their marriage. She is just as open about her "shorcomings" as her husband's.

And a family vehicle with fries between the cushions does not a bad parent make.

Posted by: afriendlyvoice | March 13, 2006 5:51 PM

BfromHou: Are you sure he expects you to do the housework? Maybe he has a different level of tolerance. My mother was a SAHM and a *horrible* housekeeper. And she certainly didn't get that from the stereotype. Her mother used ammonia and bleach (in different places) throughout the house for a spotless home. Try letting it go and see if your husband comes around to doing some of it. I bet you break down and do it before he does because he has a higher tolerance.

Posted by: Working Dad | March 13, 2006 5:54 PM

A statistically minded former colleague of mine mentioned that when women enter a field, the average pay for that field drops. I wonder if the opposite is true. Perhaps, "staying at home" will gain acceptance when more men take on the role. I was talking to one such man just this morning. He was telling me about his son's learning problems and how he has devoted himself to helping out ever since he got laid off. His wife made good money and it was the best choice for their family.

I see more and more men picking up their kids at school each year. Some work from home, some have non 9-5 jobs but some are for-real SAHDads.

I went from working full-time to being a SAHM. It was actually good for our family financially since my husband can earn more from a good bonus year than I can with a full year's salary. That was hard on my ego but I have to admit that this is a far more efficient system than both of us being late to meetings, constantly having to juggle schedules and the endless multi-tasking.

Instead of hostility towards SAHMoms, maybe we can promote a friendlier environment for both men and women to be SAH's.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 13, 2006 5:59 PM

TL: EXACTLY!!! And *you've* got the key to the kingdom!

I have a question for you. How would you handle it if he didn't do all those things and sat around on the couch all day when he was at home? (and let's assume that you can't say "I wouldn't have married him.") Would you work that much harder to take up the slack? Or would it just not get done? And is that grounds for divorce?

Posted by: Working Dad | March 13, 2006 6:01 PM

SJ,

Just point your SO to this page, and your uncertainties about where the relationship is headed could be resolved pretty quick. It sounds to me like he's the one holding out (in your self-centeredness it probably never occurred to you), and probably with good reason. You attitude makes you unsuitable as a mate, so your options may come down to artificial methods or some kind of trickery.

Posted by: Glad I'm not him | March 13, 2006 6:34 PM

WorkingDad: The issue is not so much WHEN he does the chore (separate issue), but the fact that he wants to be thanked or praised for doing it at all. I have read and tend to agree with "Dr. Phil's" hypothesis that this need for praise by the husband indicates his underlying stereotype (typical for a son raised by a SAH mom) that my husband is doing is "women's work" when he contributes around the house.

Essentially, it's the idea that he's subconsciously splitting up tasks in the household based on a male/female stereotype ingrained in him, and expecting me to thank him when he does something of "my" list. Extrapolating this concept to the topic here, this would mean that "childbearing/rearing" would be something on my list, and I should be expected to thank him for any contribution to it.

I think the complaint that that the working mothers were trying to express today is that they work and still have to do everything else, while most husbands feel that working IS their contribution, and they should be thanked for anything above and beyond that.

Interestingly enough, your list of chores seems to be split along the traditional male/female list, with your wife being responsible for the upbringing of the children. You work and bring in money, and have chores around the house also. My question for you is, what does your wife do that you consider the equivalent of you working and bringing in income v. your chores? In other words, would anything really change in the division of your household and childrearing tasks if your wife were working also? I think the issue/burden for most working women is that the task division remains the same, which is why working women complain when SAH mothers say they work just as hard. I think the answer is they both probably still retain primary responsibility for all the same tasks with the children and around the house, it's just that one works all day at a job, and the other works all day to entertain, educate, and keep up with a child (which, I know from keeping my niece periodically, is exhausting).

Working mothers and SAH mothers unite! In typical female fashion, we're too busy in-fighting to notice the real problem: MEN! ;) (calm down, it was a joke)

Posted by: BfromHou | March 13, 2006 6:53 PM

Geez, Glad I'm not him, that's harsh. All SJ is doing is asking for advice, albeit in a way that would make me a bit stand-offish as well.

SJ: If it is a true union, there is no shift in power. You have the power to make your husband and children happy and he has the power to make you and the children happy. How each one does it is unique. The hardest thing you will have to face is figuring out what he is doing as a contribution to the family. It may not look like what you think it should be. And if you are better with the children, so be it.

My wife told me many times as we prepared for children that she did not want to be the only one taking care of the kids. I help out where I can, but it is clear that she is the best one for the job and she doesn't want to do anything else, so we arranged our finances so she doesn't have to go back to work. It's all in the sacrifices you are willing to make for each other. Not because one or the other demands it, but because *you* want to make the sacrifice.

btw, all this advice goes out the window if the relationship is abusive from either side.

Posted by: Working Dad | March 13, 2006 7:00 PM

Maybe it's just because I married well, but for us there's always been a simple solution: talk about it (that includes discussing the hidden costs), agree on the responsibilities (even if it's not always 50/50) and deal with the curveballs using common methods of crisis management. It's a lot easier to manage expectations when they're not "hidden." And if you constantly obsess about "equality" you will indeed, become a "nag." Measure equality over the life of your marriage, not the hours of each day.

Posted by: Momworkstoo | March 13, 2006 7:10 PM

Don't worry Leslie, it makes perfect sense that he canceled his trip for you.

Maybe he wants to make sure you're a success so you'll be less of a financial burden when he finally divorces you.

Posted by: single4life | March 13, 2006 7:12 PM

I don't know a lot about Leslie and her husband, but I suspect that the two of them are successful enough to be able to hire at least a part-time babysitter/nanny, who could relieve them of the "getting the kids ready for school" tasks when work responsibilities interfere. Yes, it would cut into their probably very nice dual incomes, but the reduction in stress and the improvement in their quality of life (and in their marriage) could well be worth it.

Posted by: Scott | March 13, 2006 7:25 PM

BfromHou:
The list was traditional because I was trying to point out things that the dad may be doing that the mom does not consider "helping out around the house". I do the things I do well and so does she. The negotiation takes place in the things that neither of us does well.

My wife takes care of our son. That's her "job". Everything else she does is "chores". And the division of labor probably wouldn't change if she were working. She would just be at a 9-5 every day instead of taking care of our son. The evening and weekend DOL would stay the same. We would probably have an au pair or someone to take care of him during the day if we could still be ahead financially. Day care is not an option for us. If we couldn't make enough to cover the difference...well...that's why my wife agreed to stay home and I go off to work every day instead of being the one to stay at home and help my son learn and grow.

On the other hand, if she were the one that could take care of the cars, didn't gag at the smell of garbage, knew how to use a circular saw and a caulk gun, and liked keeping track of our finances, then I would be the one to prepare daily meals, dust/vaccuum, and do laundry. (as it is, I fold the laundry and iron when needed) I stink at cleaning, and she would be the first one to tell you that. I'm too detailed. You ask me to straighten up the living room and next thing you know I'm rewiring the stereo cabinet because the wires got jumbled somehow and I'm getting them "straight".

Posted by: Working Dad | March 13, 2006 7:29 PM

Working Dad, my guy isn't perfect, I choose to see him that way. I unacknowledge his imperfections. to answer your question. He travels a lot( gone for weeks at a time), when his is gone I take care the kids, budget, and take care the things he would otherwise do. I just try to keep in perspective the reason why I married him in the first place. He is responsible, decissive, directed, persistent, hard working ( he won't stop until the work is done), clever, confident, practicle, reliable, non- complaining, loyal, ethical, trustworthy, smart, I guess I already mentioned that he is clever. He has a crude since of humor too, but only I am aware of it - he often has me on the floor laughing because he's that funny. Some would call him a male chauvanist, but you know what, I am blinded to that. Our kids thinks he's a hoot to. I can least his short comings as well, but what does it matter when I'm planning to grow old with him. The point is He goes out and slay the dragon for us and don't complain about having to so. If I least all the things he has done for me and the type of life I'm living because of his hard work, people would still want to focus on the fact that during household chore isn't in his to do least. I adore him. what it really comes down to however is this, I like him. You know what else, he is an American man and I'm from someplace else. My American friends tells me I can do better because he is "chauvanistic". My native friends often reminds me that these American men are gems. Since I'm sahm and don't have money of my own, I'm always being ask if I'm not concernced about him ever living me destitute. Well, I'm not concerned. He has invested a lot in me and the children, I certainly wouldn't call him stupid, he knoes he has choices. I hope I'm not going to be harrass by some of the women in this blog for saying this, but the truth is I am a complete groupie when it comes to him.

Posted by: TL | March 13, 2006 7:38 PM

SJ, start walking. It appears the real you stand very little chance of ever hangang on to a husband. Unless of course, you retort to trickery.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 13, 2006 7:54 PM

Working Dad, I didn't answer your question fully earlier. It has to do with character, he wouldn't not sit on the couch and do nothing. If I could make as much money as he does, I would love for him to stay home. He would be so busy working on the house, I would have the best house this side of the Mississippi. He can fix anything and built anything. Intuition told me I was getting a good one. I made up mind pretty quickly about him. Really, I have not been dissapointed the 11 years we've been at this. I was realistic and I got just what I thought I was getting. There's been issues to be sure, after all no one has a crystal ball, but you adjust your perception and get on with it. What choice have you? At the end of the day, I'll be the one wiping his bum when his old and winkly. (sic) already making plans.

Posted by: TL | March 13, 2006 8:19 PM

Fairly typical response from the women.

My wife and her friends say stuff like this all the time about their husbands. "Works late to avoid the kids", "always going on trips without asking my permission", "just runs off to read email and makes me clean up", etc.

How do I know they say stuff like this? Because I work at home. During the day, I usually do a load or two of laundry, break up an argument between kids, change a diaper, "watch" a napping kid while my wife goes shopping, etc. Which is fine, but really I have an employer and she doesn't - so there is a limit.

But, man do I hear it when I announce I'm leaving for 3 days starting tommorow. "I'll have to cancel my hair appointment", "why didn't you tell me last week so I could hire a sitter and go get a massage to relax midway thru", "when are you going to set up the $2000 worth of computer equipment I bought myself yesterday", "clean up your office before you go or the housecleaner won't dust in there", etc.

Hmm... well somebody has to pay for all that crap. And that somebody is me. And that means I travel when the client asks me to travel.

Moral of the story. Women just like to complain about their spouses. And so do men (see my post).

Posted by: jello | March 13, 2006 8:46 PM

"For a woman to criticize her husband in public, with obviously colorful and creative language, is just short of criminal.

However, it is perfectly OK for men call total strangers shrews, ballbusters, castraters, wenches, etc., and then to act persecuted when people think you are being rude.

Just checking."

Yes. Exactly. You've got it perfectly right, ESPECIALLY IF WE KNOW WHO THE HUSBAND REALLY IS.

I could say something nasty about Melinda but you don't know who Melinda is so it won't cause her problems in real life. But when Leslie talks about her husband, everyone does know who it is. It has real potential to cause him real life embarrassment, with neighbors, friends, at the office, etc.

No one, I trust, would think it acceptable for Leslie's husband to blog about her by name and complain about their sex life. If he posts as MrSad, however, can complain all he wants about MrsSad and go into as much excruciating detail as he likes. But since no one knows who MrsSad is in real life, there's no harm done.

Posted by: Porlock | March 13, 2006 9:08 PM

I think Leslie's marriage is just fine. It's the people commenting on this blog who might need some counseling.

People who look for insult where none exists aren't likely to stay married for long. Not happily married, anyway.

Posted by: Viennan | March 13, 2006 11:28 PM

"People who look for insult where none exists aren't likely to stay married for long."

People who refuse to see that someone has been insulted when they were aren't likely to stay married for long either. The only thing more important in a marriage than communication is sensitivity.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 14, 2006 3:05 AM

"The only thing more important in a marriage than communication is sensitivity."

Indeed, indeed.

This should be applied to all human interaction.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 14, 2006 3:48 AM

OK, suppose nobody can ever say anything in public that criticizes anyone that someone might be able to identify.

There go all blogs, autobiographies, biographies, personal reflection columns and most of the evening news.

How on earth are people supposed to be able to discuss issues of personal life without discussing...personal lives?

If you object to the whole idea of this kind of forum, read something else.

Posted by: Di | March 14, 2006 9:23 AM

Yo Di, it's her spouse she's criticizing, not GWB or Matt Damon.

Yes, sometimes it's healthy to share and it's entertaining for the rest of us, but it can also be harmful too.

To some extent, Leslie is putting herself out there for our comments ... and we're giving them too her. She is saying, look I had this situation with my husband and here's how we handled it. And we are saying, we think that you didn't do so good here.

I'm proud of Leslie for her book and MBA and important job, but really small people make themselves feel big by putting other people down, and that's just what she did here. Only this time, it wasn't the girl who didn't make the cheerleading squad, it was her own spouse, and that kind of stinks.

Posted by: Camilla | March 14, 2006 9:47 AM

Just checking in from San Francisco, stop three on the Mommy Wars book tour.

Wow - and whoa! I had no idea this topic would arouse such intense commentary.

Thank you all -- this is better than marriage counseling. And yes, I was being a bit facetious when I said it was the nicest thing my husband has ever done for me.

Posted by: Leslie Morgan Steiner | March 14, 2006 12:20 PM

My mate, who derives real joy from being referred to as an alpha male, glanced over these posts at my request without any commentary from me. His reaction was "Wow. A lot of defensive dudes in that thread."

He further observed that the thread STARTED with women commenting on how one canceled business trip does not a hero make. The name calling from the men started thereafter.

I observe after a week of lurking that the instigator of the masculine whining does not believe this blog and its focus is legitimate in the first place.

Shoo. Go start your own blog. It's a free country.

Newsflash - one canceled business trip doesn't make Daddy a hero doing something unusual. Sharing the sacrifices equally in a society that expects the man to make fewer sacrifices DOES make Daddy a hero doing something unusual.

Or put more baldly, a real man who is certain of his value in his home and in his job doesn't feel pressured to meet anyone's expectations but his own.

Oh, and uh, guys? My telling my husband that I can't cancel my Thursday meeting so he'll need to pick up the kid (even though I make less money on an annual basis) doesn't make me a ballbuster, a shrew, or any of the other nasty words you're throwing around. I don't "ask" for his help with "our" child. And neither does he. We are a team. It's not THAT hard to figure out the management details when you're married to your intellectual equal.

Posted by: Sonia | March 14, 2006 3:46 PM

I'd have to second the person who said many of the people commenting need counseling. Are you really so concerned about Leslie's husband and how she "criticized" him? Oh no! A woman writing a blog about work and family implies that her husband tends to prioritize work! Gosh, what a public humiliation this must be for him! How will he face his co-workers??

Posted by: Isla | March 14, 2006 3:58 PM

the guys on this thread have some serious anger management issues. clearly the feminist movement has inconvenienced you and made you resentful.

Posted by: wow | March 14, 2006 5:01 PM

BfromHou:

You are absolutely right that the work/family balance issues will not be addressed until men begin demanding the same flexibility as women do. Men won't do that in any significant numbers until they have to and that won't happen until all their wives stop leaving the work force as soon as they have children.

It is bunk to claim that you can't "have it all" in terms of a family as well as a career. You can. Women continue to use their children as the PC reason to quit working when their kids really don't have much to do with it. If they did, then they would be willing to work full time while their husbands stay home. Honestly, how many SAHM would switch with their husband tomorrow if he came home and said "It's may turn to stay home with the kids". How about if the kids are all in school? Do you still say "of course I would."

I am all for women having choices but I am for men having the same choices also. It seems to me that the only ones who get to choose - I will work, I will stay home - are the women for the most part. There are always exceptions but if you are honest with yourself you know that it is not equally available to each gender.

With choices also come consequences. Too many women feel they should have the choices without any consequences. There are downsides to working and to staying home. You need to live with those choices. If your kids grow up resenting the time you were away, well you have to live with that. On the flip side, if your marriage fails or you spouse is disabled or dies, and don't have the skills to support your family, that's a consequence you will have to live with. Nobody forced you drop out of the workforce. You shouldn't count on alimony (child support is another matter, but alimony is an antiquated idea in this day and age where women "choose" to stay home and then let their work skills atrophy - if you say you had no choice then you married the wrong guy for more than one reason) or government assistance. You better be ready, willing and able to support your family at a moments notice.

By the way, I am a working mother who chooses to raise may children in partnership with my husband as well as financially support my family in partnership with my husband. This may not be the choice of others, but I simply expect everyone to live with their choices, the good and the bad. I have unfortunately seen too many women who have been left with nothing when their marriage fails or they are forced to support their family for one reason or another. I have also seen too many men who are stuck in jobs they hate because they have to bring home enough money to continue to let their wives exercise their choice to stay home.

Posted by: llf | March 14, 2006 8:22 PM

I didn't think this was male-bashing or husband-bashing at all.

If Leslie is currently a partially-stay at home mom, or a partially work-at-home mom, it makes sense that her husband would usually not cancel a work trip. That sounds like the arrangement they've come to. So it is great that, once he realized she needed some help this particular week, that he willingly canceled.

I think that's grounds for a happy dance.

As she said at the beginning of this site, this is about honesty and how the whole work / caring for the kids thing plays out in our homes. And it is still a reality - especially if one spouse, usually the woman, has more caretaking duties - that the other spouse's career takes precedence.

Isn't that the whole point of this discussion? There was a little milestone. That's great. No need to assume she was attacking him, at all. Sheesh.

Posted by: Krisco | March 15, 2006 1:38 AM

This is a plea to TL to please, please stop writing. You are illiterate and your smug parroting of Marabel Morganesque-style philosophy is nauseating.

Posted by: DJ | March 16, 2006 11:53 AM

You can afford to hire help, if only part-time, or occasional. Pay a student to get your kids to work in the morning. Geez. Simple.

Posted by: rCorvus | March 16, 2006 6:53 PM

This blog is boring. Don't you have more important things to discuss

Posted by: oldmaidblogger | March 17, 2006 2:18 PM

This week's sign of the apocalypse to be sure. Part of the problem is that "middle america" is not the Washington, DC suburbs. Having grown up in a lily white sub-division where the teens were routinely presented with Beemers and Mercedes when turning 16, I would advise leslie and many of the posters here to try and be a single working mother, or a married couple "getting by" at the median income level of $37K a year, as opposed to a woman who gets booked onto TV shows while hubby flies around the world for "important" business meetings.

Instead of investing all of this time and effort into the creeping materialism/consumerism that you are bequething to your children, take a deep breath and realize that the absence of want is precisely why you have so much to complain about. In the abundence of water, the fool is thirsty.

Posted by: Anonomizer | March 17, 2006 3:49 PM

This anecdote sounds like a lack of communication, sensitivity, and respect between Leslie and her spouse. Surprising to put this out in public.

You each book a full day of activies and travel, and never discuss it with each other until the last minute?

Did you need to schedule an appointment with each other for conception, too?

Posted by: Falls Church, VA | March 18, 2006 8:37 AM

SJ: I hope you're still looking for responses, given the tone of some of those you've gotten so far! It seems to me that it is preferable to be thoughtful about major life changes, so you seem to be on just the right track.

I am currently a SAHM with a husband whose career takes a lot of his attention and makes up a lot of his identity. I have some scattered suggestions that may help you make your decision/prepare for a family. The first is to talk with your husband about his parents, and yours. I've been surprised (and abashed) to find that my on-the-fly parenting decisions often have little to do with my education and a lot to do with "what my mother did" or a teenage vow to "never do" some particular thing my mother did. It's good for both of you to know what baggage each of you is carrying.

As for your power -you're making this choice together! My husband and I both decided I would stay home with our kids. We periodically discuss whether we are both still happy with the arrangement, and what kind of changes we can foresee making as the kids grow. This means I absolutely feel no loss of power. I am grateful for the chance to be at home with my kids. My husband is grateful to have his children well-cared for and for the family life this allows him to have. We are able to have family time when he is home because at least some of the household chores are out of the way. (There are plenty left over so that the kids get the experience of all working together as well).

If your husband is willing to really understand what your life as a mother feels like to you and to help you shape it into one that makes you happy, you'll be ok. For my husband, one thing that really helped was for him to go to the 'new parent' and 'breastfeeding' classes and to read the parenting books. He likes to know what to expect! Another thing that helped us was having a cleaning service come in when the kids were little. I know this is decadent and that we were lucky to afford this. Housecleaning responsibilities are a sore point for us and we see this as something we did for both of us. Thirdly, we try really hard to learn about eachother's respective work worlds. He listens to our news, (one drew a terrific picture, what kind of rash is that, and so on)and I listen to his. We bring him picnic dinner when he is working late and have his colleagues over when we can, so I (and the kids) know something of the places and people that fill his days. We keep adjusting to see what will work. Sometimes in the evening I cannot wait to be alone in the kitchen with the dishes while he does the tucking in. Sometimes, it's the exact reverse.

I do, on occasion, feel my loss of power in the "outside world". Am I wasting my graduate school education? Am I setting back the women's movement? Am I as uninteresting as some cocktail party snob seems to think? More importantly to me, am I right to risk my and my children's economic future in this way? I think about these questions but they don't keep me up at night. I find my daily life rewarding. (And, I read a lot).We minimize the economic risks by saving agressively and carrying life insurance. If we were to be divorced, I would be the financially less comfortable party, but I have decided that the opportunity to live as I like is worth that risk. I know that I am lucky to have had the resources that have made these choices even possible.

It sounds like you are lucky, too. I hope that you can talk to your husband about your concerns,and that the two of you can find the courage and humor that you'll need to shape your roles as parents in a family (with you staying home, or not, or something in between, as you choose!)so that both of you, and your children, can thrive and grow.

Posted by: Lisa | March 18, 2006 11:00 AM

Are you making these stories up to pick a fight? If I were your husband I would not be pleased with the way you are portraying me on this blog, let alone using these anecdotes (fictions?) to extrapolate generalities about everyone else. Something's fishy.

Posted by: DC Lawyer | March 22, 2006 12:11 PM

Note to Wow.

No, we are just glad that we are not married to you!

Posted by: Fred | March 23, 2006 10:49 AM

You should be writing a book about gender roles and gender differences as opposed to tackling the mommy wars.

Apparently your husband feels so superior to you and his work that it was a serious moment in your life when he *gasp* changed his schedule for you. Give me a break! What kind of life is that?

Posted by: You've Got to Be Kidding Me! | March 29, 2006 7:26 AM

Are you sure 53528 about this?!?

Posted by: Flots Masriach | September 21, 2006 2:51 PM

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