"He Used to Be a Hunk, Now He's Just a Whiner"
Sheila: 45, chief financial officer
Glenn: 47, stay-at-home dad
Married: 10 years
Kids: twins Gabe and Sally, both 3
Jan Harrell, PhD, Ashland, Oregon
Sheila is a business executive who loves to cook. Glenn, a former financial manager, is a stay-at-home dad who does most of the child care and housekeeping. Both of them feel that their contributions aren't acknowledged or appreciated and at this point they're barely on speaking terms.
I work hard all day long, and when I get home I want to do three things: Give the kids a hug, pour myself a glass of wine, and make us all a really good dinner. I'll go in the kitchen and cook up something healthy and delicious -- roast pork loin with apples, chicken tetrazzini, a nice curry. But instead of being grateful, Glenn sits there looking annoyed.
If I ask him what's wrong, he's like, "Why are you spending so much on groceries? Why can't you make something simpler?" If I left it up to him, we'd be eating peanut-butter sandwiches every night! And knowing Glenn, he'd probably whine about that, too.
When I married Glenn he was this rugged hunk with intellect and class and lots of drive. He didn't tell me until we started trying to have a baby that his greatest ambition was to be a stay-at- home dad. After we did fertility treatments I got pregnant with twins and Glenn got his wish. He's an amazingly nurturing father, but I don't think he realized how hard it was going to be. He really seems to be overwhelmed.
Now when I come home the house is a pigsty and Glenn's moping around and whining. He used to be seriously into mountain biking -- now he just gripes that he never gets any exercise, and when I ask if he wants to go for a ride, he makes lame excuses like "my bike needs fixing." That's when I start yelling -- I just can't deal with his negativity! Then he shuts himself in our bedroom, which drives me even crazier.
I really don't get how Glenn can play the victim. He used to work 80-hour weeks and I didn't complain. He was really passionate about his job. Maybe Glenn is jealous that I'm out doing something fulfilling and he's stuck at home. But it was his choice.
What really riles me, though, is the lack of appreciation for what I do. The tension has gotten so bad that we hardly even talk anymore, and when I go to bed he stays up sulking. I still love Glenn, but I'm losing my respect for him -- and I'm losing my patience. His attitude is sucking the life out of me. If this keeps up, one of us is going to have to move out.