Dear Holly,
Here’s my BIG issue: I often feel like a single parent. My husband does work, but his schedule varies from day to day, and there are days that he works for a few hours, and he’s done for the day. Sometimes he will go to a movie before coming home, or shop for a new computer game, which isn’t a really big deal to me, other than the fact that we do need to be saving money as much as possible. I think he may feel guilty about doing this, though, since he won’t call me before, and doesn’t tell me about it till days later, or if it slips out, or if I just happen to see his new game on his desk or computer. Anyway, no matter how long he works in a day, whether or not he’s had “play” time before coming home, he comes home and does the exact same thing…spends the rest of the day on his computer. He does do finances, or faxing paperwork from work, but a HUGE majority of the time he spends on his computer is gaming or watching movies or tv shows. Of course, his computer is in a separate room (a HORRIBLY messy and disorganized room…HIS room), and there is no way his “office” would fit anywhere else, so that means that he is separated from the rest of the family the entire time he is home and on the computer. We have an “almost” 4 year old, too, and she often goes in there to try to get his attention, but he won’t budge from where he is. If he’s playing a game, or watching something, whether or not it’s appropriate for her to be seeing this stuff, (monsters, blood, shoot “em” ups, etc.), he continues what he’s doing, and gets irritated and sends her away if she disturbs him in the least. I have in the past tried to keep her out of there, but when I’m sitting down breastfeeding , if she goes in there, there’s not all that much that I can do. (I’m not an agile breastfeeder) My husband doesn’t see any harm in most of the things he watches, or in the games he plays. I, however feel very uncomfortable with letting her see, or even hear that stuff. Which is also why I feel very uncomfortable with leaving the baby with him when she is fussy and just wants to be held, because even though she doesn’t “watch” what he is doing or watching yet, she does hear some pretty awful stuff already, stuff that sometimes even scares me if I just listen to it.

I realize there are many husbands out there that work long hours, and wives handle things at home without them. I can do that, too, although right now with a young baby, I don’t get much done. It’s not exactly that I’m looking for him to come home and immediately take the baby or entertain the older one so that I can get something done. On the other hand, it doesn’t make all that much sense to me to have to struggle with a fussy baby while trying to make dinner too, when he’s home, playing a computer game or watching a movie or whatever. So his help would be nice, even nicer if he were willing to step away from his computer for a while, but there is a bigger issue than that. We don’t have a lawn to mow, we don’t have many “fix it” projects that need a man’s touch, but we do have some home improvement plans, and some rather simple chores, not even very time consuming, that just need to be done. However, NOTHING gets done unless I do it. And I do resent that. During the summer we have had the absolute worst looking yard on the block because I can’t even get him to spray the weeds, much less pull them! And yet, even on a “long” work day, he gets at least 5 hours of uninturrupted “play” time when he gets home. Imagine what I could accomplish with 5 hours of uninterrupted time! But I think that since he brings home the money, he feels entitled to play, and since I’m just a “drain on the economy”, it’s my job to do all the rest. (Oh, and spending time with the kids is too boring for him to handle).

I think that deep inside he knows that he should be living a bit differently than he does, but even when he resolves to do this or that, the resolve disappears very quickly. We have talked with our priest about related issues, but any improvement ultimately requires his decision to act. And so far, he just can’t follow through with the required action. And he refuses to be accountable to anyone. So I have to find a way to live in peace no matter what he does.

BUT…what about the example that he is (or isn’t) to our children? First, I don’t want my girls growing up placing the computer or tv in first place in their lives. This is already an uphill battle with my older one, even though she still would rather run around than sit still and watch. I like using her natural desire to be active, but when my husband brings home stuff to watch, she wants to “watch” too. Secondly, I don’t want them to learn that it’s ok for a member of the family to do their own thing rather than being a part of the family, and participating in family life. I especially don’t want them to end up being in the position I’m in today. I want them to expect more out of their relationships, and if they marry, I don’t want to see them settle for a man who will not be attentive, loving, helpful, selfless, and present to them. They deserve so much better than that. I believe that I deserve better, but this is the man I married, and until he chooses to actively be a part of our lives, this is what I have to work with.