My Husband Doesn’t Worry About ‘Having It All,’ He Just Does It All — Kind Of

having it allWork-life balance is a problem that doesn’t just affect women, it affects men too.  Or that’s what I’ve heard.  That’s not the case in my house though.  I am the only one struggling with “balance.”  My husband?  He just schedules his time.

My husband is a great partner and father.  He works full time at a demanding job, but he is still active in our everyday lives.  Yet, I don’t think he has ever once thought about achieving “work-life” balance.  To him, there are 24 hours in a day and he carves it up appropriately.

If we have orientation at our son’s new school, it goes in his calendar.  If I need him to cover school drop-off so I can finish an article, it gets noted in his planner.  The hours he misses at work are made up at home after the kids are in bed and what isn’t imperative waits until morning.

His “scheduling” approach is so different from the way I torture myself, wondering if I am spending too much time away from the kids, feeling selfish for pursuing my writing, trying to balance work and life. Sometimes I want to be more like him.  He’s practical, realistic and present.  But I cannot simply focus on the task at hand without considering the larger implications.  If I miss dinnertime, will the kids get to sleep on time?  Will they wake up in the middle of the night?  Will they be more needy in the morning when I have to get work done?

Choosing a night to have dinner out with my girlfriends has consequences that can’t be captured in my datebook; consequences that relate to the ever present and unanswerable “can I have it all?”  My husband never worries about “having it all” but yet he still appears to “do it all.”

Or at least everything we ask of him.

His approach means that I need to be very explicit.  If the task and obligation is clear, my husband will make it happen.  If the task is general or theoretically, such as “decide what we are going to do about baby girl’s lack of respect for authority,” or “determine if she needs to go up to the next diaper size,” there will be no follow up.  The research, the worry, the heavy-lifting of parenting falls on my shoulders alone.

So what accounts for these differences in perspective?  Is it that women are inherently multi-taskers?  Lingering traditional gender roles?  Whatever the cause, I worry there will never be progress for women in the workplace and implementation of flexible hours if men see “work-life balance” as a simple scheduling issue.

(photo: STILLFX/ Shutterstock)

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  • Ellen

    My partner also approaches our life based on a schedule and explicit requests, but I don’t think all the “heavy-lifeting of parenting” falls on me. In fact his example inspires me to be more in the moment. I trust him as much as I trust myself to parent. I think the real question you need to ask is why do women seem to seek to control children and home. Why do so many mothers feel like their way is the “only” or “best” way to run a household? Why do we put ourselves in charge of everything? Can our partners not decide what time to make bedtime? Can the people we chose to parent with not be in charge of dinner alone? Work-life balance does not have to be as emotional as it appears to be for so many women who have the luxury to ponder such issues. We have to work and we have to be the best parents we can. Our kids are ok without their mothers. In my case I feel bad because I miss my daughter not because my absence is causing her any harm. Her father is capable of parenting without me, that’s one reason I chose him as my partner. I don’t need to micromanage another adult.

  • Lastango

    “I worry there will never be progress for women in the workplace and implementation of flexible hours if men see ‘work-life balance’ as a simple scheduling issue.”
    Yawn. Listening to whining makes me sleepy.
    And when you get tired of that emotionally lazy bum you’re married to, list him in the Buy & Sell. You’ll be rid of him by nightfall.

  • Outlaw Mama

    Yes, This is so true. My husband doesn’t fret like I do or about what I do. I do the heavy lifting on the fretting. He does worry about the big picture stuff, but he decides we can figure it out and then he sleeps while I fret the night away. I wonder about this gender divide as well. I had it before we had kids, though, so I can’t blame that. Great post.

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  • Anna

    This is so true and I really enjoyed reading this one. I think women are more naturally able to multitask and we also naturally worry more about future and big picture while men simply see a task or request and as you said, schedule it in and just do it without all the strings and worry that moms sometimes attach. I think there is an achievable balance though. Maybe less worry and guilt and more being totally in the moment, seeing things just for what they are and not taking every task too seriously? I don’t know…just my opinion. Great post though, gave me some things to think about.

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