I was with a group of mothers the other day when the conversation deteriorated into one of their most favorite and my least favorite topics -- husband bashing.
“They don’t do enough around the house.” (Despite the recent Wall Street Journal article that suggests that men do a lot more than their wives believe they do!)
“They don’t return kindness with kindness.”
“They just walk out and leave me with all the work.” While there may certainly be situations where this is true and cause for legitimate complaints, most women in the group acknowledged that their husbands aren’t really the primary cause of their dissatisfaction.
All of these women had chosen to be stay-at-home moms, yet they all felt resentful when their husbands “escaped” to their offices (where presumably they do nothing all day), leaving them with dirty dishes (wait -- doesn’t their housekeeper do those?), dirty diapers, screaming children -- and a long, lonely day. Now that the pendulum has swung backwards and more women are choosing the option of full-time parenting, no one’s talking about one of the most serious drawbacks -- the loneliness.
Even the brightest three-year-old can only keep you stimulated for a limited time. The days are long, they are frequently unstructured (or conversely too structured), they are demanding physically -- and they are ultimately lonely.
As many times as you can get together with other moms, there are still the hours at home -- meal times, nap times, play times, and even schlep on errands times -- where it’s just you and them. So we’re tired at the end of the day. It’s been physically draining. But the emotional drain and loneliness takes its psychic toll as well. This is not our husbands’ faults. They didn’t force us into this position. It just goes with the territory. And our marriages we will be better if we understand the real source of our discontent. Then we can begin to look for solutions. I know there are book groups (but no one asked me to join!). Perhaps we could have some with meatier topics (no more Oprah survivor of abuse tales)… perhaps some Jewish book groups.
The idea of consciousness-raising per se was not a bad idea. But I’m not sure it was successful. It really needs that spiritual component…Learning Torah is always a great path to deeper thought and relationships – among women, among spouses. I know -- it’s so hard to find the time, the babysitter (it may be expensive but it’s cheaper than marriage therapy!).
We are capable, thoughtful women; we can find solutions to this problem. Let's stop taking the easy way out; let's stop blaming our husbands. (I know -- I’ve spoiled all the fun!)