Carolyn Hax: Gimme a break! Go home after work

August 31, 2013 

Are there letter-writers you wonder about to this day? While I’m away, readers nominate some who stayed in mind.

Sept. 1, 2006

Carolyn: I recently became a father/husband and am having problems adapting to my new lifestyle. Ever since we’ve been married we constantly argue over my “bad” habits of going to see my friends after I get out of work.

My wife stays at home and cares for our daughter. For me, an hour or two of hanging out is refreshing.

My wife doesn’t seem to agree. She feels jealous because my friends are the first people I want to see when I get off work. I feel like I work a 12-hour day when I come straight home, because I have to cook (she can’t cook) and give her a break from caring for our baby. I understand she’s also working by caring for our child but gimme a break! I can’t go out to the mall or go shopping when I work or take two naps during my workday!

BREAKING THE GIRL

You’re not single anymore, and you’re not childless anymore, and so you are no longer at the top of your list of people whose needs you must tend to. This is a fundamental truth that you need to accept, right now.

At the top of the list is your little girl. She needs a daddy. When you are out of the house for 10, 11, 12 hours, she does not have a daddy on weekdays.

Next on the list is your wife’s name, right next to yours. She needs your companionship, your attention, your support. She doesn’t need a husband who needs a couple of belts with his buddies just to face coming home to her. And she doesn’t need to have her life dismissed as easier than yours, when she is “on” 24 hours a day with the baby, and likely isolated as hell.

Yes, you need your time, too. Once a week with your friends. And she needs a night off, too, once a week with her friends.

And if any of this isn’t penetrating please arrange, this weekend, to watch your daughter, solo, for at least 10 hours straight. Then write back to me and report what it was like.

Email tellme@washpost.com. Chat online at 10 a.m. Fridays at www.washingtonpost.com.

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