Marriage is tough. When you have kids, it gets even tougher. You think you know your spouse inside and out, and then out of nowhere she tells you she is anti-spanking. Even after reading “Fifty Shades of Grey”!*
Dr. Phil would (probably) tell you that communication is the cornerstone of any successful marriage. With children around, communication becomes even more important, because parenting is not only the most significant duty you’ll ever (mostly hate) performing, it is also a team sport. If you’re not on the same page with your spouse it can lead to disaster, both for your kids and for your marriage.
Fortunately, while having kids makes communication more important, it also makes communication a lot easier. Just as long as you don’t mind being a passive-aggressive dick.
Once a kid enters the picture, you and your spouse become de facto coworkers. And it’s very important to remember that neither of you is the boss. To preserve this delicate understanding, it’s a good idea to split up individual duties and have some kind of schedule, to eliminate confusion and prevent hostility from growing over lopsided roles. But even with proper planning, things will inevitably get missed, and that’s when it gets tricky.
How do you gently remind your wife that it’s her turn to change a dirty diaper or prepare the kid’s dinner? Without sounding like you’re bossing her around or, even worse, chastising her for not carrying her weight? That’s where Junior comes in.
I can’t even begin to tell you how convenient it is use my child to slyly remind my wife to do something. Say it’s time for Detective Munch’s bath but I’m drunk or hungover or I’m drinking away a hangover or I just don’t feel like getting all wet and being a parent and stuff. I’ll simply make sure my wife is within earshot and, under the guise of playfully bantering with my son, let loose with a subtle: “You want to take a bath, little buddy? Mommy is gonna clean you up real good!” Or “Looks like somebody forgot to do the dishes, huh, little man? Gross!”
Not only does this tactic nudge the wife into action, it slowly turns my son against her. Which, as you can see from this post, helps even the playing field.
Having a third-person around to enable my 100% neutral, totally innocent, not-at-all-judgmental remarks about chores that have yet to be handled is an amazing thing. Especially when that person is a toddler with limited language skills. Because pointed hints about the need for your wife to hold up her end of the deal or else this whole family is going to fall apart sound so much less obnoxious when delivered via lilting, sing-songy baby talk.
The best thing about this strategy? It doesn’t anger your spouse AT ALL! My wife personally LOVES hearing me chide her for not chipping in by using my son as an innocent bystander in our increasingly toxic relationship. And if it does eventually piss her off? She’ll be outnumbered.
There’s no way my kid would ever side with that lazybones!
(Disclaimer 1: I have never and will never read “Fifty Shades of Grey” and have no idea if the book’s soft-core S&M details include spanking.) (Dislcaimer 2: Mom and Buried would like it made clear that she has also never read and will never read said book(s).