I was discussing the pros and cons of having your partner attend the birth of your child with a heavily pregnant woman last night. It seems we have swung massively from one thing to the other. In 1960 only 10% of fathers were present at the birth of their child […]
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Last week TV presenter Kirstie Allsopp controversially stated that always putting your man first was the key to a successful relationship. She said “if you do what your partner prefers, he is happy and the children have a great time too”.
Do you agree with that?
I don’t. This makes me angry – comments like this. I am all for accepting the wonderful world of gender differences, but frankly this sort of statement takes us right back to the last century. Surely most relationships are now based on mutual respect and equality? If not then on a compromise agreeable to both? Why should one partner expect or deserve to be happier than the other? Is it right that children learn that imbalance from an early age even if outwardly calm and happy?
I did try that approach when I was married – tried to go and watch cricket matches and other sports with the children in tow but it made us all miserable, which admittedly was my fault because I didn’t come from a sporting family and wasn’t used to it. My parents spent every weekend doing stuff together.
Of course, it is quite clear that I am not qualified to comment because I got it all wrong. One writer, in agreement with Kirstie states:-
“I know of couples where the husband commutes to London during the week to work 10 hours per day in order to support the family and then at the weekend gets told by the wife: “No, you’re not going to play golf, it’s your turn to have the kids, I need some “me time”. I am amazed the men stick around to be bossed about. I’m sure most of them are having affairs – in fact, I hope they are poor blighters. If you don’t look after your man, someone else will”.
That really makes me feel sad because that is pretty much what happened to us. I was one of those awful women who when at home with three small children wanted her husband around at the weekends to do family stuff and to spend time together. He did work unbelievably hard and was used to playing lots of sport and needed an outlet. I get that. He did get to do his thing sometimes, but I simmered with resentment because I couldn’t do my thing. It was just a bad time and we didn’t manage to sort it out. Small children make everything go wrong for a minute and to be honest I thought I was working unbelievably hard as well – or at least it felt like that at the time.
I hadn’t realised that there are actually women out there encouraging men to have affairs the minute the going gets tough. Writers like the one above who justify breaking up a marriage at this precarious time, because it’s all the woman’s fault. What about the women who work full time as well?
Where do the same sex partnerships stand on this issue? Is one assigned the job of resident doormat for their relationship to survive? Or is it actually supposed to be just what it says on the packet – a PARTNERSHIP. Where both strive to understand, sympathise, empathise and compromise their way through the messy thing we call life.
Surely it’s all about communication? We are equal partners here trying to find a way to make it work. Women who stay at home to look after the children are more inclined to feel they have to do what their man says, in my limited experience and very often this comes down to who is in financial power – but even then it’s got to be a compromise that works both ways. It is very very difficult. I’m quite sure we weren’t really designed to live together when bringing up kids. Quite frankly most friends I know would have been much happier living in a commune with women and many children all eating and playing together. The men could then have played sport to their hearts content and gone to the pub. We could all have shared babysitting duties and had a sex rota to meet your partner at least twice a week.
It is not easy raising a family and trying to focus on your relationship at the same time. I know that from personal experience. But my advice is that you have to work at it and you have to be honest and talk about it and most importantly of all, make it very clear to “your man” and any of those women apparently waiting in the wings to pounce on “your man” that it would be very very stupid to do anything rash before your youngest child is five. You shouldn’t give up, shouldn’t wander off. If you married for love you should stick with it – because warped as it might be in the middle years of change and nappies, it will get better as the kids get older. Everybody gets their life back and it gets better.
There we are then. That’s my view. Biased as hell. What do you think?
Posted by Family Affairs on 01-07-2011 in BLOG tagged with advice columns / Affairs / men
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