December 16, 2011 at 3:24 pm , by Lauren Piro
Here’s a couple with a head-scratching dilemma: Glenn, 47, has never wanted anything more than to be a stay-at-home dad. And when his wife, Sheila, 45, had twins three years ago, he got his wish. Glenn quit his job to raise his kids, and Sheila spends her days as a business executive, but still dedicates time to cooking wonderful gourmet meals for her family. And Glenn is quite ticked off about that. Huh? Read on; it’s more complicated than it seems. And pick up our December/January issue for the full story, on newsstands now.
Sheila’s turn: All Sheila wants to do after a long day at the office is come home, hug her kids and cook her family a healthy and tasty meal. She wishes that Glenn would appreciate her efforts, but no. He complains that they’re spending too much money on food; Sheila thinks they’d be eating PB&J’s for dinner if it were up to her husband. When they got married, Glenn was intelligent, rugged and ambitious, but now he just whines all the time. Sheila isn’t sure he realized how overwhelming parenting would be, and it shows. The house is a pigsty, he makes lame excuses to avoid doing things he once loved (like mountain biking), and he’s constantly negative. Maybe he’s jealous that Sheila gets to be out doing fulfilling work everyday? Whatever it is, the tension is at an all-time high, and Sheila is losing her patience.
Glenn’s turn: Glenn really hates Sheila’s gourmet cooking habit, but not because he dislikes good food (duh). He’d rather she come home to chat and unwind with him, not spend two hours over the stove while he’s stuck parenting alone. He has long days too—kids aren’t a cakewalk!—and also knows they need to curb their spending on non-essential fancy meals and hobbies like his mountain biking. Now he just avoids his wife to avoid a fight, so Sheila thinks he’s always off sulking somewhere alone. Glenn’s glad Sheila’s given him the opportunity to watch his kids grow up, and is actually happy with his new job as dad, but still feels short-changed. He’s constantly making sure everyone’s needs are met, but Sheila only blows up at him when he mentions what’s bothering him.
December 8, 2011 at 3:51 pm , by Lauren Piro
Do you remember that classic Ferris Bueller line? “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once and a while, you could miss it.” It’s truly a great rule to live by, and one that Amy, 27, and Sean, 29, forgot after they had kids. As Sean himself puts it, “Everything happened quickly. We got married, had a baby, moved halfway across the country, had another baby.” Now, with two kids (Jake, 3, and Ian, 4 months), the couple’s connection is waning, they’re constantly fighting, and they’re dealing with other major issues they can’ t ignore any longer. Read the full story here.
Amy’s turn: This stay-at-home mom just had a new baby and has a lot of the typical gripes that come with the job: her husband doesn’t understand how hard she works, doesn’t help out around the house, and forgets the things she asks him to do (“Just when will Sean look up those flights to Seattle so we can see my family?” Amy laments). But there’s also a larger problem at play—Amy’s suffering from postpartum depression. She cries at the drop of a hat, doesn’t feel a connection to her newborn, and no one seems to get what she’s going through. Sean took a temporary leave of absence from work, and her mom stayed with her for a while, but now that she’s without them again, her anxiety is at an all time high. She misses feeling like herself, misses the satisfaction of working as a nursery school teacher, and misses her husband’s friendship. All they do now is fight, not to mention Sean’s mother meddles and makes back-handed comments about how Amy runs her household. Everything feels wrong, and she’s not sure her marriage is going to make it.
Sean’s turn: Sean just can’t figure Amy out. It seems that in her eyes he can do no right—she’s always screaming at him for something. He knows he could work harder at controlling his temper and could do more around the house, but he just doesn’t feel like he and Amy share the same special bond they did before. He knows his mother can be difficult, but Sean grew up with a physically abusive father, and is glad to have fostered a decent relationship with his mother later on in their lives, though she still denies the abuse. Amy calls Sean at work hysterical, and he just never thought it would get this bad. His secretary mentioned that counseling helped her when she had a newborn daughter, so Sean decided he and Amy should give therapy a try.
October 13, 2011 at 2:17 pm , by Lauren Piro
Working moms and wives today crave one thing most of all: more balance. Time for your career, your kids, your husband, yourself (gasp!)—like Liz Lemon, we just want to have it all. Gillian, 41, thought she’d finally figured it out. She’d quit her high-power, high-stress (and high-paying) banking job and open a yoga studio in her home. Her husband, Kevin, 42, would relocate his photo studio there as well, they’d both get tons more family time with their 8-year-old twin boys, she’d stop buying fancy clothes and dining to save money, and Everything. Would. Be. Perfect. And it was! Until it wasn’t. (Read the full story here).
Gillian’s turn: She thought Kevin was totally on board with the yoga-photo-studio plan, but now he’s balking. He’s changed his mind about moving his photography business from its current location, and works seven days a week. The addition they’re putting on their house for the yoga studio is also way over budget, and though Gillian knows she’ll recoup the cash once she opens, tensions are high. Kevin’s started yelling at Gillian in front of their kids, refusing to talk things out like they always would. He ignores Gillian’s requests to help with things around the house, and she hates nagging him, but just needs some things done! Their arguing has completely slowed her sex drive, which just causes more fighting. She doesn’t want a divorce, but can’t believe her perfect life has become such a mess.
Kevin’s turn: It’s always bugged Kevin that Gillian took home the bigger paycheck, and he’s excited to grow his business and become family’s main breadwinner—but also, unsurprisingly, a little scared. If he moves his studio, he’ll lose clients and students, and he doesn’t see how he can give up photographing events on nights and weekends. The honey-do list new stay-at-home Gillian has given him is driving him mad—she notices small details she never did before, always dislikes how Kevin does things, and then withholds sex as punishment. And as for cutting back on their spending? Gillian’s wardrobe and the family’s leftover take-out beg to differ. Kevin loves Gillian, but if they’re going to radically change their lives, it’s going to have to be a two-way street. He has dreams he wants to fulfill just like she does.
October 6, 2011 at 1:23 pm , by Lauren Piro
Big families can be loads of fun—you always a have a group to take to dinner, you could host a mini-Olympics in your backyard if you felt like it, and you get that warm-fuzzy feeling watching siblings bond and grow up together. But lots of children also means, well, lots of work. And pressure. And laundry. Gaby, 34, and Greg, 35, were married 13 years ago and started having kids right away. But when Gaby got pregnant with their fourth child, the couple’s marriage took a huge hit. Read the full story here.
Gaby’s turn: Gaby was a little surprised with she got pregnant for the fourth time, but warmed to the idea quickly since she’s one of five kids. Greg, on the other hand, flew off the handle. He immediately blamed Gaby for being careless with her birth control, and would openly chastise her about it in front of their friends.. When the baby arrived, things only got worse. Greg’s parenting style invoked mostly screaming whenever a few Legos were left lying around, or when their oldest son, Zach, wasn’t the football star dad wanted him to be. Gaby knows that Greg’s job at brokerage firm had become a lot more stressful over the years, but she can’t believe he’s taking out all of his anger on her and the kids. She feels demeaned and ashamed, and the only reason she’s attending counseling is to prepare for an amicable divorce.
Greg’s turn: He knows been a jerk, but didn’t think it had gotten as bad as Gaby says. He loves Gaby and their kids (even if she doesn’t believe it), but still feels they started their family way too young. With kids came less time and energy for dinner with friends, date nights, and, yes, sex. Greg’s company had just laid off hundreds of people when he found out he and Gaby were pregnant again, and he couldn’t help but express how bummed he was about everything. But when he blamed Gaby for accidentally getting pregnant in front of his friends, he thought she knew he was joking. Greg knows he’s a tough disciplinarian (like his own dad was), but feels like Gaby has pitted the kids against him and always disagrees with how he handles things. They barely even talk anymore, but Greg hopes that if he can find a way to calm down, Gaby will give him another chance.
The counselor’s turn: Right off the bat, the counselor made it clear that she believed in saving marriages, and that the couple needed take divorce off the table for six months to give their relationship another real chance. First they needed to understand that Greg’s outbursts were truly damaging verbal abuse. They’d had a lot working against them from the beginning of their marriage (young parenthood, Gaby’s traditional upbringing in which it was taboo for wives to argue, the high standard Greg’s father placed on him during his own childhood), but they needed to open up the lines of communication ASAP. Gaby told Greg that she wasn’t going to tolerate being taunted or belittled anymore; her plan was to calmly leave the room or restaurant if things got out of hand. And if Greg didn’t treat their children better, she’d divorce him. Gaby’s new found self-assuredness was a wake-up call for Greg. He met with a psychologist to manage his stress at work, apologized to the kids for his behavior, and now works side-by-side with Gaby on parenting. He makes sure to show Gaby he loves her everyday, and their intimacy has sky-rocketed. Now, Gaby can’t believe how happy marriage makes her.