“My problem is my wife doesn’t like me hanging out with friends.”

Sharing a comment from A Reader. What do you think?

I have been married to my wife for a year and a half, and we have an infant child. I work while my wife stays home. My problem is she doesn’t like me hanging out with friends.

When I get home she gives me the silent treatment. I barely see my friends anymore — and when I do, they come here. If they stay any longer than 30 minutes, it causes a problem and my wife again won’t talk to me for the rest of the night.

I have tried to compromise, but she feels as though any time I spend away from her and the baby is a no-no. Am I wrong?

60 thoughts on ““My problem is my wife doesn’t like me hanging out with friends.”

    • I have the same question. She is probably resentful of not having any time for herself. You get to do a job with fixed hours and then have the choice of chilling with your buddies while she has no such opportunity. Something to consider.

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      • Why so many thumbs downs for the above comments? The comments are simply pointing out that the wife may be feeling lonely and needs the company of friends. This is a normal need for any human being. In fact, this is a very common situation – in the past generation, women who just gave birth to babies were surrounded by people (this came with some baggage, of course). But now we live farther away from our families. Women often get isolated in this phase. I remember with my first child, waking up several times in the night, and during the day, lugging his stroller everywhere, shopping for groceries, driving around to run errands, managing all day, without speaking to a single adult. With my second one, it was lugging a toddler, a stroller with a baby all day, and at the end of the day you just want to sit down and talk to someone. I joined a yoga class, started making friends, and started feeling better. My whole family started feeling better. Most people need people. Why is this so hard to get??

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        • I too got riled on seeing all those down thumbs.Males need to attend workshops that sensitize them to the needs of the wife and mother of their kid.Every mom i know in my neighbourhood has a husband who thinks spending time in office earning bucks is the only responsibility he has.Rest all falls on his other half.Sad.

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      • Some people have a hard time with emotions. It’s not easy for some to talk about feelings because it puts them in a vulnerable place, and they often don’t realize that it’s okay to be in that position, and that that’s perfectly ordinary and healthy. Or sometimes people feel that the person they should be communicating with would simply dismiss their feelings if they told them, so they think the silent treatment is more “effective”. There are a lot of reasons.

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        • There may be a lot of reasons, but how on earth are you going to know what someone else is thinking unless they tell you?

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        • That’s true, but I’m just saying, is that it’s not easy for everyone. Not everyone is always fearless about putting their feelings out there. Like I said, talking about such things makes people feel vulnerable. It’s not healthy behaviour, but the reasons for it are understandable, and they are very valid, human reasons which aren’t based in passive aggressive manipulation like some people think. People need to understand that some have a hard time with expressing themselves, and should work to make such people feel comfortable with sharing their feelings rather than misunderstanding and subsequently belittling them for not being expressive.

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  1. Do you look after the baby while she gets some time off with her friends for some fun? Milk can be pumped and easily fed by the father and the mother isn’t actually needed 24/7 if the father cooperates. If you don’t do this, don’t be surprised by her behaviour. You are just complaining about something your wife doesn’t have a right to, so that would just be whining in my book. If you do your share and let her have some free time off with her friends, then you need to discuss the matter with her in depth.

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    • Indeed — it’s hardly surprising that she gets resentful if he gets to divide his life between being home, friends and work while she gets to divide her life between home, home and home.

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    • I dont understand. She works inside the house. He works outside the house.
      They both contribute in their own way.

      She doesnt go out and share his work a few days a month and bring home a salary. Why should he share in her work of running the house?

      Of course, maybe she wants to go out and get a job too. We cannot possibly know the details.

      However, to suggest that he should be the sole breadwinner outside home
      and then come home and share her work too so as to make her feel better sounds unfair.

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      • So let’s help you understand.

        He works at office, from 9 to 6, 5 days a week, maybe some overtime, calls etc.
        She works at home, 6 to 9 (or whenever baby sleeps), 7 days a week.

        He gets paid for his work, the salary is in his name.
        She gets no money for hers, if he were to leave her tomorrow, she has no money. Yet, it is her taking care of home and baby that enables him to work peacefully.

        He finishes his paid work, and can relax.
        She has no paid work, and no time off.

        I do think couples need to talk things over, but to assume that because he has a paid job, he is exempt from household work is simplistic.

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  2. I don’t know – whether or not she gets time to herself (her responsibility to ask and ensure for herself, we’re talking about adults here), being resentful that someone else gets something isn’t right. If we flipped this question on gender, aren’t most women normally pretty upset that their freedom is being curtailed?

    I don’t think anyone should feel guilty for spending time with their friends. If my friends came home and were made to feel uncomfortable after 30 minutes or I had to face resentment for that as well, it wouldn’t work for me. What is the problem with having people over home – assuming these are decent people, spouse gets to spend time with friends and spouse all together!

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    • Asking what you need is not taught in our culture we thrive on mind reading. “You should know what I need because we live together 24/7.” “You should know that am human too and I get tired I too need a break.” Instead of wording one’s needs we want our partners to guess our needs even when they are legitimate. Why would a partner guess even most humane need when he/she can get away by ignoring it.
      May be she is resenting his friends coming over because it she who has to serve them tea and clean after them while she is also holding the baby as he is busy attending his company. It is as simple.
      You guys need a communication 101. Silent treatment is communication and relationship killer. It is emotional blackmail by withdrawing affection.
      http://girlsguidetosurvival.wordpress.com/all-about-relationships/feeling-and-expressing-your-emotions/
      http://girlsguidetosurvival.wordpress.com/all-about-relationships/home-and-happiness/
      http://girlsguidetosurvival.wordpress.com/2009/10/16/emotional-blackmail/
      Peace,
      Desi Girl

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      • Another thing to note is many women once they become mothers they assume any personal time is neglecting the baby hence they feel guilty being away from baby. Even if you offer them breaks to have personal time they shy away from having time off because they fear being called selfish and bad mothers.
        Then we all know about martyr complex…
        DG

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        • DG, Brilliant point about mothers feeling selfish for doing anything for themselves. I hear so many women freely judging other women who will let their kids stay with the babysitter for a few hours so they can get out with their husband and get some much needed adult time. Why do these women not realize that their life really need not revolve around their kids and that personal time is actually a great thing, because it keeps you sane and makes you a better mother for that. It’s not like we need more kids thinking that the world revolves around them, right?

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        • @Krith,
          Not only women judge other women but many new mothers judge themselves harshly and try to be the super mom to be the best ever mother. I have friends who have gone to the extent of making their own organic baby food just because they want the best for their child at the cost of their own health and primary relationship (marriage). Bonding with child becomes obsessive and marriage suffers. There is a constant question if children come before the spouse or spouse comes before the children. Women forget marriage (spousal relationship) comes first followed by kids in chronology if the base is not strong children will only be used as glue to fix the cracked relationship. And children will eventually fail to mend that crack it job of parents to fix their marriage not that of their kids.

          Another thing women learn is their bond with biological child is for life where as marriage is still a choice or one that may or may not last for ever, even when it lasts for ever many women find more emotional support from their children than their male spouses. Thus it pays to be obsessively invested in children.
          DG

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    • Sangitha,
      There’s something to be said for open communication, no? The onus is on her to tell her husband if something is bothering her and work jointly towards a resolution. It is saying something that he has chosen to ask a group of perfect strangers for a solution rather than talk to his wife freely. Sadly enough, this sounds like a typical desi marriage where neither husband nor wife has any clue about the expectations, likes/dislikes about their “significant other”. Reason #93840 that marriages must not be entered into without the couple spending enough time to learn about each time.

      The one thing I disagree with in your post is that time spent with spouse and friends does not count as time spent with the spouse. That is just time spent with his friends.

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    • Many of my friends have had this experience and they have expressed this in words to their husbands, who were incapable of understanding why it is not okay that they go out to play cricket and have a bit of fun on Sundays while the wife stays home and cooks and looks after the baby. Their opinion is basically that as long as they spend time with the wife, it should be okay. But it’s not at all about that. The wives’ needs are being ignored. So I wouldn’t be quick to assume that the LWs wife has not indicated the facts to him.

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      • Fem,
        My own husband goes out and plays cricket every Saturday through the summer. I used to resent him for that because we both work and a bunch of household chores would fall on me. But some conversations later, I realized that his intention was not to deliberately get out of being home but just to get some outlet to his natural sporting abilities. When I expressed my reasons of disagreement with him, he quickly started making up by doing spending some extra time on weeknights doing those same chores he would’ve done on a weekend had he stayed home.

        But then, this is just my own pleasant experience because my husband is just like that. He hates feeling like he didn’t contribute positively to the household. I also have many other fellow cricket-wives that are resentful because their husband did not feel the need to “justify” their all natural manly needs😐 As if the wife’s natural need to kick back and wind down after a tough week isn’t natural. Sadly, these are the guys who had to give up their hobby after 2 or 3 years because they didn’t hash out the details and have those arguments upfront and let the resentment build. My husband and his buddy who have made positive changes to make it easier on their wives have been going at their game for 7 years now. With a baby expected next year, I very much expect my husband to continue to play and don’t resent him for it.

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    • The question is not whether the guests are decent or not. What matters is who is the one who has to make tea, snacks, clean the house and play host to those decent guests. If it is the wife alone, then she has a right to feel resentful. Otherwise leave alone 30 minutes, I will not tolerate one minute of a guest intruding on my life..esp when someone else has decided to invite those guests.

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  3. Is this the case only after the child or was this always the case? If it was always the case, then either u need to start having common couple friends, or you need to encourage her to have her own friends and let u have your own.

    I am assuming that before the child, she had free time on her hands to go meet her friends. IF that was not happening, or if it was happening and u were still denied being with your friends, you should have a chat.

    Even with a child, a woman can always invite friends over and they can talk while the child(ren) are taken care of. Does she do any of that? Does she have house help?

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  4. Before the child was born, did she resent you spending time with your buddies?
    I think that is the first question you should ask yourself, and her too, and start from there working towards a solution.
    Since you work, you get to spend a minimum of 6 hours in the presence of co workers, who happen to be adults. Ask yourself how many hours a day,on an average, does she get to interact with other adults? Time you spend with your buddies is a bonus for you.What about her?
    The silent treatment you receive is a result of a battle within her.She wants to ask you to spend more time with her and the child, but at the same time she does not want to seem selfish while doing so, because Indian women are raised to put everyone else’s wants and needs before their own.She wants you to realize all by your own how isolated she feels with this constant battle going on inside her, while simultaneously taking care of an infant 24X7.
    She needs time off from being the care giver day in and day out.Stop feeling victimised and start thinking of things from her point of view.
    I have spelled out the problem as best as I could, now its up to you to fix it. All the best.

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  5. I agree with JP, Fem & Krithika. But let’s also remember that there are girlfriends/wives whose lives simply revolve around their partners so much so that they dont want to pursue any other interests (even when their bf/husb encourage to- may be just to have some breathing space). Why just assume that the husband do not do his share! Im sure we all know many such clingy, dont-have-a-life types in both the genders.

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    • I’m sure we do, but the problem here is that this only seems to be a thing after their child was born. Girlfriends/wives whose lives revolve around their partners would behave that way from the very start of the relationship, no? It really isn’t a sudden onset thing, and if it is, there is usually a different reason for it other than the fact that she’s “clingy”.

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    • Nidaa, That’s a definite possibility. But his letter doesn’t seem to make it clear whether or not she’s the clingy types or has some martyr type feelings for sacrificing her entire life for raising their child yet has feelings of resentment for not having enough external stimulation.

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    • Yes, some people are more clingy. Agreed. But the lady has to take care of the baby all alone 24*7 with no breathing space. She needs her husband to pitch in with baby care or at least be around her till the baby does not need continuous attention. After that she could look for ways to do other things outside home. Maybe take up a part time job or hobbies outside home which give her an opportunity to meet other people.

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  6. I think you have a much bigger problem than not being able to hang out with your friends. Based on your statement you and your wife seem to lack basic communication. Why can’t you and your wife sit down and talk about both of your frustrations? Obviously you should be able to have time with people other than your wife and child. Obviously your wife needs time away from you and your child. You should sit down and and talk to each other about how to make this happen in a nonjudgemental way. Somehow it seems like once you both figure out how to communicate with each other the other issues will start to work themselves out.

    Also, is she happy with your current arrangement? Is she happy being a stay at home mom? Would she be happier working at least part time? Would it be helpful to get a babysitter at least a few hours a week, so that both of you could get some time to take care of yourselves? Would it be helpful to get occasional housekeeping services? When your friends come over is she expected to feed them, clean the house for them and entertain them? Do you have the same group of friends? If not, how often do her friends come over? None of these issues can be solved alone. You both need to sit down and work things out in a gentle and kind manner.

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  7. Dear IHM,

    Such a simple problem for us to comment on, when there are so many more complex ones? Feels like a filler, no offence to “A Reader”. I have been visiting your blog every day hoping to see something about the Devyani Khobragade nanny case.

    Dear A Reader,

    1. Discuss with your wife that silent treatment is a no-no.
    2. Make arrangements to leave the baby with someone, and go out with your wife for an hour. It will take about three hours of pre and post prep for that one hour to happen, but it will be worth it. You be the one to initiate the idea, and do the needed things.
    3. Rinse repeat.

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  8. A few things.

    1) Why are you asking us the reasons for your wife’s actions, instead of asking your wife the reason for her actions? I’m 100% sure that she could give you a much, much better answer about why she doesn’t like you hanging out with friends than we ever could.

    2) How involved are you with raising your child? Do you share the duties equally with her? If you haven’t been pulling your weight with taking care of your offspring, it could very well be that your wife is simply annoyed with the fact that you’re not helping and dumping all the responsibilities on her. As it is, she spends nearly the entire day being responsible for your child. Don’t you think she deserves a break, same as you do?

    3) How much free time was your wife getting, before she became annoyed with you? This ties in directly with 2). If you’re not helping at all, and you get infinite amounts of free time to hang out with your friends without having to be responsible for anything, while your wife gets absolutely no time for herself or to have fun, then I can easily see why she’d be irritated over you and your friends. Again, she’s spending the entire day at home, with a child, presumably with little to no adult interaction. It’s not very helpful when the only other adult she knows isn’t spending any time with her, but is out with friends all the time.

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  9. I agree with most of the advice above. You get some socialization at work. Your wife must be feeling pretty isolated taking care of the baby all day. Taking care of an infant is a demanding, round the clock job that leaves many people feeling tired and craving company, just someone to talk to. However, silent treatment is not the answer. Talk to each other about your respective needs, and see what can be changed so you both feel happy. Others have pointed out some helpful things – like getting a babysitter for a few hours a day, your wife can join a class, pursue a hobby, go out and meet her friends – so she feels more fulfilled and happy.

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  10. She is only trying to acclimatize you to the fact that your friends are only there to share the ‘fun times’ and other such ‘selfish reasons’, and will probably go to any extent in future to pull you down. By the time you realize this yourself, it might be too late. It maybe better for you to cut your energy/time wasting friends, now. I know you won’t listen – you have every right to experience the pain yourself and do what you think is fit, later.

    But remember: Family is different – they stay with you through thick & thin.

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    • Gosh, how do you know that his friends will go to any extent to pull him down? They might end up saving his life by putting theirs in danger. YOU DON’T KNOW. And family isn’t always dependable either. They might also go to any extent to pull him down. What a silly comment!

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    • “Family is different–they stay with you through thick & thin.”

      Tell that to all the children who are disowned for not fitting in with their parents expectations. Not all families will stay with you. Some might drop you like hot potatoes the instant you “dishonour the family name.”

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  11. It’s a temporary problem. Don’t worry.
    Being alone the whole day at home with a baby to look after is terribly stressful.
    I should know.
    My wife and I are now here, in California baby sitting our 14 month old grandson, so that my daughter and son in law who are busy professionals, can pursue their careers without worrying about the baby during the day.
    The little fellow keeps us on our toes all the time as he has now started moving around the house.
    The house has been baby proofed but still there are lurking dangers and we have those those occasional minor accidents when he falls or bumps himself somewhere and starts bawling. Even with two of us, (wife and I) we are finding it rather stressful watching him stay out of trouble, feeding him, putting him to sleep, taking him out for stroll, changing diapers, giving him a bath and keeping him amused with toys. From 7 am to 7 pm he is in our custody. Only after the couple return from their offices, we eagerly hand over this naughty bundle to them and are able to relax a little. So I quite understand your wife’s predicament, if she has to handle the baby alone the whole day.
    I don’t remember working so hard for my own children. I had family elders at home since we lived as joint family.

    As the baby grows up, it will become less and less stressful and your wife’s behaviour may well improve. Till then hang on, be understanding and also, as everyone suggests, lend a hand after you get home from office so that she gets some relief.

    Also take time to talk to her and reassure her. She will change once she knows you understand the problem she is facing and your married life will become happier.

    All the best.
    Regards
    GV

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  12. Dear LW, a baby is a big change in ones life and is also extremely stressful. Your wife is having a whole lot of changes to deal with – biological changes with hormones, social lifestyle changes. She must be fully drained and she is only expecting your support. The child is yours too and you should be contributing equally to it too, rather than go about your life like nothing has changed. Be supportive and kind towards them and try to spend maximum time and responsibilities with her so that she does not feel burdened.

    Good Luck!!!

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  13. Sounds like the problem is that she doesn’t have a life of her own. She’s probably friendless and spends all her time at home taking care of the baby. She’s not working either, so there’s probably NO other social interaction for her other than you, the husband. You, on the other hand, has friends and work as WELL as a wife and kid to contend with.

    To balance out the equation a bit, maybe she needs to find something to do, something other than taking care of an infant all day. So maybe she could leave the baby with you or a babysitter and get a job/take up a hobby/ find SOMETHING to do so she has something going on in her life as well. She too will then make friends, and will see the importance of having more relationships in her life than just her husband and kid, cos right now, YOU are ALL she has. And she resents that while she thinks all she needs is you, you don’t feel the same way. She needs to make friends, have an aim, a passion to follow… something.

    Maybe you could suggest that she start blogging.😀

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  14. IHM: I have a feeling that you should have an agreement with the people whose emails are published that they will read these comments and reply to them at least for the first one week. Some of these emails are so generic and short and people make assumptions about the Letter Writer and his wife. Did he really try to break the ice wall and fail? Is she over worked? Does she have friends? Does she have domestic help? Was she always passive aggressive? Does she have active hobbies? Is she clinging and expecting cinematic romance? All these questions are pertinent. It would have been nice if the letter writer’s original letter had answers to these questions.

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  15. Seems to me as if your wife isn’t communicating properly with you. To all those above claiming that he’s not doing his share in raising the baby etc, let’s not jump to conclusions. He might – he might not. Both are possible. One thing is for sure though – you have to give your wife the chance to express her feelings. This might not solve the problem of course. Many people just don’t like to talk, in which case I’m afraid there’s nothing you can really do if she just clams up.

    After all, you might be willing to stay home and take care of the baby while she gets down time every now and then, but she might not want that to happen! You obviously know your needs and no one can blame you for wanting to have more than just a work/home life. It sounds as if she either doesn’t know her needs or is unable to communicate those needs to you. That’s something you need to work towards.

    To directly answer your question, the answer is no – there’s nothing wrong in wanting to be out with your friends and your wife pressurizing you into doing nothing other than work and stay at home is wrong.

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  16. I have nothing new to add but yes
    – Talk to your wife & work out the root of the problem
    – Ensure she has fun time with her friends, then she would get your need too
    – Have time alone from each other & from the baby too

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  17. Your wife is exhausted by the time you get home. You need to say, “I’ll take care of the baby, you relax, this is my time with the baby now” and encourage her to take a hot bath, do yoga class, meet her friends, etc.
    I am also a SAHM and a lot of times friends don’t come to visit because they don’t want to disturb, so it can be very isolating.
    After you put the baby to bed, have alone time with each other and talk. And YOU schedule a date night once a week and do something romantic like going to a movie or trying a new restaurant.
    You have a small child now – it is a lot of work – and your priorities should be wife/child, family, then friends. It sounds like you need to put more effort into your marriage then your friendships. Your friends aren’t going anywhere.
    If you follow my advice, and put more effort – she’s not going to make a big deal about you hanging out with your friends, since you are giving her enough support and attention.
    You need to OFFER support. That is the main things that dads forget to do.

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    • Yeah…I suppose he isn’t exhausted by the time he gets home from the office. They are probably paying him to have a beer party with his colleagues…

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      • @sumit Pullleeeease…. you don’t know what is hard work until you have children and take care of them full-time. You can’t even go to the bathroom!
        How exhausting being at an office all day… LMAO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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      • Dont deny working is hard, especially those stressful jobs, where one is totally drained. But taking care of kids is personal, every small issue with them affects you and it’s extremely tiring.
        IMO i have found working outside the home much better and easier than staying at home with babies. but thats my personal opinion. I have worked at stressful financial jobs that have drained me by end of the day but even 8 hrs at home with my then baby son – although making me happy, i would hand him to my husband as soon as he showed up and spend a few wail free mnin int he restroom in peace , take a shower and flee for a 30 min walk, i used to feel like i would lose my mind. and i love my kids to death.🙂 there is really no comparison both jobs are hard, each have their rewards but i’d say a screaming child is harder /
        My husband agrees, he would rather go to work than deal with a child at home, and yes we love them but we’re simply not capable of dealing with babies 24X7 without a break, henc ethe extra help, nanies and soon thank god school. of course for us onc ethey hit about 5 yrs , we are ok.

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  22. Which is harder..working at office or working at home with an infant, toddler as well as household chores? Both need to experience both. Why gender specific roles?

    Like

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