Ladies, ever been referred to as your husband's ball and chain? Hilarious! The whole group chuckles. It doesn't bug you, much. Inside, though, you're wishing that your husband would stand up, look at his beer-guzzling, living-in-his-parents-basement Neanderthal friend (or brother) and say "She's no ball-and-chain! She's the best thing that ever happened to me!"
Does this happen because guys are jerks? No. It happens because, somewhere along the line, our culture decided that it's OK to demean your spouse. And we do the same thing to our husbands.
You're out with a friend, enjoying a cup of coffee in a rare kid-free moment. Your friend runs into an acquaintance, you all get to talking and she asks "Oh, how many kids do you have?" You smile and say, "Two." Your friend says, "Well, three, counting her husband." The whole group chuckles.
Don't do it! Don't count your husband as one of your children.
First of all, unless you chose a really immature and selfish man to spend your life with, he isn't a child. Men do a better job of playing like children; it's one of their best Dad qualities. Don't demean them for it unless you want to be the only one getting on the floor to wrestle or pillow fight, unless you want water gun and silly string fights to be just you against your kids. Your children value this trait in their Dad, you can also.
Some women feel justified counting their husband as one of the kids because of the role we take in our husbands' lives. If you are making three lunches each night because you make your husband's lunch as well, if you do his laundry and make his doctor's appointments, it can feel like he is just one of the three people you need to check off on your list. This is not a bad thing if it is a role you agree to play. If your husband also does things for you then this may be a great solution.
Focus on the role you want your husband to have in your life. Many women are more comfortable in the mothering role -- it's more physically demanding but often emotionally easier than a year's long romantic relationship. If this is the role that you've fallen in to, only you and he can change it. Chances are good that isn't what he wants from your relationship either.
None of these arguments seem good enough to rethink this habit? How about this? Our kids will pick a spouse that treats them the same way they see us treating our spouse. Do you want your kids to look for a life partner who parents them or who shares equally with them?
Lastly, we undermine our husbands when we count them as one of the kids. A man who is doing his best may feel like his efforts don't matter. A man who isn't yet doing his best won't feel motivated by that label. Much as a wife can feel hurt by the casual ball-and-chain joke, a husband can be torn down a little by being counted as a kid in the family.
Need a New Year's Resolution? Only count the kids as kids. You'll be an inspiration!
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